A couple of weeks ago, I filmed a video interview with my six-year-old daughter on one of the elements of creativity: play.
She’s kind of an expert on play. Most kids are, but she had some really fantastic and insightful points about how adults need to relearn how to play. You can watch the full video on YouTube or over on the Creative Wellness Retreats blog, but today, I wanted to explore something she said that really hit me hard.
As her mother, let me translate: You can’t go back to being a kid again.
And yet, as writers, we use one of the biggest tools that a kid has at their disposal: our imaginations. Imaginative play has been proven to be one of the building blocks of not just creativity, but also the understanding that our thoughts differ from other people’s thoughts, overall social and language development, the ability to express and work through difficult emotions, physical development, and a higher level of problem solving.
Think about that.
Imaginative play is the building block of being a successful adult. And as writers who are deeply involved in creative work, shouldn’t we still be involved in imaginative play?
My daughter had a good point. You can’t go back to being a kid again. But you can go back to diving deep into pretend worlds and made-up characters and…wait!
We already do that.
But…I do wonder how much of our writing is surface work and how much is deep work. If you were to allow yourself to go deep into a daydream that existed in your story’s world, what would happen to your writing? If you became less concerned about sentence structure, power words, scene and sequels, story beats, etc., (which can be taken care of during editing) and just fell into your own story, do you think you’d be able to write a deeper story?
Without an imagination, kids have a hard time playing and creating. Without playing and creating, it’s hard to build a strong imagination.
So why have most of us adults given up playfulness in our lives?
If you’re feeling burned out in your work, if you are tired, if you don’t feel joy in your writing, or maybe you’ve just hit a block, take a play break.
Take twenty minutes to free draw, use crayons or colored pencils and color a picture, go work on a puzzle or skip around the house. Turn on some of your favorite music and dance. Like Phoebe-from-FRIENDS dancing, totally uncoordinated, who-cares-who’s-watching dancing. Figure out a way to have fun again and play with your creativity.
Creative play builds creative muscles which leads to strength. Stronger stories, stronger characters, stronger reader impressions. A stronger creative life.
I want that.
We can’t go back to kids again. But we can relearn how to play.
What do you think, WITS readers? What do you do to play?
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Christina Delay is the hostess of Cruising Writers and the brand new Creative Wellness Retreats as well as an award-winning author represented by Deidre Knight of The Knight Agency. When she's not cruising the Caribbean, she's dreaming up new writing retreats to take talented authors on giving into the demands of imaginary people to tell their stories.
Creative Wellness Retreats exist to teach you practical tools to go deeper into your creativity and learn how to protect yourself from burnout and creative blocking. If you’re already in burn out mode, our retreats for authors and artists will offer channels for healing your creativity, using effective techniques that are driven by your MBTI type.
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