The Importance of "Play" in Writing

Recently I've come upon the term "play" in writing circles. I first heard it referred to as such on Joanna Penn's podcast (which is amazing, and I highly recommend it if you want to keep an eye on the publishing industry, by the way), but many other authors suggest the importance of it.

So what is "play"? It's essentially when you allow yourself to be engaged with a story other than your WIP(s), and where there is no pressure to analyse or edit, just enjoy. Examples of "play" include free writing, reading, watching movies/TV shows, writing fan fic, and so on. I've come to realize how important "play" is, for my both my health, and the health of my story. So without further ado, here are three reasons why "play" is important for your writing!




1) Refreshes the Well of Inspiration

While a lot of writers talk about their 12830200000 ideas, I often find I'm the opposite. I'm not constantly struck in the face by plot bunnies, and rushing to jot them down in the middle of the night. My system is something different -- I have an idea, without much substance, and I jot it down. Then it simmers. For days, months, even years in some cases, and it comes back to me much more fleshed out. And then I get excited about it!

Recently, with such a hectic schedule, and study demands, I found myself receiving ideas and inspiration much less and less. And then I allowed myself to read a craft book, to set aside half an hour and get lost in the mechanics of writing. Not an hour later, one of my fleshed out ideas hit me like a brick, and I spent a frantic hour jotting down everything that came to mind.

Why did it decide to come then? Because as I read the book on writing, James Scott Bell's, "Just Write", I came across a list of prompts. And as I read them, I allowed myself to 'play'. I let my brain wander, to stretch my thoughts to "what ifs", and playing with concepts rewarded me with a strong, fresh one. 



2) Improves Skills

Experimenting is often the best way to learn. By giving yourself no limitations, no stress about how may times you'll have to edit this piece of work, you give your brain freedom. Freedom to try out new techniques, freedom to try new POV styles and voice, and freedom to explore differing prose choices. This is the beauty of a particular type of "play", called free writing.

James Scott Bell suggests every writer set aside a half hour, at least, every week to free write. It's meant to relax the brain, and refine your skills. A break from the WIP you've slaved over for months or years, is a chance to try new things, and invariably, improve your skills.

3) Reignites Passion

When you spend too long on something, you might find you're only working on it, for the sake of it. Occasionally I feel this way about my WIPs -- that I'm not working on them because of passion, but because I have to. Because it would be a waste of all the time I've already spent on it to give up now.

"Play"ing allows my passion to be reignited. Whenever I finish reading a book I love, I'm hit with an inexplicable thrill, clung to by various other emotions, depending on the book, but most of all the thought that "I want to make someone feel this way". Immersing myself in stories other than my own, allows me to have my passion for writing and stories, rejuvenated. It motivates me to finish my own stories, so I might cause someone else to feel swept up in and enthralled by a story.



How do you "play"? Do find reading, writing, or watching movies/TV refreshes you more? What reignites your writing passion?
Have a wonderful day, and best wishes with your writing! <3

Comments

  1. Awesome post, Melissa!! What an interesting concept!! I've been doing this for some time without realizing it :)

    Right now, all 8 of my WIPs are in that simmer stage. The plot bunnies have, mercifully, left me for the present.

    Reading and TV/movies will refresh my muse the fastest. Music and Pinterest will also get it going, especially if I'm stuck on a scene.

    Catherine
    catherinesrebellingmuse.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks Catherine!! That's great, I'm so glad you 'play' regularly!

      Oh wow that's a lot of WIPs, haha! I'm glad they're leaving you alone for the moment. xD

      Those are all great methods to refresh the muse! Though personally Pinterest just distracts me too much! xP

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  2. I've never thought about playing with writing, but now I'd love to try it. Maybe I should try that half hour a week thing. Cool post.

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    1. You should definitely try it, and let me know how it goes; hopefully it refreshes you! Thank you! :)

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  3. Amazing post, Melissa! I should free write more often. In fact, I kinda want to dip my toes in flash fiction...

    I'm exactly like you with the plot bunny thing! They don't bombard me - I
    occasionally get a tiny idea and it simmers for a long time, just like you said! :D

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    1. Thanks Lila! <3 Ooh that would be so cool! I'd love to see what you come up with.

      Oh good I'm so glad I'm not alone!! xD

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  4. Great post! I play a lot with writing then, I love jotting down snippets and other little tidbits that aren't part of the actual story.

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    1. Thanks Skye! <3 That's wonderful, I'm sure it ignites your creativity each time!

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  5. I love playing with writing, wonderful post, Melissa!

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  6. This is great! I do have a little fanfic story that I let myself write in for about ten minutes or so after I reach my editing goal for the day. I don't critique myself on that one, or worry about grammar and such. I just write what for fun. :)

    But I also like to play music. It's not quite like writing, but I'm still making up my own thing, seeing where the notes take me. That usually motivates me to get to writing, and it's also relaxing!

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    1. That's a great strategy! It's a nice reward for yourself. :)

      Oooh that's amazing! It sounds like it has multiple benefits, which is fantastic!

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  7. This is something that I've really tried to work on recently, though more along the lines of getting in some reading time and other creative endeavors. I find that it has helped refill my creative well after years of pushing myself really hard with my writing. Now, I find that if I read some books, I'll often be excited to write again.

    Journaling has helped a lot, too! I try to journal at night and recap what I've accomplished throughout the day. It helps me realize that I've actually completed things (even when I feel like I haven't) and gets me excited about the next day and what I might finish then!

    I really loved this post! It's super important for people to remember that not everything we do has to be super serious. Sometimes we need to do things simply because we love them and it makes us feel good. That's often reward enough.

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    1. I'm the same way Sarah! I've been so slack on my reading lately, that it feels good to curl up with a book and let myself refresh my creativity. I just have to make sure it doesn't cut into my writing time, haha! xD

      Oh nice, I have a journal too! I like being able to note down any writing related thing I accomplished, even if small. I'm glad to hear it helps you too!

      Aw thanks so much! <3 Absolutely, beautifully said!

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  8. This is a good discussion! Movies, TV Shows, and video games refresh me the most. ^ ^

    storitorigrace.blogspot.com

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  9. Woah, I really needed this right now. I've been working hard on my Camp NaNoWriMo WIP for the past three weeks, and it's been getting harder and harder to write these last few days. I only have so much time to write (I work a full-time job), so it's hard for me to justify taking time to "play" when I have a word goal to meet. Reading this reminded me of how important it is to step away and refresh my creativity!

    Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go play video games...

    mmusingsblog.wordpress.com

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