I grabbed another ball, started a full sprint, and launched a shot at the goal. Then I jogged back in front of the lacrosse cage and did it again. And again. And again. Until I was gasping for air and had to sit down for a break. The process had become a game. A game where reps were the goal, not perfect shots or accolades. Without the shine of the field's lights or roar of the fans, it was just me, trying to get better.
And the crazy part was, I was having so much fun it didn't seem like work. When I began writing this blog back in earnest in early 2021, I started out having fun. But then after writing what I thought was a good piece, I told myself I had to write one just like it, and spend even more time on the next piece to hit the same arbitrary bar of quality I established in my head.
What started as an hour or two turned into 10+ hours on a single piece. Because I knew I would have to devote all my week's free time to publish one post, I didn't even want to start climbing that mental mountain.
So instead of seeing it as a burden, I want to see writing as an opportunity to play.
John Cleese, one of the writers of Monty Python, referenced a study of architectural creativity in his book, "Creativity: A Short and Cheerful Guide." The study showed that a characteristic of the most creative architects was that they knew how to play with their work, or be "enjoyably absorbed in a puzzle."
I want to see the writing process as an opportunity for play, not punishment. So that I can have fun reaching my process goal of writing more frequently and ignoring the outcome goal of only publishing perfectly thought out arguments. I know that my future writing skill is proportional to the number of words written, not just the number of perfect pieces published.
So here's to writing more. To having fun with the writing process. And to the idea that what I was practicing with my lacrosse shot all those years ago wasn't just how to score a certain number of goals, but how to lovingly play with the process of getting there.
What opportunities do you see in your life to play, rather than go through the motions? Let me know in the comments below.