Personal editing. Professional results.

Work on making playtime

November 3, 2023
Posted by:
Ron Seybold

Writing seems serious, especially when we have dreams for it. We're making novels or creating great nonfiction that will enrich the lives of readers everywhere. Maybe our memoir will help people see how struggle shows the way to survival. While those are noble and necessary goals, they can get in the way of playtime.

Most of us need playtime to come to adore any pursuit. When your work becomes play, it's not work anymore, is it? It's a complicated answer, but it can be as simple as asking yourself what's the worst that can happen when you try. The worst thing, as it turns out, is when nothing happens because you're not writing, or revising, or dreaming.

I avoid those things when my hopes and expectations run too high. There are near-term goals, and there are goals you achieve later. My greatest near-term challenge is making sentences out of the research and dreams, the knowledge and imagination.

That challenge be true for you, too. We can think of our writing any way we want to, so long as we understand we're in charge of our story about our storytelling. "I never write anything any good after dark" could be true, or it could just be a story to keep you from working in the back half of your day when your energy is lower. Full disclosure: that after-dark story is mine, too.

Until you have outside deadlines, the only ones that will make you work will be the ones you make for yourself. But what if it wasn't work, until later on when the writing was getting to those long-term goals? At first, it can be play, that making of sentences and stories. You might have to work at making writing time playtime. It's a healthy effort for anyone who creates.

Workbooks can make writing more playful, if you look on the right shelves. When I was leading creativity workshops, I found books aimed at young writers with exercises that spoke to the kid in all of us. Once a week we'd scribble away at a prompts like "make five similies or metaphors about what different parts of you body you might wish for." Making metaphors such as "the long, bumpy road of my tongue" gives you permission to play with words.

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