Don’t Forget to Play

Some of you have made resolutions–big ones, small ones, ones you make every year, ones you have never made before. You are focusing hard on keeping them going. Maybe a week into the New Year, you are feeling some pressure to keep going.

May I add something? Please give yourself some time to play. Not work harder. Not work smarter. Play. Not do the laundry first, not check your to-do list. Play.

Play is vital work. It sets your brain up to solve problems. It relaxes your muscles and allows you to take a break from the usual tension, fear and anger. Play is one of the most important activities you can do every day.

imagesWhat’s play? It’s activities that do not end in a completed project. Play is exploring without expectation of completion. Play is experimenting without any anticipation of a result, of winning. Play is the most important part of your day.

Play is fresh air and sunshine into your soul. Play is a big space to allow thoughts to grow. Play heals. Don’t shortchange yourself. Don’t push it to the end of the day. Don’t discipline yourself out of play.

—Quinn McDonald is a writer who is working on the book on your inner heroes and your inner critic.


18 thoughts on “Don’t Forget to Play

  1. Aloha Quinn!

    Yes… PLAY. A big thing for so many of us.

    A few years ago, I had the great opportunity of taking a writing workshop with Lynda Barry. She mentioned one of the saddest things she’d ever seen was a child who didn’t know how to play. There was a sound in the room–a cross between a gasp and a choke. It resonated with all of us–or at least MOST of us–in the workshop. We could relate. We were that child. Or perhaps we had become that child.

    Taking risks. Playing. Changing things up. All so important.

    In my own work, I spent years trying to be I thought everyone wanted me to be. I played it safe. I played it STERILE(ly). And It was D.U.L.L. And I was unhappy.

    Only now am I re-learning that valuable skill of PLAYING. Of taking risks in my creative work. And I am finding my own voice–not the voice that I thought people wanted to hear. And, as it turned out, not the voice that was destined to fall on closed ears.

    Stephen Nachmanovitch wrote a great book, FREE PLAY. All about remembering that creative spark that one can access thru play to help push one’s work to new levels. Authentic levels. That book (along with RAW ART JOURNALING, of course!) have been my faithful companions on this journey of rediscovering and creating.

    And this time, the voice is more real. And I’m having FUN. What a cool surprise!

    Thank you for this timely reminder. May we all remember to play.
    Right on.

    • This is such an important take on play that I hope many people read it. Play is where we discover ourselves and the courage to be whoever it is we are. The artists I respect most are those who follow their calling even when others don’t understand the work. Ideas live in play. Thanks for this important message to all of us, Jason.

  2. I play all the time. I learned how important that was many years ago while spending over 10 years at a job I could not stand. Hated every moment of it, so I found ways to do little things to make it more enjoyable for myself. I still try to do that with anything I have to do and suggest it to others all the time as well. Even little changes like using green or purple ink when writing notes can feel like play if you normally use black ink. Sometimes we need to start with baby steps!

  3. After mulling this over for quite some time, I think just about all I do is play. Or possibly I’m just extremely bad at work. Hard to explain, really, but for me there is no particular distinction between two sets of things I do, one set being “play” and the other “work”. As usual, it’s a lovely view from three standard deviations away!

  4. Growing up our play was work.
    If we had to clean out the hen house we made a game of it. If our doll needed a new gown we made it. We went fishing because we needed dinner!
    We (me and my five siblings) worked and played as a unit. The highlight of our year was when the wood for the winter was delivered. We were allowed to play (build a fort or toys etc) with it for a week before we had to stack it in the shed.
    Whenever I tackle a big job I still look for a way to turn it into play and usually find it too.
    Learning how to play without the end product is disappointing to me. I guess that means I don’t know how to play.

    • The idea of playing with the wood for a week before it was put away is brilliant. I think you know how to play, but you are focused on a practical or functional end to your play. That’s fascinating in itself. How do you explore or experiment? If you are doing that and it doesn’t end in a useful project, but ends in ideas that lead to a useful project, I would think that’s playing. Would you? (Ohhhh, another rich topic of discussion!)

  5. I give this advice out all the time. Unfortunately I am not always so good at taking my own advice.
    Perhaps for many of us it comes from our childhood. Yes we were able to play so much more than as adults, but we were also told things like ‘do your chores before you play’ or ‘finish your homework before you play’, and now we still follow those same guidelines.

    • True on both counts. I struggle with playing also, but it works so well when play happens! Years of childhood training taught me to finish chores before I play, and many Saturdays as an adult were spent running errands and cleaning instead of playing with my son. His memories of Saturdays are always about grocery shopping for the week and cleaning and not about kite flying. I had to do cook on weekends, but how I wish I had let the housework slide more often!

  6. Indeed thank you for this reminder! I often don’t allow myself to play because there is so much to do…….and the strange thing is these things are creative things but for an assignment…..maybe I need to play some time in advance before starting with the ‘ real work’……I can hear myself saying..that’s great but you have to clean up the chaos which you were playing with first before you can start with the other work…….but I can give it a try!

    • My studio generally looks like an explosion in the creativity factory. I clean up, feel happy, then create another explosion by working. When it comes time to play, I also have discipline issues, but when it works, it’s bliss!

Join the conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.