If you’re a writer and a parent (I am) you probably schedule or once scheduled many playdates for your children. But when was the last time you booked one for yourself?

I’m not talking about hanging out with your friends, (although you could include them in this adventure) I’m talking about a creativity playdate. This is time you set aside for yourself to do something that fills your well of inspiration. A creativity playdate can be simple and close to home—sitting in your favorite chair perusing gorgeous coffee table books. Or it could be a mini field trip that gets you out of the office and into a new environment: a trip to a museum or a public garden which would be ideal now because spring bulbs will soon bloom. It could even be a big trip: My recent Vermont College of Fine Arts study abroad residency in Puerto Rico was basically a huge creativity playdate with my fellow writing students.

Creativity playdates are just as important as the time you schedule for writing. In fact, your writing time can be difficult and fruitless without them. If you find you spend much of your writing time staring wordless at the screen or blank page, you’re in need of a creativity playdate. Looking for a story idea? Ride the subway a few stops or go sit in a park and pay attention. Your next character might step on at West 66th Street, or stroll past you wearing a top hat and walking a fluffy Scottish terrier sporting blue booties on its paws. I know my writing eye is awakened every time I travel the sixty-five miles south to New York City and take in the energy and movement of a different environment. Suddenly my senses have new sights, sounds, and smells to process. It’s exciting.

One of my other creative activities is to watch the television show “Project Runway,” because I like seeing a different kind of artist—in this case fashion designers—exercising his or her own brand of creativity. I also color in coloring books (my Harry Potter one is my favorite), visit museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City or the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut, and tour the homes of famous artists/designers/writers. I love Philip Johnson’s Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut, and I recently learned that part of the chateau home of the essayist Montaigne is open to the public in Dordogne Village in France. I would love to see his office/library and view the exposed beams in the tower where Montaigne engraved some of his thoughts, including his famous question, “'Que sais-je?” (“What do I know?”).

On my latest playdate I explored the Architectural Digest Home Design Show in New York City. It included art installations as well as design ideas and new home appliances and products. A bed of green apples caught my eye and sparked my imagination, as did a bizarre seating bench covered in tube-like purple velvet cushions entwined again and again. Mysterious and erotic!

I encourage you to schedule a creativity playdate at least once a month. If you can’t think of something to do, consider this—you want to excite your five senses. Try to come up with ideas addressing each one. For example:

  • Smell: Explore perfume or incense shops; check out a store where you can sniff barrels of coffee beans, visit a florist.
  • Touch: Go to high-end stores or fabric shops where you can run your hands over rich materials or beautiful furniture. Take a cue from your childhood and visit a petting zoo or an aquarium that features touch tanks of specimens to hold.
  • Sight: Feast your eyes on works of art, or go on hikes to see spectacular views.
  • Sound: Attend concerts, plays, musicals, or sit in a place with lots of people where you can pick up pieces of overheard conversation.
  • Taste: Try a new cuisine by cooking a recipe you’ve never tried before or going to a different restaurant.

Really, you could do anything you want for your creativity playdate as long as you don’t forget to have fun! Let me know what you do or would like to do for your creative adventures. I might be in the market for a new idea this month. Thanks in advance!

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Tags: Architectural, Art, Arts, Bruce, College, Digest, Fine, Glass, House, Johnson, More…MFA, Metropolitan, Montaigne, Museum, Philip, Project, Puerto, Rico, Runway, Scott, Sophfronia, VCFA, Vermont, creative, creativity, life, of, residency, writing

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Comment by E. P. Matthews on May 6, 2014 at 5:07am

Thanks for a great article, just when I needed it!  What a great idea to "schedule" a playdate, not try to shoehorn it in between everything else.   When I'm feeling creatively "flat" in my writing, I try my hand at another creative outlet - I'll pull out my sewing machine or do some gardening.  In my area there are lots of beginner classes you can take for one evening - cooking, ceramics, ballroom dance, voice acting.  I've also taken a free online drawing class - I'm sure there are other online classes as well.  The problem, of course, is remembering to go look for them, instead of just staring at the blanks page in front of you ...

Comment by Kamy Wicoff on May 5, 2014 at 10:55am

I love this Sophfronia!!

Comment by Sophfronia Scott on May 5, 2014 at 5:58am

You're welcome Mayu! Let me know what you come up with. 

Comment by Mayu Molina Lehmann on May 3, 2014 at 1:35pm

What a wonderful idea! I will start planning mine. 

Thanks for sharing!

Mayu

Comment by Sophfronia Scott on May 2, 2014 at 6:07am

Jeanne I don't think that's boring, it's pretty adventurous! Physical challenges can open our minds in wonderful ways. Now you've got me thinking about changing up my fitness routine. Thanks!

Comment by Jeanne Nicholas on May 1, 2014 at 9:02pm

Maybe I'm a little boring but, I actually try new things at the gym.  I have tried the TRX system, Yoga, Spin Class, Free weights, Karate, circuit machines, treadmill, stair stepper, monkey bars and rings, rock wall climbing, fencing, volleyball, tennis, swimming, racquet ball, elliptical, rowing machines, kettle balls and so much more.  I only work out about 45 minutes each day but I work out every day and always try something different when I have sufficient knowledge of the current item. During the entire workout I'm listening to music.  I believe this habitat touches all five senses.  Smelly, touch, wowza sight, awesome sound, and I enjoy the sweet taste of accomplishment every day.

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