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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

Kid-tested, Writer-approved, Surprising Gifts to Boost Imagination

“One can never have enough socks,” said Dumbledore. “Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.”

– J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Of course books are outstanding gifts, but like Albus Dumbledore, I do think other gift options are underutilized.

Unlike Dumbledore, however, I do NOT think socks are the alternative.

It’s toys!

Kids don’t need toys as much as adults do. As Einstein pointed out, creativity arises from our imagination at play, and children are more in touch with their imagination than most adults. Which is why a kid can have as much fun with the big cardboard box as the expensive toy inside it.

Adults need to make a point (and sometimes an appointment) to allow ourselves to play. We need to make creative play a habit we commit to so we remember play for the sake of play is far from pointless.

Play is essential to creativity.

If you feel embarrassed or guilty about buying yourself toys, buy two of each – one of you and one to donate.

If you’re not a writer, but a writer sent you here to read this, it’s because that writer wants to either a) make holiday gift shopping easier for you or b) encourage you to give yourself permission to share the benefits of creative play with appropriate “tools.” You don’t have to be a writer to let your imagination play in service to the world.

Beyond Coloring Books

There’s nothing wrong with coloring books, but there are so many more possibilities for creative play. Try something new!

  1. My current favorite Process play is watching “Exotic Sand.” It’s beautiful, mesmerizing, intriguing and very Zen.

2. This year, I’m getting the utimate in Zen Process play – the Buddha Board.

An in-depth artist’s view of playing with the Buddha Board.

3. For a more dynamic, less sublime way to set up and let go, consider dominoes.

4. I relish process play toys I can really get my hands on and into. You know about clay and Play-doh, I’m sure, but do you know about Kinetic Sand? Not only is it fun to play with, you can make your own.

More cool things you can do with Kinetic Sand.

5. A couple of years ago, my sister Glendeen gave me a Perplexus. I love it! I have to admit, though, that the only time I saw the ball get all the way to 100 was on the video.

There are different kinds of ball mazes, including the Addict A Ball, but I have a special fondness for the Perplexus because Glendeen gave it to me. It’s so rewarding when your family recognizes and supports you as a writer even in the “silly” gifts they give you.

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4 Comments on “Kid-tested, Writer-approved, Surprising Gifts to Boost Imagination”

  1. robinldyson December 12, 2017 at 10:31 am #

    Always love the play focus when it comes to writing that you put in your blog posts.


  2. Rose I. December 9, 2017 at 6:45 pm #

    What a refreshing email! I hereby give myself permission to play more.


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