In Their Own Words - Creators Must Play!

Submitted by Penni Holdham, CSEP

Carl Jung says it well... “The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect - but by the play instinct arising from inner necessity.”

A human being is wired to play. This is a well-documented component of childhood development.  Play builds physical, emotional, cognitive and intuitive attributes and is as elemental as shelter, sustenance and clothing.  The benefits of play continue into adult and senior life.  The values realized through active play serve the unique human ability to create and innovate.

Play is defined as ‘self-chosen, self-directed’ activity.  Creators are naturally drawn to play.  Play revs up the creative engine; fires up the senses; and, fuels the drive to create.

Society’s attitudes toward play changes between childhood and adulthood.  Often ‘play’ in adulthood is rated as a waste of time, an escape, or form of avoidance rather than an essential aspect of healthy living.   While unfortunate, it is understandable when there is less available time to be playful when immersed in the everyday adult life - as parent, provider, care-giver, leader, employer, and so on.

Artists are lucky if they can maintain their adult commitments and sustain their creative play.  Carving out playtime in a busy schedule of priorities often means this time is unintentionally sacrificed.  When adults do find time to play, they often describe their play activity as puttering, dabbling, playing around, experimenting or exploring.  The reference to play by no means undermines the talent, skills and spirit a creator brings to their work.

Many creators who are fortunate to earn a living from their creations are heard to say: “I can’t believe I get paid to have so much fun!” For some creators, the line between work and play can become very fuzzy.

Throughout society there is a growing trend to play-based learning and experiential engagement. People want to feel it, be it, do it.  This need to engage is often achieved through various forms of creative play.  Many a musician, painter or dancer has been inspired to pursue their creative drive through introduction to the arts at school.

The manufacturing world recognizes a shortage of sector innovation. Many are integrating employee ‘playtime’ into the workday.  This free playtime, similar to public school recess, is delivering results in reduced stress, increased teamwork and refreshed creativity in the workforce.

Retirement provides reclaimed time and emotional space for the creative instinct to become reignited.  Freedom to play in ‘seniorhood’ among the rapidly growing retired population is fostering a thriving creative economy.  Seniors are at the forefront of this engagement as they come back to the concept of play and self-driven activity.  Many are re-discovering their creative voice and remembering the joy this human yearning to play delivers.

There is no question that free-play and the freedom of expression is liberating and great for the mind and attitude. These foundations of play are the fuel for creative inspiration and innovation.