Play vs Play

QUICK!  think of the top-three things you want to do today.  Not the things you should do, or need to do, but the things you want.  Go shopping?  Time with spouse/significant other?  Take a walk?  Read something? They’re all as valid and important as getting taxes done, paying bills, or cleaning the house.  Downtime, it amounts to that.  In regards to writing, it’s absolutely necessary too.

John Lennon once noted that he got some of his best ideas when he was just about asleep.  You know, that dozing off period where you aren’t quite up and about, nor are you snoring away?  Right there.  I’ve talked with other writers who get it then, a few musicians who get ideas and concepts from right then and/or dreams.  I’ve gotten ideas from all over, but yeah some of the best writing I’ve ever done is during that period of the night — somewhere between 2-4am I get this major idea rush, desire to write, need to put something down on paper/computer.  So, utter relaxation. I guess I could go into the studies people have done about brain relaxation and creativity, but I think you get the idea.  Interestingly enough, so do most writers:  one of the big things suggested for doing away with the dreaded writers’ block is “do something else.”  i.e.:  don’t sit there staring at Blank Page #45 for hours, thinking about how you can’t figure out what to write. 

So… relax.  Or, play.

Play isn’t always relaxing.  Lol, ask any gamer.  Or, if you know one, ask any sports player, right up through the Olympians.  How relaxing do you honestly think it is to break a leg and still dance “Swan Lake”?  Yet, they all say the same thing:  “It’s soo worth it.”  What do people get from playing?  It could be awards, accolades, self-satisfaction, pride, accomplishment, levels, comeraderie, or just fun.

…or, in the case of us writers, it can be ideas.  Trying out stuff.  Sure, if you’re on a deadline, you feel like you have to charge right through — but, that seems to work better for editing than for most regular old writing.  Those of us who do NANO in November, we’re really tricking ourselves into thinking we’re “just” writing at the time — in reality, we’re playing a kind of MMO.  It’s a race to get whatever novel we have in our heads done that we might not have done on our own.  We’re encouraging each other, we’re hashing out ideas, brainstorming, laughing at things together.  In short, we’re playing.

I recently saw a great talk by Jane Mcgonigal, a game designer, about the value of productivity through playing: 

Yep, she says it’s important too.  Up to 21 hours’ worth of importance, at least gaming, according to her.  I can at least say it’s very important stuff, both from my own experiences and from various studies and so on:  I’m currently going through a few days’ dry spell with regard to writing, so I’m on World of Warcraft a bit.  And I’ve thought of a few things, like usual, during that time; most of it gets to sit in the brain and germinate, and eventually I come out with something even better.

How do you play?

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