|By Jlbirman1 (Own work) |
[CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]
As the weather warms, it's a good time to remember an important part of the work of writing that we don't always honor: PLAY.
Earlier this month I had the great pleasure of hanging out with a bunch of artists for a week. Watching the visual artists at work was a powerful reminder that play is central to the creative process.
|The lucky participants in Vermont Artists Week, |
Vermont Studio Center, May 2017
|View from my studio window:|
the VSC's Red Mill, on the Gihon River,
But—my point about the playing:
|Artist at easel, by the river -- plein air painting|
As I visited the artists' studios and admired the art that these folks had created, I was struck to hear them all describe what they'd done at VSC as “playing.” A woman who usually works with metal had used the week to play with cloth. A sculptor who works in wood or stone was playing with clay. Someone else was experimenting with a new way to compose her collages. Another was trying out new materials and playing with new combinations of colors.
They all were having tons of fun.
|My writing studio for the week.|
(Yes, it has a view of the river)
Halfway through a week of intense work, though, my brain seized up. I was stuck on a balky manuscript. Of course, stops and starts can all be part of the writing process, but . . . I could see that those playful artists were on to something good. I started thinking about ways I could bring more play into my writing life.
Here are a few ideas I collected:
Write a poem. It could be a little ditty about anything, just for fun. A silly rhyme! A haiku! Or, you could try a poem focused on a work in progress, perhaps free verse from your main character's point of view.
|The writers' version of playing:|
a manual typewriter in the common area was
an invitation to type out random thoughts and notes
Write in a new genre. If you're a nonfiction writer, experiment with a short story. If you're a novel writer, try a first-person magazine article. Play around with it!
Play with point of view.
Consider writing a page or a chapter of your story from a different POV.
|Sculpture of branches and feathers, |
by Sabine Likhite
|Eve at Journey's End|
Of course sometimes, the working writer needs to get up out of the chair and find some fun elsewhere! How about these options?
Walk! Walking is an important part of the writing process for me. In Johnson, I enjoyed a woodsy walk to Journey's End falls with artist friend Eve Jacobs-Carnahan.
Visit your local bookstore, and read something fun! I visited (several times) the town of Johnson's outstanding local shop, Ebenezer Books. Along with a reference work for a nonfiction work-in-progress, I bought volumes of poetry and funny picture books -- that's some great play for a kids' writer!
Buy an artist (or a writer) a drink, and share some stories. Writers don't often get opportunities to compare notes with one another, and with artists, so if the chance presents itself, say yes! One of the joys of Vermont Artists’ Week was meeting so many neighbors (of both the writerly and artistic persuasions) and sharing stories of our work and our lives (and all the people we knew in common), and expanding our circles of creative colleagues. If that's not fun, what is?
So, if the grind gets you down, remember to play with your work! Try new things, notice the unexpected, and enjoy the journey. Happy writing!
|Covered bridge in the rain, Johnson.|