#productivewriter 6 – write like a child plays


Writing into the Dream – a six-week experiment in becoming a more productive writer

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Previous weeks:

Week 1:  Write every day. Write something. Every day.

Week 2:  Encourage your writing self.

Week 3: Schedule your writing.

Week 4:  Write a letter to your writing.

Week 5:  Write early in the day.


Writing into the dream.  What is your dream? Do you imagine writing a novel?  Writing a book of poems?  A musical?  Perhaps you draw or take photographs.  What would your work look like if it was your dream work?

I recently had a chance to hear a design expert speak, someone who is well-established in the world of design and of “branding.”  These days everyone is talking about “creating your own brand” (in writing they call it “having a platform”).  This is where you develop a following on your blog, on social media, though a subscription newsletter, etc.  The idea is that you make a name for yourself so that others will follow and support your work (perhaps monentarily).

Here is what the design expert said about branding:  “Build a body of work – not a brand.”  She said: it takes a body of work to define who you are as an artist or designer.  Write, write, write (or draw! or take photos!) – and after a number of years, you will have developed a body of work that expresses your voice – not a generic “brand,” but who you are and why your work is distinctive and enjoyable for others to see/read/look at.

What is your dream?  Now that we have been writing every day, encouraging our writing, scheduling writing time and perhaps writing earlier in the day, and we have listened to our writing and what it wants to be – let’s go bigger.  What is your DREAM for your writing (or drawing, or photographs) and what would it look like?  Let yourself go big.  This is your imagination at work!

What I learned this week

Well, I admit I was skeptical about last week’s strategy – write early in the day.  I know that morning is my time of highly productive energy.  So, when I want to tackle a new organizing project, or take care of a must-do task, it goes faster in the morning, rather than later in the day.

My concern was, if I dedicate morning time to writing, then I’ll lose the opportunity to take care of those “must-dos” – they’ll drag out – when I get to them later in the day.  But I found that I could set aside some time for writing first thing in the morning (usually about 90 minutes, sometimes longer) – and enjoy it! – and also have some leftover time for other tasks, if desired.

There is room for flexibility in this – you may not write well in the morning.  When I was writing my third novel (years ago), I wrote in the evening, after all the day’s tasks were done.  I felt much less pressure to “write well” at the end of the day, and I was more productive.  If I had morning time to spend on writing tasks, I would do research during that time instead.

How about you?  Did you try writing earlier in the day?  Did you discover anything new about yourself and your writing this week?  Perhaps you felt more productive … or perhaps you felt more pressured and less productive.  What worked for you?

Productive Writer Strategy No. 6 – Write like a child plays.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Most creative people, and most people generally, remember their childhoods as a time when they threw themselves unself-consciously and wholeheartedly into all manner of creative efforts:  drawing, storytelling, modeling in clay, whatever came to hand.  Most important, they experienced no resistance to their play – only the intense, uncritical, unalloyed, and ineffable pleasure of the homo faber [the human being as creator]. (From On Writing, by Victoria Nelson)

This is the final strategy of our six-week experiment into being a more productive writer.  You’ve structured your time, dedicated yourself to your writing, but you’ve also been kind to yourself as a writer, and asked your writing what it wants to be.  This week, think back to when you were a child.  What did it feel like to play make-believe, to play cards or Monopoly, to build with construction toys or to make something out of clay?  Were you thinking about your “market” back then?  (Of course not!)  Did you worry about having an audience?  (Not at all!)

I would like to invite you to join me in creative play this week.  Every day when you write, try to remember the mood of play from when you were a child.  Try to do at least one thing in your writing that isn’t part of a project, that is not a chapter, a story for publication, or a poem that’s part of your new poetic series . . . instead, do an exercise, or free-write from a line of poetry or an illustration that captures your attention.  Or something else playful!  Pay attention to things around you that make you excited about your creativity.  Try using those in your daily writing.

Next week’s #productivewriter blog post

We will wrap things up in this experiment next week.  Think about your dream, and I’ll think about mine, in the coming week.  Let’s compare notes!

Share your thoughts!

We are in this together!  Feel free to add a reply-comment about how your week went – what you learned, how you felt.  Are you feeling more productive?  Do you feel any closer to reaching your dream?  What has changed from when we started in Week 1? ‎

As always, I wish you the gift of finding your own voice, and of enjoying your own creative expression.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Photo by Theresa Barker.

#productivewriter 1 | #productivewriter 2 | #productivewriter 3 | #productivewriter 4 | #productivewriter5

16 thoughts on “#productivewriter 6 – write like a child plays

  1. This past week was a challenge work wise, as more than usual, the rest of my life responsibilities were forcing their way in. It can be quite a tension and it means that I start this week a bit behind I feel like. So, the idea of “play” for this week seems like a tough one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah. I see what you mean. Hmmm, I think the impetus behind this was to try not to be as goal-focused as we sometimes are, once we start to be artists. I feel as though you already approach your photography from a “let’s see what happens” standpoint, so maybe you’re good already? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hmm. I’m a list maker, too, Amy, and I felt a chord strike in me in reading your comment. Hmm. Thank you for mentioning this! When I was a kid I remember doing a bunch of make-believe with my (younger) sister after school. We’d play school (ironically), or we’d make up little skits where I was the mom and she was the child. We also used to play “horses” with the neighborhood kids where we would all be wild horses roaming around each others’ yards. That was all before age 12. It got harder as I got older to “play” in the same way. That’s very interesting. I’ll have to think about it more! 🙂 Have a great day!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. creative play — make believe – vital skills to enhancing the mind – imagination is key if we hope to innovate and push the frontier of what has been.. let loose… it may spring up… when you don’t force it …

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  3. I can see this being both challenging and enlightening. I often reflect on childhood dreams and memories, but translating those thoughts and feelings into words could be very tricky. This has been such a fascinating exercise Theresa. I am tucking all of these nuggets away in case I ever get seriously bitten by the writing bug. 🙂

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    1. Yes, you have a good point there, Tami. I have had the struggle of trying to translate childhood memories and dreams into words. It’s hard! On the topic of memoir or personal stories, I often feel inadequate when I try to write a personal (nonfiction) story rather than fiction. I get stuck, I re-write, I think, “oh, how can this be so dull?”, etc. But, I’m interested in learning more about how to do it better, so this summer (next month), I’m taking a five-day course in nonfiction writing – memoir, personal story, etc. I’ll have to tell you how it goes! :). Thank you for commenting!

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  4. Despite my age, job and being a mother, I struggle with being a grown up. I still can’t believe I’m 45. Only the lack of the energy I used to have, my more lethargic self, reminds me I’m older. Still, it doesn’t mean I’m grown up. Haha. I wanted to grow up properly last year. I didn’t do so well. I do write like a child especially things that I don’t publish. Some of them though get re-worked for public consumption. I have quips that I mostly don’t share thinking others will roll their eyes. Children don’t care. I still write for me. I’m trying out new things, like fantasy, and despite having lost my romantic self along the way, I know Romance has always been my Genre. I’m going back to my WIPs. I think my writing is pretty much me. What do you think? As I read your works, I see/read your “brand” in them, I think. Like with Ronel’s work. Maybe we’ve been writing too long “we” are in our writing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh! Anne, what a wonderful compliment that you think my writing is recognizable! you made my week! Yes, I think your writing is also recognizable – it’s your imagination and your warmth – even in the fiction – that mark your writing. Thank you, my friend! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My pleasure. ☺ You really are doing a fantastic job with your “brand”. I think it’s because you write for the love of writing and you write first for you then for others. And when we write for us, we write what we love and we shine through our writing. I hope I get better at it. We just keep at it, right? Our masterpieces are still coming. ☺💖🤗

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      2. Oh my gosh! I am so honored by your lovely observations, Anne. I do write for myself, mostly, though I also revel in having lovely readers who are so kind and generous with comments. I feel I can write for them, that is, I feel a connection and look forward to sharing my writing with them. Like you, my friend! 🙂

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