Deep Play.


This is me (and that’s my dog, Basil). I’m an only child, and when I was little, I spent a lot of time in solitude. I didn’t mind. I read Harriet the Spy and Nancy Drew. I had a notebook, and I used it.

When I look at this picture now, I can relate to this kid. I recognize the zone I’m in: this is me in a state of deep play.

Check out my furrowed brow and the intensity of my gaze. If you’re a writer, you might recognize the look on my face. Deep play isn’t always fun and easy.

In deep play, fascination meets challenge. The activity is just difficult enough to keep you focused, but at the same time, it’s tantalizing enough to bring you delight.

Deep play gives meaning, depth, and texture to our lives. Writers get there by writing. This is how we want to feel. This is what we’re yearning for.

We want to access that state of concentration and joy, the experience of freedom and “lost time.”

We don’t always make time for deep play, as responsible adults.

If you’re a writer but you’re finding it difficult to make time for deep play, go find a picture of yourself when you were little.

Look how cute you are! Now, consider what you would want for this kid. Would you make time for her to scribble in her notebook, if you knew she would get lost in concentration and joy and lose all sense of time?

Yeah, you would. And the great news is, it’s not too late. You can give yourself that now.

May you find joy in the furrow your brow,

Introducing the 2019 Little Bird Contest winners.


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