Writer Confessions: 66 Days of Play - Play is the New Meditation

Manatee Ice Sculpture 2

Writer Confessions: 66 Days of Play, Week 3: Play is the New Meditation

Hi Merworld friends. Week 3 of 66 Days of Play was a fantastic success by all accounts. According to research on meditation, innovative ideas and problem-solving best occur when you’re in a relaxed, carefree state of mind. A Harvard Business Review article suggests that as little as 10 minutes of meditation a day can have a profound shift on our approach to creativity. If humans can free up creative brain space by sitting quietly in mindfulness, it stands to reason that playing – the act of doing something pleasant, solely for the purpose of joy – could propel us forward too.

It's not difficult to see the connection between play and creativity. Think back to when you were a small child. Did you incorporate imagination into play? Did you turn a stick into a sword or magic wand? Did you create characters and personalities with your dolls and action figures? Fast forward to adulthood and we still enjoy imagination through books, movies, games, cosplay, and countless other pastimes.

Well, this week I am proud to report that I have played my way into a CREATIVE BURST. Successfully relaxed enough in body and spirit, that I have solved a creative dilemma of my own. The problem I have solved is this: I will market my young adult novels…to young adults. Revolutionary, I know. But hear me out.

As a self-published author, I have chosen to take on the exciting (and scary) task of handling all my own marketing and promotion. I’ve chosen this path for several reasons, the main one being I want to create the Merworld where my novels exist in my own vision without limitations. However, writing quality novels at a pace that can be published at least once a year, while developing and delivering well-constructed branding and marketing materials is no easy feat. Add to this a professional consulting career, a family life, and the occasional need for sleep and this challenge quickly becomes overwhelming.

Needless to say, I was in a state of analysis paralysis. Unsure how to market my novels and spinning with dozens of ideas, but nothing quite feeling right. Marketing 101 says that I should connect with and engage my target audience in a meaningful, genuine way. And I want to do exactly that. I want to create fun experiences. Entertainment. A way to forget about the real world for a while. I want to tie my love of all things dream-worthy into tangible creations to share with the world. So then, why all the trouble pulling my thoughts together?

The crux of the issue is common to many YA authors. A real sticking point in a perceived dilemma: How do I promote a novel to young adults when I am no longer personally in that demographic? How can a thirty-something-year-old connect to teens and twenty-somethings in a way that feels authentic to their experience, but also to me as an author.

And then in the peaceful state of my post-playtime bliss, the miraculous happened. A solution zapped into my mind like a bolt of lightning: avatar website.

I would make the Merworld and my young adult characters relatable through online world-building.

Again, not like this is super revolutionary. Sadly, it is not yet a massive scientific breakthrough in the exploration of parallel universes (check in next week). But at the same time, this affirmation is a big deal to me and my goals. I’ve finally figured out how to tie all my marketing efforts into one, growth-centric platform that feels genuine.

My point is this – when I was stressed about my marketing dilemma, frantically searching for answers and forcing it, the thought of an avatar website never occurred to me. Which is pretty ridiculous given that I work in the tech space. Not with gaming or world-building directly, but I know enough about tech to be dangerous. Then when I finally relaxed. When I finally stopped working and started PLAYING, the all-too-obvious solution became visible.

So cheers to temporarily invisible – but ripe for the picking if we chill out – answers to our problems!

Here’s a peek into my bursting with creativity week:

Day 15: Brainstormed ideas for my newest YA book series marketing idea: Glacia’s mercreature website. An avatar-based glimpse into the Merworld, showcasing my main character Glacia and her friends’ experiences.

Day 16: Woke up super early (not by design) and did several online yoga videos before the sun came up.

Day 17: Took a break from creating and watched Netflix.

Day 18: Wrote a whole new chapter for Book 2 in my Ice Floe series. Based on recent editorial feedback, I wanted to create a new scene to better tie the mystery plot into subsequent scenes. The new chapter promises a bit of romantic drama, a mystery clue, and a whole bunch of mercity world creation.

Day 19: Toured our quaint Wisconsin downtown to see a display of marine-inspired ice sculptures. My favorite was the merman drinking a beer and the manatee…aka sea cow…aka sea potato.

Day 20: Mapped out some skits/video ideas for Glacia’s online merworld and merchandise.

Day 21: Played with avatar creation and researched voiceover options for new website plans. There are some crazy cool VR options that seem fairly customizable even for someone who doesn’t code.

The big idea from this week? PLAY IS THE NEW MEDITATION. Which is awesome if, like me, you’ve tried meditation many times before and have yet to reap all the benefits. Maybe some of us aren’t built to sit still in silence as a means to unlock fresh ideas. Maybe some of us are built to play and explore and dive headfirst into a murky pool before the water finally settles.

Get out there and do something fun, Merworld. Talk to you next week. You flipping rock!