Writing and Creativity

My husband and I have been reading and talking about creativity a lot this year. We are both exploring our creativity, sometimes in very different ways, but sometimes in very similar ways.

We are both thinking and talking about creative ways to motivate people to change their beliefs and behaviors. I do this as a life coach; he does it as Chief Medical Officer of an organization.

He’s also exploring his creativity as an amateur nature photographer—he just returned from a trip to Costa Rica and Panama where he took some amazing pictures and experimented with different techniques.

unfinished watercolorunfinished drawing with watercolorI’ve been exploring my creativity through writing, of course. I’ve also been exploring my creativity through improvisational theater and through drawing and playing, just a little bit, with watercolors.

This morning my son and I drove to school and he started singing The 12 Days of Christmas. We figured out days 1-11, although I don’t think “11 Bagpipers Piping” is exactly right, but we couldn’t remember what day 12 was.

“Let’s just make it up,” my son said.

Since we were driving, I said, “How about 12 cars a-zooming?”

“No, that’s not right. Let’s do ’12 chocolate candies.’” (If you make chocolate sound like a 2-syllable word, it works.)

So, on the 12th day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me, 12 chocolate candies. What could be better than that?

The more creative I am in my daily life, the more creativity I bring to the page.

This has not been an easy lesson for me to learn. I grew up, as many of you did, with Depression-era parents who valued hard work and getting ahead. Play was not valued once childhood was gone. I’ve worked hard all my life.

Now that I’m playing more, I’m not getting less done. I think I’m actually getting more done. I produce more, even though I spend less time “working hard,” and more time “playing hard.”

As I’ve really experienced this in my life over the past year, it’s been easier to let go of my beliefs about hard work as the only way to get ahead. I’ve also researched play, as I’ve mentioned before, which added weight to my new belief that play is the way to get things done.

So, if you are a writer (and I know you are!) think about how you used to like to play when you were a kid. Probably you liked to play with words (my siblings and I used to put on plays for each other and my parents) but there are many other ways to play, from hiking to hopscotch, from playing the violin to playing Blackjack. Pick one or two and go with it for a while, just to see what happens.

I think you’ll be surprised how much play can add to your writing life, not to mention life in general.

Let me know what happens in the comments.

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon, MD: is a writer, blogger, master life coach, runner, improviser, and, last but not least, a mom. Each role requires creativity–the more creativity I bring to each part of my life, the more fun I have!

12 thoughts on “Writing and Creativity

  1. Thanks for interesting blog. I agree wholeheartedly. Creativity is in itself an amazing gift and I believe it also needs quiet, space and ‘time out’ to truly express itself. The work ethic (wonderful and a character trait to be applauded) should never be allowed to take from our lives the time and space necessary to be creative. What people can do for others when they take time to be less ‘doing’ and more ‘being’ people can be astonishing. Also volume of creativity (particularly writing) increases not decreases. My life where prayer is also incorporated brings its own layer to the creative mix. Live Life to the fullest. Learn to live abundantly when you are not ‘actively working’. Cheers!

  2. LOVE this piece, Diane! Congratulations to you and your family for making play and creativity such a *deliberate* part of your lives. Although it sounds oxymoronic, in my own life I’m finding that creativity (and its cousin curiosity) flourish when I set aside structured time each day for drawing, journaling, taking photos … whatever. And you’re right: The more we feed creativity in all parts of our lives, the more abundant it seems to become! So, thank you for this inspiring “call to action.”

  3. What an interesting and insightful post. Lots to think about. Think I need to make time to play more with my kids and my dog. Unleash my creativity. Thanks

  4. Wonderful post! As hmunro stated above, this really is a call to action. I often feel guilty if I’m not sitting in front of my computer, even on days when I struggle to find words. It has never dawned on me to search for inspiration in play, but it makes absolute sense on every level. This post brought back so many memories of having an over-active imagination when I was a child. As a writer, I want that back! Thank you so, so much for sharing.

  5. We all need to keep a firm hold on to a thread of our youth, I know I do and I can be as mad as a box of frogs sometimes. As I age my fear of “what the neighbours, friends or people may say” diminishes and that real me arrives inhibition free.

  6. This was a great post! My husband and I are both creative people. He loves to perform and speak while I’m more of an introverted writer. We too have noticed that when we are stifled in our creativity we are less productive overall and also less happy. We all have talents and abilities for a reason. They help us to enjoy life and see the world anew each time we create. I really appreciated this post.

  7. I never realized the importance of play until having kids of my own. Through crafts, writing, reading and games, they’ve learned more than they have from anything I could teach them. Creative play makes them thrive.

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