An invitation to play

Open up an imaginary bag in front of you. Just for a while, put into it your judgement and self-criticism; the mental to-do list you’re continually adding to; your ticking inner clock; your need to be right and sensible and useful. Add anything else that feels heavy. Then zip up the invisible bag and put it to one side.

Grab a pen – any pen – and paper, nothing fancy.

Lie down on your belly on the floor, pen in hand and paper in front of you. Kicking your heels in the air is optional, but it helps release the child inside.

(I appreciate that getting down to floor level may not be as easy as it once was, but there are alternatives: sitting on a beanbag; curling up in a corner of the sofa; even sitting on a cushion and leaning against the wall. But do try the floor if you possibly can. Your child-mind will respond.)

Write.

Write words you like; write a story about goblins and fairies; write something that makes you laugh; write a poem where the first letter of every line spells your favourite rude word. It doesn’t matter what you write. It only matters that you do it. It’s not work, it’s play.

Enjoy your playing, and when you’ve finished, go and bake chocolate chip fairy cakes.

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Playing

We can all get a bit too serious about our writing sometimes.  Especially me, with my introspection and my close-up views of everyday life. (Although I’m not sure I agree with Socrates that “An unexamined life is not worth living” – but there I go again, getting all serious.  And giving you the impression that I’ve read the works of Socrates.  I haven’t; it’s one of those quotes I picked up along life’s merry way and then merrily disagreed with.)

The digression illustrates my point, though.  Getting too serious makes life – and writing – a bit dull, frankly.  Here’s a much more cheerful quote which I’ve just come across in Chop Wood Carry Water.  (I know I mentioned this book last time.  I still haven’t actually read it; opening it randomly is working for me at the moment!)

Laughter is tremendously healthy.  Playfulness is as sacred as any prayer, or maybe more sacred than any prayer, because playfulness, laughter, singing, dancing will relax you.  And the truth is only possible in a relaxed state of being.

And isn’t writing all about showing the truth?