When my son was small, we played a creative sort of game in which he (the artist) would draw pictures for a story which I (the writer) would write. I would lay on his bed with sheets of plain white paper beside me and start out…”One bright, shiny morning,” I wrote on such a page, “Peter and Benjamin decided to go into town.” Then I would hand the sheet to Brian, who waited expectantly beside me at his drawing table, a box of 132 Berol Prismacolor pencils at the ready. His little hands fairly flew across the page, creating the magical cartoon figures of Bear Town that were like members of our family in those days, creating an illustration to accompany my words.
We developed quite a rhythm, and I learned to write quickly so as to keep up with his lightning imagination. If I faltered for a moment, or stopped to think too long, he would urge me on impatiently. “What next?” he would say, literally bouncing up and down, practially grabbing the sheet out of my hand before I was finished putting the words on it. When the story ended, we’d create a construction paper cover and add it to our growing collection, volumes of stories for every occasion a small boy might wish to write or think about.
We were good partners in those days, and honestly, I’ve never since experienced such a fluent collarboration. We were almost like two halves of the same mind. But children can demonstrate creative fluency in a way that we as adults sometimes forget. They aren’t encumbered by rules or fears, the woulda shoulda coulda’s that adults concern themselves with when undertaking creative endeavors. As Brian’s art teacher once said, it was as if his pencil were connected directly to his brain. There was no critical middleman to stop his creative flow.
That’s what makes true fluency possible, being able to connect directly and without fear to the soul of an idea, and allow it free expression. My life doesn’t often allow me to do that nowdays, but thanks to those afternoons spent with a small boy, I have a marvelous memory of how glorious it can be.