Korean novelist Young-ha Kim (TED Talk, Be an artist, right now) understands if you’re too busy, too tired or too flat-out disinclined to make art. “There are hundreds of reasons why we can’t be artists right now,” he says. “Don’t they just pop into your head?” And yet, Kim has a sweeping rebuttal for any and all excuses: Stop being so reasonable. He invites the artistically challenged to suspend their reasonable doubts, if only for a moment, and to try “going a little nuts” on an artistic project. The results, he says, may surprise you.
Art begins with tireless play, so unleash your inner brat. “Almost everything kids do is art,” Kim says. “They dance a strange dance and inflict their singing on everyone. Perhaps their art is something only their parents can bear.” Even parents have their limits, however, and gradually the artistic grace period draws to a close. “Unfortunately, the little artists within us are choked to death before we get to fight against the oppressors of art. They get locked in. That’s our tragedy.”
If anything, Kim says, adults should join in on the fun. They might learn a thing or two about the artistic process. “For example,” Kim says, “a kid says, ‘Mom, guess what? I met an alien on my way home.’ Then a typical mom responds, ‘Stop that nonsense.’ Now, an ideal parent is someone who responds like this: ‘Really? An alien, huh? What did it look like? Did it say anything? Where did you meet it?’” Each lie is an opportunity, Kim insists, to engage in creative storytelling.