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One of the most significant characteristics of play, is the ability to marginalize consequence. Practicing problem solving with consequences minimalized, trains us to take risks, something vital to creative growth. As we've established, there are significant similarities between play and creativity, enough so that play can act as creativity's surrogate training regimen. If you've ever been to a physical trainer, you know that it's common for a trainer to suggest switching exercises when a particular muscle stops responding to an exercise.
The trainer's goal is to keep the body guessing, as the body can adapt quickly. Play does the same thing to creativity. It offers a change of purpose while maintaining its structure. And nothing does this better than play's extreme workout, improv. Improvisation is the act of on-demand creation and reaction. In theater, improv involves actors reacting to each other, the audience or an ad hoc situation all on the fly. Comedy improv has one rule. It's called yes and.
It means you have to take the situation you're given and just go with it. Audiation is much the same, especially in a group dynamic. Imagine being able to riff and jam off of someone else. Taking what they offered and modifying it, and they doing the same. It's the foundational aspect of brainstorming, and it's 100% play. Let's try a little improv right now. Choose an object that you can reach right now. Something that you can hold in your hand. Any object will do. Got your object? You are the world's foremost expert on this object.
You've spent your entire life studying it and its kind. No one knows more about your object than you do. For the next 60 seconds, I need you to tell me everything you know about your object. Your goal is to prove to me in one minute that you are an expert on your object. You have to talk for the entire 60 seconds. Don't pause to think or judge, or don't internalize the exercise. Speak out loud. Ready? Go. Now, what you just did was incredibly creative.
You had to invent a story for this object, and you had to do it on the fly with no preparation. You had purpose, restriction, and action. And the best part? You kept going. This pushed you to go places you may have otherwise have missed, if you weren't engaged in play. That is, creative training.
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