How to Nurture Creativity in Kids


About our Guest, Dan Haring

Dan Haring has worked as an animator for Disney, Sony pictures, and is an author.

Some of his work includes the animation for Tangled, Incredible Hulk, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Hotel Transylvania, and Rio 2, and he now works in video games and virtual reality.

With video games and VR, it’s a little different because it uses a game engine; with movies and animation, the output is not interactive.

Growing up Exploring

Dan says that his background led to his creative nature.

He grew up in a rural area on 2 acres of land with lots of animals, and not a lot of TV or video games. It was up to them to entertain themselves they had a lot of freedom.

They could go out and explore. They would have GI Joe fights and play in the sandbox. He and his brother would ride bikes around the town. It really helped his creativity.

Raising Creative Kids

With his own kids, they struggle with this because they have a small backyard and there isn’t as much for the kids to do out there.

His kids love screens like most screens do. Their van has a DVD player in it and the kids all want to watch a movie even on a short drive.

“When we were young,” Dan says, “we had to use our imaginations, it’s a concern, when kids always feel the need to be entertained and aren’t able to find that creativity inside themselves and use their imagination and creativity to get along without being shown something.”

Fostering Creativity

To foster creativity and the desire to use imagination, adults need to back off and allow kids to have more free time to be able to be kids.

Let them have this part of their life where anything is a possibility. Dan writes middle grade stories where it’s this magical time in their life where they’re on the cusp of real life and magic. We need to let them go out and explore those things.

It’s an integral part of growing up, that ability to explore. Let them have a childhood, because they are going to be grownups before we know it.

Being Creative is Work

William Faulkner said that he only writes when inspiration strikes, but fortunately it strikes at 9:00 every morning, meaning that he has to do the work.

He can’t just wait for the muse to hit him or the inspiration to strike.

If you want to be a writer, you need to write every day.

If you want to be an artist, you need to draw every day. You need to get the bad stuff out of the way.

It’s been said that you have a million bad drawings in you and you have to get rid of those drawings before you can start creating good art.

The idea is that you can’t create good art until you are consistently doing it. Even if it doesn’t turn out that good, it’s a process of working those muscles and trying to achieve something.

Just Start

That leads into the idea of rough drafts.

People want to write this amazing thing, so they sit down and they write a chapter and they rework that chapter 50 times, but it’s never going to be perfect.

The whole idea is that you want to create something complete, and then you can mold that complete thing into what you want it to be.

Hemingway said something like the first draft of anything is garbage. You are not creating a masterpiece from the start.

If you look at master paintings, from master artists, they go out and do studies, they work from very broad strokes to very fine details.

Creativity is the Act of Doing

Creativity is the act of doing it and not waiting to for something to strike you.

It’s the work that’s involved with doing it every day.

Doing it every day, you become disciplined and it will become easier to get into the groove.

The only way to get out of writers block is to write; you have to write your way out of it.

Dan taught a drawing class at community college.

Almost without fail, people would say, “I can’t even draw a stick figure.”

He would remind them that as children, they used to draw. As we grow older we fall away from it, maybe in part because of comparison.

By the end of the semester, almost every student was amazed at how well they had progressed.

It was for two reasons:

1. because they put in the work, and

2. because they continue to learn new things.

There have been a lot of advancements in the field of neuroplasticity of the brain, proving that we can teach our brains new things.

Dan says, “I think creativity is not something that you have or don’t. Anybody can be creative and cerate something that others can enjoy. Go out and create something; observe. Everything you see is going to inform the art that you create.”

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