As an adult, writing is one of my favorite activities. I write to think, clarify, and serve others. But, until recently, I’d never experienced writing as a form of play.
Through the serendipity of sharing my work on Twitter, I met Ritesh. He lives in India and has taken COVID as an early cue for retirement. Part of that transition includes writing and living for the simple joy of it. In our initial conversation, he asked “Would you like to catch up for a writing game or two?”
A writing game? I had no idea what he was talking about, but who doesn’t like games? Do you remember playing hot potato as a kid? Imagine playing as an adult, except in place of the hot potato, you are passing off a quick and spontaneously written piece of writing. The recipient will continue the story for the next 10 minutes as you advance somebody else’s story.
You could write about anything. It could be deep or silly, fantasy or reality, and you have only your instincts to rapidly conjure up a continuation of what you were given. At the end of 10 minutes, you return the article to its author and continue your own writing from where your partner left off. It’s like a team-based “write your own adventure.”
It was incredible to see how two people on literal opposite sides of the world could instantly connect and expand upon each other’s thoughts. The experience was an instant energizer as I was challenged to think so far outside the norm in an anything-goes environment. It was like nothing I’d ever done before. And, it was SO MUCH FUN.
I’ve been writing and publishing every day. But this experience jolted me to realize how limited my view of writing was. I considered my nephews who dread writing. With the strong correlation between that and thinking, we need to find ways to make it into a fun, challenging experience where they can experiment and collaborate with others. We need to incorporate play, which is direly lacking in today’s education system.
We explore the (dead) poets and authors, yet we fail to capture the essence of their words. Writing is more than grammar and word choice. It’s about critical thinking, creativity, and passion. Games like Minecraft are a huge success because players are able to explore, create, and have fun in a risk-free zone. What if they realized this same thing was possible through writing?
It is our duty to scream (or write) far and wide about the opportunities for this type of play. The activity described was only one of an infinite number of possibilities. As more people write, they might find that it’s not so significantly different from the games they play, but this time they’re becoming more effective players in the game called life.
Started during our game, Ritesh finished his article titled “Wake Up!” Take a look and see what is possible in only a short amount of time. Such a lovely piece to contribute toward! Thanks for the invitation!
For anyone interested in this type of exercise, we used Google Docs to share our documents back-and-forth in real-time.