Writing secrets – PLAYFULNESS

You want readers to enjoy what you write, so it probably helps if you enjoy doing the writing.

If you look at children playing, they seem very absorbed in what they’re doing, but it’s light rather than serious, and they’re having fun.

I like to start writing in that spirit.

If I manage to get going in a playful way – absorbed but free to try this and that, not taking it so seriously, and having fun – it’s often the beginning of a good day’s work.

Sometimes I write well at the weekend, when things are more relaxed all around and there’s less expectation to get something done.

It’s something described better than I’ll manage by the Nigerian writer Ben Okri in a book of essays published back in 1997 called A WAY OF BEING FREE. In one of the essays, called NEWTON’S CHILD, he says:

Creativity, it would appear, should be approached in the spirit of play, of foreplay, of dalliance, doodling, messing around – and then, bit by bit, you somehow get deeper into the matter. But if you go in there with a businessman’s solemnity or the fanaticism of some artistic types you are likely to be rewarded with a stiff response, a joyless dribble, strained originality, ideas that come out all strapped up and strangled by too much effort… Do not disdain the idle, strange, ordinary, nonsensical, or shocking thoughts which the mind throws up. Hold them. Look at them. Play with them. See where they lead. 

 

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