When we think of wanting to become more creative, we tend to think of inspiration as the “X” factor.
And while I think we can all agree that feeling inspired really does influence our creativity, it’s through play that our creativity can truly expand and thrive.
As adults play can easily become an afterthought amongst our business, relationship, and personal ambitions. Collectively we tend to view it as something mostly associated with children or something that we participate in only after we’ve finished our work and checked off our to-do list.
But you don’t have to save play for weekends or when you’re on vacation, you can bring a playful approach and energy to your business, day-to-day life, and to the many ways you get creative.
Playing your way to more creativity (and enjoyment)
You’ve likely noticed the contrast between trying to brainstorm marketing campaign ideas or ways of talking about your offerings from a place of pressure, and trying to get it right. Versus taking a playful approach and allowing yourself to have fun with the process and experiment with different exercises and ways of thinking.
When we give ourselves the space to play, we become more curious, optimistic, imaginative and relaxed. Play has a way of helping us relieve stress and face the fears and doubts that get in the way of us being creative.
Play is one of the ultimate antidotes to helping us past a creative block – allowing us to embrace the unknown when we’re feeling uncertain and opening us up to new possibilities.
Through play we can access a different kind of confidence – a kind that’s not necessarily rooted in knowing or guaranteeing the outcome, rather it’s a confidence that comes from being willing to experience, and learn new things and enjoy ourselves.
So how do we use play to get these amazing benefits and expand our creativity?
We begin by exploring our relationship with play on a personal level and experimenting with being playful in different ways. We get curious about the stories, experiences, and environments that may be getting in the way of us being playful and accessing our creativity.
And we continue to look for ways to bring a playful approach into our creativity, business and every day – seeing it as a lifelong practice, a habit, and a way of being.
Integrating & getting in the mood to play
While the ways you can integrate play are truly endless, let’s look at 3 simple & practical approaches to bringing more playfulness into your creative work and just for fun projects:
If you’ve played or watched any team sport, are a runner, or like to sweat it out in the gym then you’ll know from experience the importance of getting yourself warmed up – from a physiological, mental, and performance perspective.
Spending time doing activities that feel playful to you is one way you can “warm up” your imagination, begin to think creatively, and energize yourself.
This can be as simple as integrating a 10-15 minute warm-up prior to creative tasks like brainstorming and writing marketing content, hosting a workshop that feels out of your comfort zone, or before you reach for that paintbrush and face the blank canvas.
Think about the activities that could serve as your warm-up. Maybe it’s throwing on music and dancing it out in your kitchen, grabbing some markers and drawing in your notebook, or going through your closet and playing dress up.
We can also practice integrating playfulness by applying it as a mindset. This looks like thinking about a task you’re working on, a problem you’re wanting to solve, or perhaps a piece of art you want to make and asking yourself questions like….
How would I approach this if I was being playful?
If this was a game, what might be the most FUN way to play? What are all the different strategies I could try?
How might I move past this block/challenge if I were being playful?
Using play as a mindset means we can tap into our imaginations and transform tasks that might feel boring or even intimidating into a novel and fun experience.
Alternatively, you can experiment with picturing someone you know who is really playful, maybe it’s your niece, son, or dog, or a TV character like Jess from New Girl. Think about how they, with all their playful energy, might start creating or approaching a project you’re working on.
You’re never too old for recess right?! Setting aside time for planned and spontaneous play is so essential not only so our creativity can thrive, but so our whole self and well-being can thrive too.
“Adults who are more playful report feeling less stress, being better able to cope with stress and having greater life satisfaction and other positive life outcomes.” – from the book Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind by Scott Barry Kaufman & Carolyn Gregoire
This approach to integrating play can be done through making art like painting or drawing just for fun or through movement, like practicing doing cartwheels in your backyard or going to the park and playing on the swings. It can be done by using our imaginations by daydreaming or listening to visualizations.
Get curious about the ways you used to play when you were younger. See if you can pull inspiration from that and incorporate it into your creative playtime now.
For example, maybe you used to play make-believe restaurant when you were younger and now you could play by imagining you have a restaurant and the types of dishes you’d have on the menu OR you could play in the kitchen by inventing your own signature dish.
Go around your house and look for games, craft,s and art supplies you already have, and see what you feel inspired to create with them. And don’t forget recess is more fun with friends – invite your mom over for a collage-making session or spend the afternoon with your business BFF playing I Spy in your backyard in between talking about your dreams and vision for your business.The good news is that you don’t have to perfect the skill of being playful to experience its benefits and spark your creativity. And the even better news is you already know how to be playful. It’s an instinct, biologically hardwired in you.
It’s a matter of being willing to put it into practice.
Now I’m tossing the confetti and paintbrush over to you. I’ll leave you with a few reflection questions to answer and a resource I think you’re going to love, so you can bring a playful attitude and energy into whatever you’re creating next.
Thinking of the current season of life and business you’re in, what kind of play and creativity do you need/want?
Taking inspiration from that last question…
- How might you integrate that into your life if…
- You gave yourself 10 minutes:
- You set aside 1 hour:
- You dedicated a whole weekend to be playful and creative:
I invite you to check out Refreshed – a complimentary and self-guided retreat for feeling energized and creatively recharged.
Refreshed is here to empower you with everything you need to take yourself on a retreat so you can receive the fresh inspiration, energy + creative spark you’re after. Whether you have 1 hour set aside or a whole weekend to get creative, Refreshed was designed to get you creating and thinking in ways that are fun and playful!
Krista Kankula is a Creativity Coach and Abstract Painter. Her coaching & workshops are focused on helping people feel creatively fulfilled by making art and expressing their creativity in ways that are fun and true to who they are.
She believes that when you bring a playful approach to your creativity and life you can face the fear of “who am I to create this?” and build confidence and belief in yourself and your creative abilities – all while freeing yourself up to feel more energized, alive and filled with joy!