Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Creative Exercise: Play

I am a worker bee.  I work.  It’s what I do.  One of my big challenges over the last few years has been to learn to have fun.  I have never been a good at having fun.   I’m rather earnest by nature and I take everything Very Seriously.   This means that I’m extremely conscientious and more than a little intense -- which is all well and good when I’m being responsible [which is pretty much all the time], but not so good when I need to stop working and relax or get some new ideas.    

Fun is not someone that I know well.   I’ve heard that she hangs around Inspiration and Relax a lot and I’ve been advised by more than one person that if I’d invite Fun over more often, then Inspiration and Relax would show up, too.    I tried it a few times – and they were right.  It’s just that I keep losing Fun’s number, or perhaps I’m just afraid that Responsibility will get mad if I hang out with Fun too much.  Clearly I need to work on that.  

Wait a minute…. I think I just found a way to Work at Fun.      (Banging head on desk…)

The trick to getting Fun to show up is to let yourself get to know Play.    Play shows up when you stop doing whatever-it-is-that-you’re-doing so seriously.  The relationship between Doing Things Not Seriously and Play is a lot like the Clark Kent/Superman thing. Try it. It really doesn’t matter what you do as long you do it Not Seriously.    Walk from the bathroom to your bedroom, not seriously.   See how not seriously you can go get the mail.   Try turning off the lights, not seriously.   Walk the dog, not seriously.   Clear the table, not seriously.  Every time you do something Not Seriously, it’s Play in disguise.   No kidding.   Keep practicing.  Soon you’ll find a way to turn a lot of your Work into Play.  Wherever you find Play, you’ll soon find Fun.  Fun likes Play and if you can just get Fun to show up, then Inspiration and Relax will show up, too.    

This week’s challenge is about learning how to play again at your art.  Choose a task that you want to do (or are desperate to be done with already) but you’re not that into right now:  New Year’s Resolutions; finishing Chapter 4; writing the orchestration for that sound track; fixing that scene in Act 2; cleaning up your space so you can get to your paint and canvas….you get the idea.  Now start that task – but start it Not Seriously. Not Seriously will turn into Play, who will invite Fun and pretty soon, you’ve got a party.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they bring Silly along.  She may be blonde, but she’s not as dumb as you think.  

Fun and Play may not be looking for commitment. Sometimes they prefer a one night stand.  It’s fine if they show up just long enough to get your creative party started.   And don’t worry that the party will spoil your masterpiece.  This is an easy party to clean up after.   And while you’re straightening things up afterward, you just may stumble on some hidden treasure. 

P.S.  I’d love to know what hidden treasures you found after Fun showed up.  Let me know how you are doing with your creative challenges.  Leave a comment.


  1. I also tend to do things Very Seriously. There's always a danger in turning something you LIKE to do into something you HAVE to do. In trying to make a career out of writing, I've found sometimes it's hard to develop the discipline I need to stay consistent. Somewhere along the way, without my realizing it, writing changed from PLAY into WORK.

    I love this post. I could use some more FUN, dare I say, even SILLY, in my writing and my life.

  2. That discipline you talk about is a powerful too. It's my favorite tool. It's also loud and drowns everything else out. I have to force myself to turn it off once in a while - but then there's the danger of not wanting to turn it back on. Creative work is a paradox.


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