In addition to doing the children’s book thing, I teach creative writing classes for kids via Zoom. I love the work. The students are fun and enthusiastic; the commute is fantastic (just one flight of stairs!); and, most importantly, I can do my happy, jokey, dog ‘n’ pony show while wearing jammies.
Every job is better in jammies.
The goal of these classes is not to teach the regimented mechanics of writing, it’s to build confidence and generate enthusiasm for storytelling. One way I do this is to assign in-class writing prompts. These prompts are designed to push each student’s brain in interesting and unexpected directions.
1. Your efforts to speak to the dead go badly.
2. You’re running for president in an alternate dimension. Write and deliver your campaign speech.
3. How did that giraffe get in the Hudson River?
You get the idea.
The prompts are a hit, usually. The kids have a good time discovering new stories. And I, in turn, love to hear the twisted tales they share.
The regularity of these prompts results in chunks of class time where I don’t teach much. I’m a fellow who likes to keep his brain busy, so I tried to use this time to work on my own stuff. I had no intention of sharing the work, of course—these classes weren’t about me—I just thought it would be a fun way to pass the time while everyone else was silently scribbling away.
It didn’t work. Almost instantly I recognized that I couldn’t simultaneously concentrate on a story and keep an eye on the class.
Doodling on the other hand…
Doodling, for me, requires no focus at all. I can look up from my “work” at a moment’s notice to fulfill my teacherly responsibilities—answering questions, addressing concerns, and, once in a while, sending an urgent message to a student via private Zoom chat (“I can see you picking your nose, Martin!”).
So now I have legal pads stuffed with drawings—half-baked ideas and unfocused weirdness that will never see the light of day.
Until now. Because, hey, why not?
So! Do you like to free your mind with a few doodles? Or something else? Lemme know in the comments!