Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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July 16, 2018

Build Creative Muscles - Through PLAY!

Christina Delay

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.

You can’t go back to kids again.

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?

Imaginative play as an adult.

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?

Take a play break.

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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About Christina Delay

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.

About Creative Wellness Retreats

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.

Join us on beautiful Whidbey Island next April for a one-of-a-kind creative wellness experience.

About Cruising Writers

Cruising Writers brings writers together with bestselling authors, an agent, an editor, and a world-renowned writing craft instructor writing retreats around the world.

Cruise with us to Grand Cayman this October with Kristen Lamb (Bestselling Author and Marketing Jedi), Rachel Caine (Bestselling Author of 50+ books), Deidre Knight (The Knight Agency), and Alex Sehulster (St. Martin’s Press).

Or get ready to Dive Deep and join us on a 7-day Immersion Cruise with Margie Lawson this December to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel!

12 comments on “Build Creative Muscles - Through PLAY!”

  1. Wonderful reminder about the importance of play, and your beautiful daughter is wise beyond her years! I'm going to go rustle up a tiara today!

  2. I love this so much! It's so tempting to just work harder and harder, but keeping your creativity muscles in shape is so important for what we do. Thanks for the much-needed reminder to take play breaks and let our imaginations soar.

    1. It's REALLY tempting to work harder and harder. Because then, it feels like we're in control, right? If I can just do A, then I get B (even though we all know that in this industry, B is never guaranteed). Without play, it's really hard to enjoy the work :).

  3. When I think of adult play, I think of sports, bridge, music, rather than just letting consciousness flow in expression. This is a great reminder that we need to keep our inner child handy and take those play breaks.

  4. I"m with Julie. I'm better with work than completely unplugging. I'm afraid I'd have withdrawal.... But you're right. I should give my parents' voices in my head the finger, and relax!

    But I probably won't...

  5. That's one of the joys of having children - being able to play again. Although, I don't like playing trains with them because I like to have it all set up take all my little people on the train to different places and they like to aim the trains at each other and see what happens when they crash.

    I do a art class once a week and a dance class once a week (that's new for me) - the company is great and the chance to stretch creatively in a different way is just what I need.

  6. What a great idea, Christina. I love interacting [playing] with my five children. I get many ideas for my short stories from creating adventures with my children. Imagination is the best asset we all have to cope in life and create stories that define us.

    I enjoyed the video with your daughter, another great idea for writers. Please tell your daughter she is beautiful. All best to you.

  7. This is so sweet, Christina, interviewing your daughter. Those kiddoes are so wise! I think those of us that like being parents get natural play breaks...because we have to. 🙂

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