How to Raise a Creative Child

Yeppers, TV writing fans, TVWriter™ has done it again. We’re bringing you something absolutely essential for your life – if your parents had read it 20+ years ago. This article still has some relevance, though. For one thing, it’ll rekindle all that vitriol you felt for your family. You know, the emotions that made you turn to writing. And for another, if you read and remember, then this definitely will help those strange little aliens known as your kids:

litte girl creatingby Dr. Judith Schlesinger

2014 year brought a delightful piece of serendipity to my mailbox. When Canadian Bernard Poulin read his local newspaper’s account of my book,The Insanity Hoax: Exposing the myth of the mad genius, he was moved to send me a copy of his own, Beyond Discouragement—CREATIVITY: How to raise a creative child(Classical Perceptions, 2010).

Poulin (POO-lin) is a successful and world-class professional (see his amazing artwork here).  Beyond Discouragement builds on four decades of his so-called “wonderings,” as well as his years of working with kids in remedial settings, and is illustrated with his own charming drawings.  It’s hardly news that self-publishing can restrict one’s audience—this book has been out for four years without acquiring a single amazon review. But it also enables authors to color outside the lines of political correctness without alarming any editors.  And so this one does. Frequently.

True, the area is already chockablock full of advice. A Google quest for “teaching creativity” produces 50,000 hits, while amazon offers over 4,000 resources of its own (including that 24-pack of quill feathers in assorted colors, and the fuschia violin). As you’d expect, most books were written by educators, psychologists and motivational entrepreneurs of various stripes.  It’s far less common to hear from those in the actual trenches whose immersion in creativity is most direct, personal, and visible—i.e., the artists themselves. It’s even more unusual when these author/artists have a background in mental health, and can pinpoint the issues of psychological concern.

In fact, Poulin’s history does give more weight to his wonderings. Originally trained as an elementary school teacher, and later certified in special education, Poulin founded a residential school in a former orphanage. A warm and welcoming respite for children with difficult living situations, his school flourished for three years until the government pulled the plug, dispersing the young ones from the only home and school many had ever known. Poulin then ran the first-ever classroom for troubled French-speakers for the local school board, as well as one that was part of a psychiatric hospital. In 1978, after too many battles over the benefits of nurturing staff versus psychotropic medication, Poulin began his visual arts career.

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What You Don’t Know About Creativity & ADHD

Unless, of course, you do, in which case we know you haven’t even read this far in this sentence:

calvin-attentionThe Creative Gifts of ADHD
by Scott Barry Kaufman

“Just because a diagnosis [of ADHD] can be made does not take away from the great traits we love about Calvin and his imaginary tiger friend, Hobbes. In fact, we actually love Calvin BECAUSE of his ADHD traits. Calvin’s imagination, creativity, energy, lack of attention, and view of the world are the gifts that Mr. Watterson gave to this character.” — The Dragonfly Forest

In his 2004 book “Creativity is Forever“, Gary Davis reviewed the creativity literature from 1961 to 2003 and identified 22 reoccurring personality traits of creative people. This included 16 “positive” traits (e.g., independent, risk-taking, high energy, curiosity, humor, artistic, emotional) and 6 “negative” traits (e.g., impulsive, hyperactive, argumentative). In her own review of the creativity literature, Bonnie Cramond found that many of these same traits overlap to a substantial degree with behavioral descriptions of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)– including higher levels of spontaneous idea generation, mind wandering, daydreaming, sensation seeking, energy, and impulsivity.

Research since then has supported the notion that people with ADHD characteristics are more likely to reach higher levels of creative thought and achievement than people without these characteristics (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here,here, and here). Recent research by Darya Zabelina and colleagues have found that real-life creative achievement is associated with the ability to broaden attention and have a “leaky” mental filter– something in which people with ADHD excel.

Recent work in cognitive neuroscience also suggests a connection between ADHD and creativity (see here and here). Both creative thinkers and people with ADHD show difficulty suppressing brain activity coming from the “Imagination Network.“

Of course, whether this is a positive thing or a negative thing depends on the context. The ability to control your attention is most certainly a valuable asset; difficulty inhibiting your inner mind can get in the way of paying attention to a boring classroom lecture or concentrating on a challenging problem. But the ability to keep your inner stream of fantasies, imagination, and daydreams on call can be immensely conducive to creativity. By automatically treating ADHD characteristics as a disability– as we so often do in an educational context– we are unnecessarily letting too many competent and creative kids fall through the cracks.

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9 Ways to Stop Procrastinating on Your Screenplay


by David Silverman

According to writer-therapist Dennis Palumbo, a friend, Facebook friend and personal mentor,  procrastination is ultimately about a fear of being judged. He tells his clients (screenwriters, tv writers, and novelists), that instead of obsessing about it, they should write about it, as a dialogue with themselves, or as if they were writing a letter to themselves.

1.  Ironically, often just writing about procrastination gets a writer writing, and, this is in itself a cure.  This simple process helps many of his clients.  Further exploration of these underlying beliefs can be done in therapy, but that’s not something you can do now.

(If you do want therapy, remember Dennis is out in the Godforsaken Valley somewhere, while I’m centrally located in West LA). is a website that links procrastinators up to “buddies,” who will hold them accountable.  Without going into therapy, you can look inward, and try to figure out the nature of the kinds of task you find difficult and which emotions or behaviors are at play.  Examples are:

Unpleasant tasks,  complex projects,  fear of failure (lack of self confidence) and fear of success,  indecision,  lack of interest, and distraction (or lack of focus).  They recommend:

2. Complete unpleasant tasks first.
3. Break complex jobs into smaller, more manageable tasks.
4. With fears, maintain focus on the end result, and remember how good it will feel to finish.
5. For indecision, make a deadline to make a decision, and keep to it.
6. For lack of interest, schedule tasks for when you’re at your peak and reward yourself.
7. For distraction, make it a rule not to leave the desk until a smaller task is done and prioritize.

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Productivity Tip – Make Your Writing Play, Not Work

Cuz when it becomes work instead of the thing you want – or need – to do more than anything else in the world, hey, you’re not gonna do it. Happens every time:

On-Treating-Writing-as-a-Form-of-Playby Eli Glasman

For years before my novel was published, I felt insecure about whether or not I was a ‘real’ writer. I don’t think this is a unique anxiety amongst unpublished authors and I responded to this anxiety in the way I think many people do: I romanticised the act of writing.

I told myself that the burden of writing fiction was thrust upon me and I had no choice but to sit each night and delve into the unknown to produce works of genius. Writing like this didn’t flow easily for me. And as a result, it was hard to read. The prose were pretentious and calculated. It was clear that everything I wrote was me begging the reader to think of me as a genius.

I told myself that if it was easy to write it meant that it wasn’t any good. Good fiction needed to be sweat over. If it was hard, it meant I’d worked at it and it was worthy.

This attitude to writing was one I’d been carrying around in my head since I was a kid. On my weekends and days off, I wrote all day. It was all I thought about. I’d obsess over the stories, especially the syntax, running through sentences over and again in my head until I’d memorised them.

I have a habit of over analysing myself, but I think I obsessed over writing as a childish way to simplify things, as I was not in an emotional position to take on the complexities of life.

It felt safer to focus on this alone, as it meant I didn’t need to focus on many of the pressures we all face, such as finding a job and becoming financially independent, or worrying about the things that may have been more specific to me, such as the Crohn’s Disease and my recent decision to no longer remain an orthodox Jew.

As I’ve spoken about previously on my blog, when I started socialising and earning my own money, I found that writing didn’t need to take on the task of carrying my entire sense of self and keeping at bay my anxieties. I felt more comfortable with my life and could relax and have fun with my writing.

As a result, my writing immediately improved, because I was treating it as what it really was, which is a form of play. In not romanticising it, I could allow myself to be crap for a little while and acknowledge that it was something I needed to learn to do, rather than some pure expression that flowed flawlessly through me.

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Fear or Faith – Notes on Creativity and Courage

It takes courage to be creative. The more creative we allow ourselves to be, the more we put our fragile psyches at risk. Do you have what it takes to accept the challenge?

Booksigningby Sherry Campbell Bechtold

Faith or Fear.

I heard recently that every choice we make in our lives is made based on one of two things: Faith or Fear. Consider this….you get an idea in your head about something you might want to do. You may dismiss it immediately because its energy just isn’t enough to merit further thought. But, then there are those ideas that just keep rolling around in your head – the ones that won’t go away. A time for choice is close. You can choose to act on it or not. Choosing to NOT act is something we do all the time, and that choice is often based on Fear. Fear of failing. Fear of looking stupid. Fear of change. Fear of losing something, someone. Fear of the unknown. Fear of leaving our comfort zone. The list of Fears is endless.

The choice to act on your idea is one of Faith. Faith that no matter what happens, you will handle it. Faith that even if you “fail”, you will have learned something. Faith that if you lose something, someone, you will also find. Faith that we will establish a new comfort zone.

At a young age, I was forced to make this same choice – cling to a toxic situation, even though it was what I knew, or make a drastic change, having the faith that I would be better off, whatever might happen. Perhaps it was at that moment that I established my “modus operandi”….

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How to Stay Motivated


This dude’s name is James Victore, and a lot of people of our acquaintance swear by him.

Which isn’t the same as how they deal with, erm, us, which is swear at us.

James Victore knows stuff and shares it on YouTube.

Cuz he’s…well, you know, motivated.

And what he says is helpful as hell:

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