Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

My Experience with the Scrawl Crawl


by Natasha Fisher

On a partially sunny Saturday afternoon, a few SCBWI HI members, friends, and I journeyed to Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens to reconnect with our creative selves. I had been both excited and longing for this event since receiving the invitation. As a working military mom, I don’t have much alone time to explore and create, so this first-ever Scrawl Crawl was a blessed gift. We met in the little museum near the garden’s Visitor Center (that I didn’t even know existed, even though I’d been to the garden before). Surrounded by inspiring, local art, Kirsten shared with us the ROE (Rules of Engagement, for you non-military folks J), warmed us up with a practice exercise, and taught us (well, some of us) a new skill – blind contour drawing! As a writer, any kind of drawing lesson is a bonus to me. After intros and activities, we were released into the contained wild.

I promise I paid attention to the Scrawl Crawl ROE (see above), but once I was free and alone, the fresh air, weird plants, and lack of diapers to change enticed me down different paths. I observed strange yellow plants that looked like baby chicks and bundles of tree trunks that resembled a portal to another dimension. I scribbled my feelings, my thoughts, and my observations; I used differing pages of my journal to transcribe sounds, smells, colors, textures, and ideas. I crunched down less trodden paths, chased beams of sunshine in clearings, and darted teens on photo shoots and kids with fishing poles. I searched for silence, only to run away from unknown creaks in the forest and dart back towards the comforting familiarity of human noises. After spending most of my time wandering and writing (and creating a blind contour drawing on my own, yeah!), I finally found an old, well-worn bench under a feeble little tree whose branches reached farther than they should have. I sat partially facing the known path, and partially facing the lake, opened my Scrawl Crawl instructions and began to write with a purpose. I only had 10 minutes left, so I only completed 2 of the activities before it was time to head back.

We rejoined and shared what we discovered. I was amazed by the stories, witty observances, uncharacteristic notes and drawings, and even story beginnings created by the others. Yes, I was supposed to have done some actual writing, too…oops. The musings I did jot down might have seemed slightly erratic when I shared them, but I can’t tell you how refreshed and energized I was after that Scrawl Crawl. I had a notebook full of new characters, places, plots, and techniques. I might not have done all the activities, but that afternoon was to my creative self what a trip to Aulani’s spa is to my physical self: reenergizing!

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