Thinking like a kid

Several years ago, my wife and I went to an office supply store to get a few Back to School items for her classroom. The school, located in an urban district, provides a budget, but it’s usually not much, so we usually cover the rest for paper, pencils, extra library books for her students, etc.

My wife is all business on these trips. Meanwhile, I’m like a kid in a candy store, eyeing up the pens and journals. I’m sure that’s exactly what she wants, right? Me along for the ride, ogling another writing journal to stack on my desk.

On this trip, though, something else caught my eye. Instead of throwing a pen into our cart, I tossed in a small box of Crayola Crayons. The yellow and green box even promoted that it was “preferred by teachers.” If I had found the box of 64 crayons with a sharpener on the back, like Crayola sold when I was a kid, I might have broken out into tears right on the spot.

“Aww, thanks hon,” my wife said, grabbing the pack and putting them back on the shelf. “Thanks for thinking of me, but I’m good with crayons this year.”

I sheepishly put them back into the cart. “Um, they’re for me.” 

A big kid

I keep the crayons in a desk drawer. They haven’t been used much, many of the crayons still have a sharp point. There’s a crayon missing, but the pack looks as crisp as the day we bought them. The crayons, though, serve a different purpose. 

Instead, the crayons have a mysterious power of drawing out memories, no matter when they happened, and helping me put words to the images and abstract thoughts in my head.

When I can’t figure out what I want to write or need inspiration, I like to dig the crayons out and put them up to my nose. I close my eyes and take a whiff of the familiar waxy smell. I’m inevitably taken back to simpler times, when my biggest worry was trying to find the red crayon, but having to make do with the lighter scarlet one to make the smile on my smiley face or coming up empty in my search for a simple blue crayon. I’m the youngest of three boys, so most times the crayons in our house were a broken mess. (Thank you brothers.)

The power of creativity

The crayons bring together my different senses — sight, smell, touch and even hearing. I draw a tree or mountain on a small piece of paper. My mind starts to wander and race in different directions. For a minute, I’m a kid again without the pressures and worries of adulthood. I can create and relax and not feel the stress to produce.

An Entrepreneur Magazine story that I saw a few years ago explained it better than I ever could. It talked about how the atmosphere we surround ourselves influences our ability to tap into our creative juices.

Creative people tend to naturally understand the importance of establishing “the right environment that will both stimulate creativity and let ideas flow. They set up their work space and living space in a way that is comforting and relaxing. They seek out places where their mind is free to relax and wander.”

For me, the crayons represent my safe space. They remind me that there are no wrong answers, just solutions still to be found. They remind too that you there no limits, just dreams.

What’s you’re creative safe place look like?


Thank you for reading. Please join in on the discussion on the HoTM site. In addition, please visit my personal blog at or follow me on Instagram at @writingfromtheheartwithbrian.

All the best, Brian.

29 thoughts on “Thinking like a kid

  1. Love the thought about sights, smells…setting the tone for creativity using all the senses. And I hadn’t thought about the smell of crayons for years! Thanks for the fun memory lane moments…

    My creative ‘safe space’ always has family memorabilia around. I like resting my eyes on treasures…but I also enjoy a good view of nature if I can wrangle that, too. 😊

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m with you, I tend to have family pictures and memorabilia near where I work. I think it helps with the idea generation, especially since that’s what I find the most fun to write – real life stories. You’re right about nature too. We talked about woods last week. I feel the need to get out and hike now that the weather is getting nicer. I don’t need a long hike, I just need to be out in the woods away from others. When I do something like that, I’ll come away with a mountain of ideas and things I want to research for future pieces, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely post, Brian. I, too, have an almost-new box of crayons in my filing cabinet along with journals I picked up at a really good price! My creative space is at my desk, surrounded by all my genealogy research, my computer, and a short ceramic vase filled with a bulky handful of colored pencils. I learned to love the broken crayons once I realized I could peel the paper off and use the sides to color larger areas. Being on the second floor I peer out over the treetops. It is a glorious view.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s wonderful to know that I’m not the only one!!!!! I can tell my wife and kids tonight that I’m not the only adult in the world who has their own box of crayons. Ha, ha. But, you had me, when you talked about your journals. I’ve slowed, but I do tend to buy a lot of journals. Now I’m currently out of the habit of journal writing, but I find I still have to fight the urge to buy them. Ugh. I love the image of looking out over the trees. There’s a small woods behind our house, I love to just look back and take in the scene, it definitely helps spur on my creativity. Thanks so much for sharing your creative space!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I like spare journals easily accessible when I want to create or write about separate and distinct subjects. I rarely journal these days.


  3. Crayons! So fun. I write in my sunroom, with nature in full view. For art, I have a special room, with brushes and paints in full view and canvases lined up against the walls. Hard to close the door on that space.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, you’ve got me envious VJ. A sunroom. I would probably never leave. Unfortunately, you would probably have to kick me out. Ha, ha. And yes, your art room, I might never leave there either. It sounds enticing . . . even though I’m not blessed with a lot of brush and painting skills. Fun rooms. Thanks so much for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You’ve got me Dr. Stein. Yes, yes, love some bazooka! I was making a long car ride recently and stopped to get some caffeine to keep me awake. I bought some Bazooka . . . the hard gum worked just like the crayons, took my thoughts back to when I was a kid. Funny how that works. I was definitely in kid heaven.


  4. My creative sage space would be my desk, which has my page a day calendar with a quote and one with art, my cup warmer, my pencil cup, a few books and pictures. Perfect. Of course, I need to be alone…people at home crushes my creativity

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, you bring up an interesting point: people. I find that I need to be by myself for the initial idea generation. When I write, I prefer to come up with my idea and have 90 percent of the draft done. I have found over the years that I do like to involve others later in the process. I think back to years and years ago when I worked as a reporter. I used to love having a good friend read my stuff right before I sent it to the copy desk. It was great to throw ideas back and forth of possible ledes or funny punchlines. I loved the back and forth. I felt like it made me a better writer. But yes, for the most part, I prefer no one else around.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I love my writing group…we met this morning and I love the creativity of talking about the work. But for the work…I need to be alone

        Liked by 1 person

  5. “Um, they’re for me.” I love that! 😂 And as Vicki mention, your description of the sight, the smell, and the feel of the crayons took me right back to my childhood.

    The topic of creative safe spaces has me thinking. We’ve been out of our home for 14 months, but I had an office/craft room where I could leave things out and return later… creative freedom. I’ve been less creative since being away, and I wonder now if it’s because I’m staying in a environment where clutter is not allowed. I think I like having whatever I’m working on laid out, available, and ready to inspire.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, guilty as charged, definitely for me. 😎 You bring up a great point about the safety of keeping things out. I tend to call my work space, an organized mess. It’s not overly messy, but I still like to keep papers out so that I can come up with ideas and come back to them. If I have to store everything day by day, I tend to have lose ideas or start to censor myself, thinking that oh that’s not a good enough idea, I’ll throw those papers/ideas away. Here’s hoping you have a chance to get back to a permanent office/craft room and more creative space!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t really have a “space” anymore. As I live alone I don’t have to worry about quiet or segregating my stuff from someone else’s things. I had a desk when I moved here but never used it much. I do like to be near a front window though to watch the world go by and the birds come to the feeders. I need very little- mostly just a comfy place to park my rear end 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love your conclusion that crayons = no wrong answers. That makes so much sense and gives such freedom. I read somewhere (now I can’t think of it) that smell access our brains differently which is why is can spark such powerful memories! Beautiful writing – and great creativity, Brian!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t always think of smell as a primary sense, but it really does play a big role. The smell of crayon takes me back, but certain cooking smells make me think of my Amish grandmother too. It’s kind of funny. And yes, I do believe crayons = no wrong answers. If corporate America was smart, it would take out all the white boards and collaboration apps and replace them with crayons. I think the number of great new ideas would spike upward. Ha, ha.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I too have a box of crayons that Mr. Z and I purchased for the “little ones” who visit our home. Yeah right, they are for us “big kids”! Shouldn’t we all have a box for emergency purposes?! I love my office/project room that is filled with items that inspire me at different moments throughout the day and I enjoy a large window that looks out to nature for daydreaming and grounding. But many times, I am inspired at the strangest places or times! Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, yes, definitely there for the little ones! Mine too! Ha, ha. Of course, you’re right, us big kids need some inspiration once in a while too. I love your idea of an emergency box. I’m out running errands, need some inspiration, so I crack open the emergency set stored in my glove compartment (assuming they haven’t melted). I’m with you, I love a large window. In fact, I’m rethinking how I can rearrange my home office. Right now, I’m facing away from the window and I think that’s part of the reason I don’t like the room. I think we all use a little bit of inspiration. Thanks so much for sharing AW!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I had quite the chuckle reading about your wife’s focus and your different focus on this shopping trip. You are a big kid and it’s that inner kid that keeps you young and endlessly creative!


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