The Connection Between Creativity and Play

The Connection Between Creativity and Play


Tim Brown
’s TED Talk illustrates something we believe wholeheartedly – play is a necessity when it comes to being creative.

Brown draws the connection between play and creativity with a unique and insightful perspective. He illuminates how play-like activities catapult us into a world where it’s okay to wonder “what if?”

Esteemed doctor, researcher, author and founder of the National Institute of Play, Stuart Brown has said, “All sorts of creative new connections are made when you’re playing that otherwise would never be made.”

Dr. Brown through his writing and coaching shares seven tips on how to get more play into our lives. They are simple but important concepts that we’ve found very effective to our creative way of life at DoubleShot.

Take your play history. Think back to a time you were more carefree, even back to what got you really excited as a child. Our co-founder, Annie, has always been a huge fan of the children’s book ‘Harold and the Purple Crayon’, so much so that we have a copy of it in our office to get us in the playful mindset for brainstorming.

Expose yourself to play. Of course it can be a sport, but it can be simple things like taking a picture, giggling with your child, or at DoubleShot we are big fans of throwing the ball with our dogs.

Give yourself permission to be playful. As Dr. Brown points out, one of the biggest roadblocks for adults is a fear of looking silly or childish, but that’s the whole point. You need to give yourself permission to be spontaneous and express yourself. Play is so ingrained in how we work that it’s almost a given during one of our brainstorm sessions that we will go off on a playful tangent…it could mean watching a funny video, sharing a story or doodle. One thing’s for sure those playful “squirrel” moments always lead us to better ideas.

Fun is your North Star, but you don’t always have to head north. The point is that play should be (mostly) fun, but don’t give up on it if it’s not always super easy. Sure you have to deal with the security check point and long baggage lines to go on vacation but that week in Turks and Caicos, snorkeling, jumping off boats and laughing with friends is definitely a playful event that’s worth it. On the other hand, if you are dreading that round of golf with your old college buddy and wanting to break your clubs by the 9th hole, then maybe that’s not the right playful outlet for you.

Be active. Physical activity is one of the quickest ways to get your play on. Riding your bike to work, going for a swim, or just taking a break and getting up from your desk are all great ways to get the creative juices flowing. Some of our greatest ideas and video scripts were a result of a nice long walk, talking while strolling around the Stanford campus.

Free yourself of fear. You need to feel safe to allow the transformative nature of play to take over. Spending time alone at your favorite quite spot might be all it takes. We encourage our team to take vacation, work at home or do whatever they need to to get their creative juices flowing.

Nourish your mode of play, and be with people who nourish it to. Play takes practice and commitment. Just like we need to eat to nourish our bodies, we need to play to nourish our creative soul. One of the best ways to do that is to surround yourself with like-minded playmates. When we’re hiring or partnering we definitely look for playful types. You have to be willing to play with us if you want to create with us. We also believe in creating extra playtime in our work lives. The second Friday of every month around here is called Freaky Friday. That means calendars are kept clear and team members are simply asked to go do something fun and creative (aka play). It could be a trip to a museum, a DIY art project they want to try, a photo walk, or an online class. Whatever way you want to play on those given Fridays is up to you, and the extra fun is in sharing it back with the team.

Play really does have its rewards. In fact, several studies have shown a play-like attitude brings out creative insights. In this study, a group of students that were allowed to play for 10 minutes before completing a creative or standard task performed better and had more creative ideas than the group that wasn’t allowed to play.

The bottom line is when we play, we’re free to fail and explore creative outlets without limits that normally constrain us.

If you want a glimpse into how the DoubleShot Creative team plays check out the “Our World” photo on our About Us page. If you can guess which items go with which team member you might just win a little playful swag item. 🙂 Leave a comment below or reach out to us on Facebook with your guesses.

We want to hear from you. What activities spark your creativity? Come on let’s play!

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