A favorite book from my childhood is Harold and the Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson. The story begins with a blank slate: just Harold and his crayon on an empty page. By drawing on the page with his crayon, Harold takes a journey and creates his world—pies and perils alike.
Creative writers do something similar: create worlds on the page. If you’re like most writers, you want each creation to be better than the last. Every story is an opportunity to further develop your craft, to write a better story.
What if we were to bump you and Harold together?
We’re about to welcome a new year, which might be the optimal (or at least traditional) time to try this experiment. For your next year, instead of resolving to do something, resolve to create something. And the creation I have in mind is not what you think: I’m not going to suggest that you decide what you’re going to write and then go write it. (That would be too easy. Any writing web site can tell you that.) Rather, the challenge is to create your world, the way Harold does.
In other words: you are a creative writer, and you are hereby challenged to write your next year into existence. Here’s how:
- Decide. Decide that you are going to see the year as a blank canvas or a blank page on which you can tell any story you want—that you are the author of your own story.
- Describe. What does your ideal year look like? Fill in the canvas: describe the entire year as you’d like to see it play out. Be specific: when will you write, where, and what. Try writing it as a short story with you as the protagonist. Describe yourself with good adjectives, like persistent and passionate and even plucky. What obstacles will the hero/heroine encounter, and how will they be overcome? What will the protagonist learn by the end? How will you be changed?
- Debut. Select a day to begin. You could wait until January 1st…but who says you have to write the story that way? How about beginning today?
It’s easy not to do this. It’s far easier to let the year happen as it will, to respond to the ebb and the flow, the flotsam and the jetsam—so easy. Easy to let your writing get swallowed up by the monsters we call time and to-dos and teenagers. We all have our monsters, and most of them we have drawn into existence ourselves, just as Harold did.
We can also draw them another way. It’s your year. You can create it anyway you choose.
Like the idea of “writing” your year into existence? Join Charlotte Lit co-founders Paul Reali and Kathie Collins for a free community conversation on January 4 at 6 pm. During the session, you’ll imagine your own “creative hero’s journey,” and you’ll leave fired up—and with a plan. [More Info & Registration]