Today, in this week’s installment of my series dedicated to sharing some things I’ve found that help me to feel a little more comfortable when I’m having a Terrible, Horrible, Very Bad, No Good Day, I am very excited to be hosting Maryann Devine, creator of The Society of the Secret Play Date.
1. How did the idea for Secret Play Dates idea come about?
It was the weaving together of multiple threads.
One thread: I knew I needed more play in my life, more light-heartedness. I started to recognize that play could mean more than just being silly (which doesn’t come so easily to me). It means experimentation, and cultivating curiosity.
Another was the awareness that a lot of the people who hang out at smArts & Culture are doing creative things, and that creative people often have trouble with straight-up business stuff like writing a marketing plan. I wondered how to make that easier for them, maybe using visual techniques.
Havi Brooks was encouraging me along the same lines.
A third thread was the desire to bring more making into my life. Since I was a child, I thought of myself as an artist, and more than ten years ago, I deliberately gave that up. I found myself yearning to make something by hand — anything.
So all of those ideas came together to form Secret Play Date, but I still hesitated because I didn’t feel I had enough experience to lead people in it.
That’s when Havi suggested that I just invite people along, rather than wait until I felt ready, so that’s what I did.
2. What kind of projects have you worked on during your Secret Play Dates?
Oh, my goodness, what HAVEN’T I worked on?
When I first started Play-Dating, I thought it would be about getting concrete business stuff done.
I worked on business planning, sales copy, blog posts, project brainstorming, service revisions, tax preparation — you name it.
Then I started to realize that I could Play-Date the internal stuff, too.
I played with my tendency to think small. I worked through fear and anxiety that came up around a new project. I Play-Dated with my ideas about limitations.
I realized that there is nothing you can’t Play-Date, and Society of the Secret Play Date members are constantly inspiring me.
3. What kind of shifts or epiphanies have shown up for you as a result of Secret Play Dating?
Interacting with a couple of things that are related — ‘going big’ with my business, and a specific project (the Summer House talks) that I wanted so much to do, but felt out of my league at the time.
Through a number of Play Dates I realized that I had a lot of ambivalence about ‘going big’ — lots of negative associations. I came up with a better metaphor — growing wings — that feels so much freer and more exciting to me.
As I Play-Dated with the idea that became my Summer House conversations (a series of audio interviews), I was able to brainstorm and write while giving space for my monsters to speak their piece — they had their own separate Play Date with paper and markers. They had a grand old time.
Since I had that metaphorical shift around ‘growing wings,’ and worked through my anxieties about taking on a project that seemed too ambitious, I’ve felt much more confident in planning new, exciting things for my business. And I’ve gone ahead and done that.
4. Can you talk a bit about layer cake-ing?
Well, I could call it alternating, but layer cake sounds much more delicious, no?
Layer cake-ing is doing a bit of work and a bit of play in short, doable blocks of time. Maybe 10 minutes of writing blog posts, followed by 10 minutes of knitting, and repeating that.
I find it very helpful to layer-cake things that are tedious, like filing. I used layer-caking to get my tax documents together for my accountant this year, which is both tedious and something I really hate to do.
Layer-caking it with bits of collaging made it far more palatable, and I got it done quickly.
5. Do you have any new or upcoming stuff you want to talk about?
Yes, a couple of things!
‘A Day of Secret Play‘ happens on October 29. It’s an all-day play-date with your project. Joy Agcongay will join us to talk about silent retreating and how we might experiment with it in our daily lives, and in our Play Dates. The last ‘Day of Play’ was amazing — people made ridiculous progress with their projects, and it was so satisfying to set aside a full day to Play Date as a group.
The other thing is ‘Why Not Now?’ It’s a two-week intensive course/brainstorming lab/support group/hang-out for people who want to get their project out into the world, and it starts October 31.
(I actually came up with ‘Why Not Now?’ on our LAST ‘Day of Secret Play!’)
Maryann Devine hates to say she teaches classes. She’d rather think of it as inviting you along for the ride. She blogs about creativity, scrambles her brain with Shiva Nata, and enjoys snacks.