Mulan, dragons, and embracing your creative inner child

When I was growing up, every night before bed my dad would read to me, while I colored in my Audubon bird coloring book (yes, I was homeschooled). At first it was short chapter books, like the Whitey series and Hank, The Cow Dog. Then we graduated to longer classics, mostly historical fiction related to what we were studying in school. He even read the entirety of the Lord of the Rings trilogy to my siblings and me! (Yes. He gets a Gold Star Dad award).

One of my favorite holiday traditions was reading Christmas picture books with my mom on the couch by the tree (real, of course!), pointing out all the details in the beautiful illustrations and enjoying shameless flights of fancy.

Point is, read to your child. No, actually, the point is, I’m a total sucker for kid’s stories and Disney fairytales. Really anything that gives me a chance to indulge my inner child and engage my creative brain.

Real life is hard on child-like creativity. Creative business is even harder on it, ironically. So, here’s your permission. Indulge, even if you feel silly. Because creativity sparks innovation, which will keep your business moving forward.

img_2093I’ve never been much of a costumer (we didn’t celebrate Halloween, and since childhood I’ve harbored a sensible fear of clowns, mascots, and basically anyone wearing costumes).

But a couple months ago my publishing house went to a writer’s conference that had a costume banquet. My colleagues and I agreed to go as steampunked Disney princesses. My favorite Disney movie is Mulan, followed closely by Belle (I mean, she has a whole library of books!). So, of course, I chose to go as Mulan despite being decidedly blond-haired and blue eyed. I even got to break out my photography skills and do a photo shoot of all the Disney princesses (we had Rapunzel, Belle, Merida, and, of course, yours truly).

And I managed to surprise myself how much I enjoyed the rare opportunity to engage my brain in a different way creatively and just play.

Have you ever wondered what makes children so incredibly creative? Have you read a children’s story and marveled at the colors and creativity just oozing from every page?

Personally, I think it’s because children are not bound by the way things “should” be (I.e. the sky is blue, therefore the sky in your picture “should” be blue) and because they play. A lot. All day long, in fact.

They experiment. They try new things. They mix it up, just to see what happens. They create beauty for the sake of beauty itself, completely unconcerned with whether others will like it or if it will sell.

There is a time and a place for business and the bottom line. But it’s equally important as a creative entrepreneur to let your inner child out to play once in awhile. Your creative brain will thank you, and so will your fans.  

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