Play is so important to the arts. One of the groups I’m a part of focuses on accountability, brainstorming, and writing together. The other group focuses on critique. I find both groups phenomenal in their own way.
The accountability/brainstorming/writing together group has more of a sense of playfulness. No idea is in stone. At any moment someone can say, “I could use some brainstorming” and the group will find a way to do that, either setting a date and time or meeting for a virtual brainstorming session right then and there. This group is more useful to my early process, which requires an untrammeled sense of play to encourage creativity to sprout, particularly when I’m in a creative drought.
There are two kinds of play: Solo play, which I think of as puzzle-solving or self-challenges, and this is most of my writing time. Most novel writing is done alone in a room solving puzzles or challenging oneself to write a certain amount.
The other type is play with other people. I am at my most creative with other people around, so I treasure the time I spend with the people in that group. They inspire me. They force me to think through problems as I’m drafting and as a result I come up with more interesting ideas. And they pop my self-important bubble when I myself too seriously. It’s great to know that I can draft something and that it’s ok if it doesn’t work. It’s just play. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
I hope you are finding your work playful. If not, maybe it’s time for a group dedicated to brainstorming, accountability, and writing in addition to your critique group. Be well, friends!