This is going to sound off topic for me, but it really isn’t. I had an art teacher in my general education art class in college who didn’t give letter grades on anything (not on projects, written assignments, not the midterm, not even the final) – no one knew what grade they were getting for the class until they got it on their transcript.
At first I was rebellious, though not as much as some other students. Not knowing my grades was making me frantic, as I was so terribly focused on getting that really great GPA.
He had us keeping a journal that we had to write, draw, and color in daily. He had us go on walks around campus and make maps in our journal that involved not just writing directions and labels and descriptions, but also doodles and random translations of our sense of taste or smell into whatever form we could figure out. He would say ‘draw that sound’ or ‘color that smell’ and expect us to figure out how to do so. Then there were the art projects – which often involved making a model or even a completed piece of art work out of ‘found objects’ from home or wherever (only stipulation was that they not be so dirty they smelled). We even did that project that you usually do in kindergarten where you make a picture with black and white beans…
I asked him what the deal was, and he told me (I think because I had done a really off the wall midterm project that he was impressed with). What he told me was that he was trying to break down the barriers we had built up around ourselves as we became older and less in tune with our inner child, as well as the world of wonders that surround us. To do this he had to make us unlearn all the rules we had been given from the first time we colored out of the lines and got told sky is blue and grass is green. He felt that finding our way back to that inner child that really loved purple trees and yellow oceans would help us get back in touch with the creative part of ourselves – and that would translate into a better ability to see the world in fresh ways and without preconceptions.
Maybe that doesn’t sound like it has anything to do with writing or editing to anyone else, but to me it is the embodiment of finding our way to our center, to discovering the Zen that is the wonder of seeing the world through the eyes of our inner child – and that is the beginning of finding our way to the great story we are living every day. We just have to find that inner child to do it.