Writer Confessions: 66 Days of Play - Play is the Baseline to Creativity
Writer Confessions: 66 Days of Play, Final Days: Play is the Baseline to Creativity
Hi Merworld friends. I’ve come to the end of a 66-day stretch where I endeavored to do one fun thing per day just for the joy of it. I didn’t bother with whether my hobby had a purpose or whether I was any good at it. Rather, I simply paused my standard busy day to do one thing for myself that made me smile.
My 66 Days of Play was an interesting experiment. I had several profound ah-hah moments and some days where I really didn’t want to do anything but carved out ten minutes anyway. I revitalized my love of dancing and made great strides in my creative writing. But aside from gracing the world with my stellar dance moves and writing the next best seller (please and thank you), did adding playtime into my day reap the expected benefits?
Researchers suggest that PLAY is important to a healthy life because it helps support our mental health, improves our ability to relate to others, and increases our drive and hope for the future.  For me, I found these things to be true in the following ways:
- Stress Buster – If you’re picking something you truly enjoy, it’s nearly impossible to be grumpy while you’re playing. Even the days when I was in a less-than-motivated mood, after a few minutes of playing, my shoulders relaxed, my worries became fewer, and a smile crept onto my face. This was particularly true when doing something silly like jumping around the living room with my pet.
- Social Catalyst – This benefit was important for me post-covid living. As one who generally became an indoor hermit during covid, launching myself back into society was a little daunting. Rather than diving back into work-related happy hours and events, I searched for fun things. It was great to meet new people and again, it’s nearly impossible not to smile when you’re in a room full of fun-loving peers.
- Inspiration Igniter – My favorite outcome of this experiment is the new ideas that developed during my relax-time. I found myself solving problems and imagining new paths forward with minimal effort. It’s like I finally freed up a plot in my brain which allowed a flower garden to begin blossoming.
It’s this last point, Inspiration Igniter, that I feel is truly transformational. There are other ways to help cope with stress – exercise, massage, therapy, etc. All helpful in lowering blood pressure, but not necessarily what I would consider playtime activities. The same is true with being social. I love a good party or picnic like the next gal, but depending on the event, it may or may not tick my specific play preferences.
But there is nothing I’ve found that unlocks the creative juices as well as playing.
Meditation. Flow. Passion projects. Inspired action. All synonymous with PLAY. We change the words around to sound more adult, more spiritual, more productive, but these concepts speak of the same thing. These words elicit a liberating mindset that allows you to dial-in, explore, and make mistakes. An opportunity to be fully you without worrying about the practicality of it all. When you meditate, when you’re in the flow – what are you doing? You’re getting in the zone to create, learn, or experience something that lights you up. The same is true with PLAY, but here’s the best part. PLAY is the baseline. It’s a tangible thing you can do right now without all the philosophy attached.
I initially chose 66 days as the time box for my experiment because that’s the average number of days it takes to form a habit. Yet now that I’ve worked on prioritizing this PLAY mindset, I don’t want to stop. The changes in my well-being and creativity are still taking hold. I want to see how the transformation continues and ensure the positive changes are permanent. And I invite you to join me.
If you’re in a rut. If you’re not feeling your best emotionally. If you’re experiencing writer’s block. If you don’t know what you’re experiencing but life has lost the shimmer it once had… Give PLAY a try. Worst case scenario you’ll make some fun memories. Best case, the better brighter world you’ve daydreamed of will unfold.
Until next time, Merworld. You flipping rock!