During a school visit a few months ago a teacher commented that my upcoming picture book, The Inventor’s Secret, would be the perfect title to kick off a school Genius Hour program.
Well, not being much of a genius myself, I had to admit to her that I’d never heard of Genius Hour. She kindly explained that Genius Hour encourages students to research and pursue topics they’re interested in for one hour each week (or whatever amount of time a teacher specifies.) The program is aimed at increasing student enthusiasm, creativity, and productivity. Some schools have incorporated another similar program called 20-Time which allows students to select their own independent projects. It seems both of these programs were sparked by Google’s policy which allows their engineers to spend 20% of their time on any project they select.
So all of this got me thinking. Do writers spend much free time thinking about new story ideas? (I mean story ideas the writer is passionate about, not necessarily ideas they think editors or agents are looking for.) Do writers feel they can muse about story topics they really enjoy, even though the topics may not be “saleable”?
Now I know time is valuable. And there never seems to be enough hours in the day to finish the projects at hand. But as I considered the idea behind Genius Hour, I wondered if sometimes we get so caught up in the business side of writing that we forget to allow ourselves the freedom to pause and consider new book topics (fiction or nonfiction) that really move us.
What would happen if we made time for our own Genius Hours? Maybe set aside the first 15 minutes of our critique group time to ponder book ideas or themes that resonate with us. I wonder if we’d come up with great story ideas that we’d be motivated to research and wouldn’t get sick of after the one-hundredth revision.
So to get the ball rolling — what fascinated you as a child? Swans? Snails? Sailboats?
What are you curious about now? Penguins? Peacocks? Paragliding?
Could Genius Hour help you create some awesome books? Why not take a little time off from the “business” of writing to find new creativity and inspiration and find out!
*****************Book Winner from my last post*******************
The winner of an autographed copy of Penny Parker Klostermann’s book, There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight is Maria Gianferrari! Congrats Maria!
[So how does one “randomly” select a winner from people who leave comments on a blog post? Well, there were just under 100 comments on my last post. So I asked my daughter to pick a number between 1 and 100. If her number happened to be a comment I made, I decided to select the next post entry. That’s how it worked!]
“Genius Hour” has a great ring to it. I’d never heard of it either. I love that you passed this along. Maybe Genius Hour will be adopted by writers and illustrators, which would lead to even more great picture books.
Best of luck with your upcoming book and book launch!
Glad I wasn’t the only one who hadn’t heard of Genius Hour! Thanks for stopping by!
What a great post! Thanks, Suzanne, for letting me in on this well-kept secret. We all owe ourselves at least one hour each week in search of our true genius. 🙂
I agree, it would be great if we set aside an hour each week for thinking about fun ideas and musings.
I love the idea of Genius Hour. ( or 20) I’ve never heard of it either and I’m a retired teacher! Today is the birthday of my book, If An Elephant Went to School and it too, is a perfect fit for Genius 20. Thanks for the tip.
Happy Birthday to an Elephant Went to School! I never thought of having a birthday for a book. What a great idea!
Excellent advice, Suzanne, and a good reminder to pay attention to the things that fascinate us (no matter what sort of work we do).
Seems like a simple thing to do, yet it’s hard to remember!
Having just enjoyed a vacation (genius!) I loved this post. It’s so true that making the time to play and create feels like stealing from our “must-do” time, but it’s so important for our creative sides. Thanks for the encouragement (and great justification) to keep on playing!
Welcome back from vacation, and thanks for your great comment!
I love this post. I’m primarily an illustrator and always scrambling to please someone else, genius hour would be a good way to reorient oneself.
Glad you liked the post, and yes, it’s a great idea for illustrators too!
What a great idea! I could see my genius hour turning into a genius week if I’m not careful.
Ah, Genius Week. Now that’s a Genius Idea!
What a great idea–for kids and us authors. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for stopping by!
Genius Hour brought to mind that expression “Great minds think alike”, which we used to say when two of us said the same thing. But what makes great minds great is that they don’t think alike.
Great observation, Sheryl!
Great minds come up with lots of different, genius ideas!
Fantastic advice (from one non-genius to another). I will now incorporate this into my writing life. Thanks, so much!
Glad you found the post helpful!
I am a media clerk-and this idea sounds like so much fun! The students always have assigned work-never researching fun topics! Can’t wait to share this with my school!
Glad you plan to share this idea with your school. You can find more Genius Hour resources on my Pinterest “Genius Hour” board – https://www.pinterest.com/suzannebslade/genius-hour/
The Genius Hour concept is so–so genius! Clever of school teachers to adapt Google’s concept to classrooms and clever of you to suggest it for writers! I plan to use The “Genius Hour Project Proposal” planning sheet you pinned to your Pinterest board. Thanks!
Genius Hour, I like that name. As I have not had anything published and hoping to find something that excites me, I often sit and ask myself, what was so very important to me as a child and let my mind and pen wander. I’ve ended up with many poetic mood pieces, not too publishable (unless I was famous!). Now, however, I’ve learned to take those pieces to the critique group and brainstorm ideas of where the story could go to get published. With the character grounded in that moment, and encouraging myself to find the adventure, find the fun, I’ve found myself on many travels with stories that are much more publishable in today’s market. I keep the first version as my inspiration on days when things are going right (or write!) I think I’ll start a binder called, Tales from the Genius Hour. 🙂
Love your binder idea, and thanks for sharing a bit about your writing journey and how your critique group has helped you. Best of luck!
Dear Jill–Love, inspiring idea! Rhanks!
Whoops. That was “thanks.”
Genius hour is genius! Great reminder and idea to step outside the ‘will it sell’, ‘is it marketable’ trap and just do something for fun. Thank you, Suzanne!