“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” ~ Pablo Picasso

I so enjoyed doing this interview with my daughter (she had a blast with it, too!). First, I got to dress up as a princess – and that’s always fun. Second, I got to spend some time talking deeply with my daughter about something that she’s passionate about. And third, and best of all – I learned something from her. She helped me see a few things about creative wellness in a new light, and that’s always an amazing experience.

Achieving Creative Wellness Through Imaginative Play

My daughter and I talked a lot about what play means to her as a kid. But we stumbled onto something that really applies to adults and creative wellness. When we exercise, we exercise to build muscle. When we study or go to school, we do so to build a strong brain. But how do we build creative muscle?

Strength is defined as the quality or state of being strong; a capacity for exertion or endurance.

Endurance is something that is required when living a creative life. Your art is rarely going to fall out of you with little to no effort. Instead, it usually falls out in a giant mess, and it requires endurance to turn that mess into what we know it can be. Sometimes that process is hard and long and takes a lot out of us. And we need to build strong creative muscles to resist the forces that exist to push against our creativity.

Imaginative play is one of the best ways to build creative muscle. Think about how you used to play when you were a child, before you worried about other people watching you. A leaf could become a boat, a parachute, a roof for a fairy house, an umbrella for a gnome. You could pretend that if you jumped high enough, the wind would catch you and you’d fly. Animals could talk and unicorns were real.

Whistle While You Create

Are you having fun while you are creating? Or has it started to feel more like work? So often, we get caught up in deadlines, the need to turn out a product, to be productive, that we forget that we’re supposed to be having fun. Our creative work is supposed to be fun. We are allowed to have fun with it and to find joy in the creative process.

When is the last time you just had fun with your creativity?

Take a Play Break

If it’s been a while, if you’re feeling burned out or if you’ve lost your joy, it’s time for a play break. Color, paint, skip around the house, dance like no one’s watching, go jump in puddles, dig in the dirt, sing at the top of your lungs. Take a stand for your creativity and play.

Our work is seriously important. The world needs our art. But we shouldn’t suffer to create it.

“At the deepest level, the creative process and the healing process arise from a single source. When you are an artist, you are a healer; a wordless trust of the same mystery is the foundation of your work and its integrity.” ~ Rachel Naomi Remen, MD

What are your thoughts on building creative muscles through play? When is the last time you played with the abandon of a kid? Could you find five minutes a day for a play break? Even one minute of skipping or dancing or coloring can be beneficial!