Play, Creativity, and Practice

In my childhood development class, I teach about the relationship between creativity and play. Play is an altered state where children experience improved creativity, decision-making and perception. It also is a means of relaxing and stimulating the body and mind.

My shorthand for this is that when a child is playing, she is becoming. What is she becoming? An integrated human being. Too often, adults interfere with children when they are playing or attempt to enter a child’s world. The result is they stop the play.

When an adult intrudes into a child’s play, they interrupt the altered state. It is no longer play, it is something the adult has contrived.

To my way of thinking, play is essential to creativity. When someone is play deprived, according to some, they are incapable of play. I think they are also incapable of joy. They may enjoy some things, but they are not able to experience joy. The difference is like the difference between sugar and an artificial sweetener that is off taste. One is pure, and the other is contrived.

Writers, I think, have to be able to play in order to create. They are adults who have sustained or recreated their child-like ability to alter their conscious state and reenter their child’s way of seeing the world.

In order for that world to be shared with others, they have to have the discipline to practice written communication until they can distill it to a pure stated. If they succeed in doing that, they invite the reader to join them within their altered state.

Unfortunately, for adults, a small jolt – a mistake – can bring them back to their adult world. They can be lost by the writer. That’s why practice is so vital to the writer. It is through discipline and practice that the writer refines presenting their artistic view of the world in a believable way.