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Would You Rather Plan or Play?

If I followed the advice of experts on productivity and getting results, I would be more consistent. I would follow a regimented schedule, show up at the same time every day, every week, every year, and draw explicit connections between each of my projects and activities. Doing this given the complexity and breadth of my work would require meticulous planning – something that I’m good at (or so people tell me), but somehow feel resistance to as a writer/creative.

Too much planning can be toxic, especially for creative workers. We need to be able to feel and respond in the moment and get absorbed in the continual processes of transformation within and around us. Discontinuities and unexpected events present an opportunity for exploration and experimentation. We can also benefit from trying out new ideas, representations, or processes in community with others to add depth and complexity to our understanding.

Taking a playful approach to our work doesn’t mean that we don’t take it seriously. It means that we care enough about the work we do to give it the space it needs to blossom. We don’t need to choose between planning and playing – we can and should do both. They are complementary. Planning can add some structure to our play so that we are able to more easily share what we learn with others, while play can add dimension and relevance to our planning.

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