Wednesday, September 9, 2015

On Creativity (and Shel Silverstein)

Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child,
Listen to the DON’T’S
Listen to the SHOULDN’TS
The IMPOSSIBLES, the WON’TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me—
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be
-Shel Silverstein, Listen to the Mustn’ts-


I saw this poem come through on Facebook today. This has long been one of my favorites. Shel Silverstein is a children’s poet, yes, but this is one of the few times that he shows who he really is. This is one of many poems of his encouraging people to go for their dreams or to express creativity, and I love every bit of it. Those poems of his are some of the things that keep me going as a writer.

I think it can go for all creative types. And I have a secret for you. Everyone is creative. It’s part of the human experience. You can say you’re not, that you’re just humdrum. I don’t buy it. Everyone has some kind of spark.

So I’m issuing everyone who sees this a challenge. Set aside one day. Just one, single day. You can spare that from your busy schedule. Make it on a weekend, if that’s what it takes. But find one day in your life and go be creative. Go do it. Write. Draw. Paint. Dance. Fix the Confederate battle strategy. Make up a new game to play with your kids. Make up a new game to play with your grandma. Try a new recipe. Make a website from scratch. I don’t know what tickles your personal creativity, but let it get tickled. Just once. You’ll probably suck at it the first time, but who doesn’t? Even the creatives you look up to the most sucked major balls at one point.

So go and be total shit at something. Or be great at something. Just feed that creativity. Start with one day and see where that takes you. Don’t do it for me, though. Do it because it’s something good. It’s something great. It’s a little spark of magic you can hold in your hands. And everyone could use a little more magic in this day and age, don’t you think?


If you are a dreamer, come in,
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer…
If you’re a pretender, come it by my fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!
-Shel Silverstein, Invitation-

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