Kelly Flowers


Writing Lessons From My 4-Year-Old In A Whack-A-Mole World


The other day, my 4-year-old, to a room full of cousins and aunts and uncles, performed her song, an original masterpiece called “Flowers In The Field”.


It went like this…

Flowers in the field

Where is everything that grows

A girl walks with her daddy

And picks a flower and the flower dies

But she puts it in water and it comes alive 

Flowers in the field

Flowers in the field 

I turned to my friend Neil and said, “Remember being that fearless about your own creativity? Brave enough to write a song and then sing it out for a room full of people?”

“No,” he said.

“Yeah. Me neither,” I replied.

But I was braver as a child. There’s proof. My first “publication” was a poem in my school yearbook. When running for Elementary School Treasurer (laughable, I know) I gave speeches off-the-cuff. And I sang in talent shows, LOTS of blood-curdling talent shows. Now, I can’t even drunk-karaoke without hyperventilating.

And why is that? Surely, I have a better vocabulary; can more likely carry a tune; and have a lot more thoughtful things to say. I just no longer have the guts to say them. What about growing up beat the bravery right out of me?

So, it got me thinking… How do we recreate the fearlessness we had as children?

3 solutions come up mind…

1. Always be amazing, superhuman – a genius even. Get all A’s. Problem solved.

2. Only show your work to people (like your doting parents, spouse, etc.) who will love you, praise you and top off your confidence cup, regardless of what you produce.

3. Just not care. Seriously. Sociopaths aren’t worried what other people think.

And since I don’t actually have any reasonable solutions, let’s brainstorm for a minute on how to skin this cat.

What I came to were a couple realizations….

1. Other people are creativity killers. It’s not their fault. They aren’t trying nitpick you to pieces. They don’t even mean to do it, most of the time.

It’s just that maturity has made us a lot more perceptive to criticism. Take, for instance, the poetry I submitted for my elementary yearbook. Was it awful? God, yes. But I didn’t have a clue! If someone cringed when I read it, I sure didn’t notice. I thought it was great, therefore I knew that other people would think that too. End of story. I could use a little of that child egotism now.

Brene Brown once said that “There is nothing more vulnerable than creativity” and that’s why fighting for an idea makes us feel like a whack-a-mole.

2. People are wrong. Like… a lot. So even if you get criticism, just know that Mary Mitchell did too. And then there was Gone With The Wind, one of the greatest books of all time, IMHO. So… booyah.

And if that isn’t enough, here is a petty, feel-good fact. There are millions of people out there who are mediocre artists, writers, cooks, speakers, (insert skill here) that are putting what they create out into the world and seeing it become successful.

Now, it’s not our job to nitpick their art, but maybe you should probably put your own art out there, ya know, just to raise the bar. 😉

P.S. My daughter has now changed the lyrics to include a unicorn, which I think is a striking example of not being too wedded to your creation. Gosh… the things I could learn from this kid.

7 thoughts on “Writing Lessons From My 4-Year-Old In A Whack-A-Mole World

  1. Love your writing!


  2. Inspirational and funny! I love that I can hear your voice when I’m reading it.


  3. That’s my favorite song !


  4. Love this! It’s so true and we should all keep raising the bar. I love that Kai has written her first poem/song and will walk in your footsteps of raising that bar. You are, right now, paving a legacy of ‘bar-raisers’ that will shape and change the world into a more creative, colorful place 🙂


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