I have three kids: Yoda, the Moviemaker Kid, and the Peanut. Moviemaker Kid (MK) can read, but has a lot of trouble writing at the moment. He does not let that stop him.
Yesterday, he completed his newest masterpiece, a chapter book called KID NINJA. Because he cannot write down his work, I am his humble scribe. Being the Kid Ninja’s assistant has reminded me of many basic truths about writing and creativity; here’s what he taught me as we worked on this awesomely awesome tale of a kid who likes to destroy things:
1. Get a concept and get excited. Once MK got the concept in mind — bullied kid becomes a secret ninja and gets his revenge – he knew what he was writing about and he couldn’t wait to follow the main character through the story.
2. Keep going. MK wanted to work on KID NINJA every chance he could get. Little snippets of time, long blocks of time…until the project was complete, he wanted to work on it every chance we got.
3. Go with what works. In chapter three, the Kid Ninja goes to a pet store and gets a group of extraordinary pets – a dog that took karate, a cat that was expert in swordplay, a frog scientist, and a hissing cockroach that is also a ninja. These creatures became central to the story, and I don’t think MK knew they existed until Zach, the hero, went to the pet store.
4. Do not censor yourself. The coolest thing I observed in MK’s process was his complete lack of hesitation. His internal editor doesn’t exist yet, so he just wrote the thing, didn’t stop himself every two minutes to ask, “Where can I place this? How could I write something so awful/brilliant/clichéd/original/embarrassing? A hissing cockroach?! WTF” He just. had. FUN.
5. The perfect is the enemy of the good. Was KID NINJA perfect when it was done? Well, no (don’t tell MK I said that, please!). But did he agonize over the gaps in the plot, the ill-defined villains, or the lack of a love interest? Hell, no. He called it good (and it is really, really good) and is now planning a three book series and a spin off series called THE BLACK BLOB.
Sometimes I think becoming a writer means forgetting a lot of what we learn on the rocky road to adulthood. Thank you, MK, for reminding me why I love this crazy thing called writing so much.
With MK’s permission, I will leave you with a stirring excerpt from the amazing, awesome KID NINJA:
There was a boy that always got bullied but nobody knew he was going to become a ninja. But, if they ever saw anything on TV with a ninja they would not think it was him.
His name is Zach. He’s in fourth grade and is ten years old. And he likes to destroy stuff…..
One day on Friday they went to the pet store. They got a dog, a cat, a frog, and a hissing cockroach. But, nobody knew that the cat was a fencer, the dog took karate, the frog was a scientist, and the cockroach was another ninja….
Have a great week, and go forth and conquer, word ninjas!