Play and Creative Practice: 5 Ideas to Bring Back the Fun

Just this last week I posed a question about play in our Facebook Group The Creative Fire Cafe. I asked the members to share their favourite activity as a kid. Reading the answers felt like a walk down memory lane and there was a lot of “Me, too!” going on.  I believe play is one of the most important ingredient in my creative practice. Without it, I get too serious and then all kinds of creative obstacles rear their heads. Things like judgement and perfectionism. It’s not long before I’m stalled and finding ways to stay out of the Studio.

Play is one of the most important ingredients of a #creative practice. It stops perfectionism and judgement. Click To Tweet

Which puts me in the weird place many of us creative types find ourselves — passionate about our art while running away from it at the same time. SO here are 5 ideas for keeping a sense of play in your creative life.

play with ladybug rocks1. Paint rocks (or shells or leaves or…)

One of the things I find many of us have in common is a fear of ruining something ‘precious’, even when it’s just paper. So let’s remove that from the equation, shall we?

Take a walk and collect smooth rocks. The shoreline here is covered with them but if they’re hard to find in your area, pick up a bag at the dollar store. I’ve even seen this done on leaves, so let your imagination go. No rules.

Grab some inexpensive craft acrylic paints and markers in all your favourite colours and have some fun. If you need ideas, check out Pinterest. Search on Painted Rocks and you’ll find all sorts of ways to decorate your rocks. Scatter them around your studio and in your garden.

Here’s a YouTube video with directions for LadyBug Rocks.

2. Create Inspiration Ribbons or Prayer Flags

Prayer FlagsGet some wide pieces of ribbon or strips of cloth. Write wishes and inspiring words on them with markers. If you have the skills you could even embroider these.

Zig-zag stitch or tie them to a longer ribbon or string and secure them across a window or doorway in your creative space. Bonus points if there’s a breeze to help them flutter.

Lots of ideas here at The Prayer Flag Project.


zen play3. Create a Zen Garden to play with on your work table or desk.

Get a small box top or even an Altoid tin like this one I found on Pinterest. Fill it with fine sand. Use a fork to create patterns. Decorate your garden with tiny pebbles. You might even find some tiny figurines. (Or make your own from Fimo.)

Love this portable Zen Garden!


4. Get a kid’s colouring book and some crayons

I know there are great colouring books available for adults but we want to inspire playfulness. Keep the images simple. And there’s nothing quite like a box of 64 Crayola Crayons to tap into your childhood memories of play.

And speaking of childhood memories…

5. Build a tent fort

We all need to block out the rest of the world some days. That’s why kids love tent forts. It’s their private retreat. Why not build your own temporary shelter right in your studio or even outdoors.

Gather some snacks, take your journal or sketchbook inside and take your own trip down memory lane.

Who care what the neighbours think?

Possibility DiceAll this talk of play inspired me to create my own Game of Creative Chance. You can download my Possibility Dice and see where they take you. Will you “Create BIG” or perhaps “Play Wildly”. Every roll of the dice suggests a new possibility. Have fun!

The Possibility Game

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