The sketchbook is the visual artist’s close companion. It’s a place to experiment, plan, record, and play with creating images. There is, however, no expectation that each and every drawing will become a finished painting.
How many melodies have been discovered while a musician is engaged in aimless musical improvisation, or noodling? As with the artist’s sketchbook, a musician’s noodling is a time of playful creativity with an unstructured freedom to explore without expectations.
COW (Creative Online Writing) is the writer’s version of doodling and noodling. Writers engage in a playfully creative exploration of language, narrative, and personal expression. As with the artist’s sketchbook or the musician’s session of noodling, when a student writes with COW, each piece of writing is not intended to lead to a finished product.
Through the course of using COW, students build up a collection of writings. Just as an artist’s sketch may inspire a painting, or a musician’s noodling may inspire a song, writings in COW can inspire a young author to take a piece of writing and refine it into a finished product.
Call it free writing, word improvisation, or moodling, this stage of the writing process is essential in the development of all writers.