Slow Summer Creativity: Play

Through July I’ll be sharing a gentle prompt each week loosely themed on creativity. It’s about creating space to explore without pressure of performing, play without fear of failure and simply step back for a moment to reconnect. What better time to slow down than during the Summer?

Feel free to join in if you want to. No pressure whatsoever. Leave a comment here or tag me on instagram and use the hashtag #slowsummercreativity.

 

Perfectionism often gets in the way for my own creative process. I get stuck in that awkward first draft, sweating over questions I can’t know the answer to: Is it good enough? What will others think? Is it a dead end? Am I spending my time efficiently? Is this the best way, the best place to start?

In all that worry and the attempt to control the outcome I forget that it is in that space of uncertain exploration that good things occur. Not always and not predictably, but often.

While I was finishing up my Master’s thesis in Philosophy I would sometimes struggle with a paragraph all day, tense with the stress of producing rigorous thought under time pressure. Once I lay my head on my pillow at night and drifted towards sleep, suddenly I would compose a whole page and a chapter in an instant. As easy as that.

That is the wonderful and frustrating thing about creative flow. It’s playful. It’s hard to predict. Creativity is creating. It’s as simple as that, really. But it doesn’t always feel that simple because you also want to create something beautiful and useful and innovative and fresh. That’s where the expectations, hopes and fears come in, and all the perfectionist stuff that gets in the way.

Playing is doing something for the sheer enjoyment of it. It’s driven by curiosity, interest, exploration, wonder, dreams and longings. Playing doesn’t demand a perfect end result because playing is to be caught in the process.

However, if you are a perfectionist, like me, playing can be a little scary. The awkward first draft is, you know, pretty awkward. Yet, you have to start somewhere. The awkward first draft is precisely that: a starting point, not the best, not the only possible, but simply a place to start. And it’s a draft! You can always scrap it and try something else.

In a way, being playful is being generous with your own time. It’s letting go of the attempt to create in the best possible way and instead letting yourself create, full stop. Maybe you can’t control when the ideas come or what your ideas will bring, just in what space you will listen to them and how you pursue them.

On the third week of the Slow Summer Creativity series I’ll be taking lessons from the three-year-old on how to play. What will I do? I have absolutely no idea. I’ll be unproductively pursuing dead ends and inefficiently fooling about. Hopefully having a good time. Who knows. It won’t be perfect, that’s for sure.

Play along too if you feel like it!

 

You can find the other posts in this series here: Slow Summer Creativity: Letting go, Slow Summer Creativity: Indulge, Slow Summer Creativity: Make it yours.