by Ian Sifton
Artwork by Katie King
My little cousin has more potential as an author than I do. How do I know that? Because I put limits on myself.
As we grow older our minds and imagination bend and conform to the rules our instinct and reason create. Everything becomes so complicated, even the ideas we have for stories: this idea is too boring, this story won’t sell, etc. But the world isn’t so complex in the eyes of a child.
Their main objective is to have fun.
Think about the times when you played dress up pretending to be a princess or a spy kid (with the cool shades). When you played with your stuffed animals or dolls pretending you were off on awesome faraway adventures right in the comfort of your own home. Or (my personal favourite) building starships out of LEGO and enacting large scale battles, much to your parents’ annoyance over the thousands of scattered pieces. Children thrive in their imagination when given the opportunity.
A while ago, I was away visiting some of my relatives. I was working on a story when my younger cousin came over to see what I was up to. I told her I was writing a story, and she asked, “Can I write one too?” I could tell right there that her mind was racing at a 100 mph.
I said, “Sure, we’ll write one together. I’ll type, and you tell the story.” The moment I had a fresh page loaded her eyes lit up, and she unloaded her imagination. It was the story of a girl who discovers a magic stone that transforms her into a tiny fairy. She travels to a secret kingdom called Crystal City, to which she discovers she is the heir. However, the city is in the clutches of an evil sorceress who decides to have her “dealt with.”
The sheer amount of detail that poured out of her so quickly made it hard for me to keep up. When we had finished, I was amazed by what had just happened. An entire page was filled with a story outline. She had done that in five minutes when it would have taken me ten just to fill half.
So why is it harder for us more-grown-up people to generate this kind of creativity flow? We put limits on ourselves.
The writing world as we know it isn’t easy. Why? Because there are rules. It begins when we start comparing our work to another’s. We start judging stories based on their content, tone, theme, character, etc. This story doesn’t feel good enough, maybe I should just give up? We get into complexities over things such as: this scene needs to convey more emotion, or this character is too flat.
Authors have to create the right story for the right kind of publisher. And of course, there is that collective fear that nobody will like your story. But my cousin isn’t concerned with any of that. She just wants to have fun and let loose her imagination. That is the element of writing that I think a lot of authors tend to forget. If any of you reading this have forgotten, think on this:
Look at your story like a child because you need to let loose and have fun. Don’t create limits that hold back your imagination. They do not exist in a child because a child is not afraid of limits.
Children are the most talented authors in the world.
Ian Sifton is a 17 year old writer from Canada. Ian says, “I love writing because it gives me the chance to get my imagination out there. Ever since I was a kid I found it so fascinating to jump into a book and stay locked in it for hours. My goal as a writer is to create stories that are a joy for myself and readers, from the beginning to the end.”