Creativity, Play, and Divergent Thinking
THANK YOU to everyone who has pledged for my Kickstarter campaign so far. It is exciting to have surpassed our goal already. If you are still interested in being part of the project, there are pledge levels and rewards available with octopuses of both sizes.
The octopuses are having some fun adventures. They had fun meeting other sea creatures on a recent trip to Virginia Beach.
Today we are watching Octopus: Making Contact while I work on details: sewing eyes and funnels, and adding the stuffing to complete some of the bigger octopuses.
The tiny octopuses have been assembling for photos and playing with different arrangements of their colors.
This whole project has me thinking about play and curiosity, about the vulnerability and connection that comes with sharing our silliness, with playing together. For the past 4 years I’ve met most Fridays with a small group of women to discuss our journeys as writers. Books have been published, essays written, illustrated projects and artwork have come to life.
At some point, we realized that although we meet to discuss writing, there are also many other ways creativity manifests in each of our lives, including but not limited to writing. This happens through quilting, drawing, cooking, playing games, photography, gardening, making a home, so many things. Our conversation expanded to discuss ways we are learning about ourselves and our creativity in life in general.
I’ve been grateful for this and sometimes surprised by the importance of this small safe starting space for sharing new, vulnerable, and sometimes silly things. My crocheted octopuses are a recent example. The first time I showed up to my writing group with one of my octopuses, I was a bit hesitant to share.
“So, no, I haven’t written this week but I made an octopus.”
We meet on Zoom; I quickly flashed the octopus across my screen and sheepishly hid it again in my lap. I felt like I was confessing to yet another distraction that was keeping me away from my main focus, from my writing. However, my friends did not see it that way at all. They wanted to really see the octopus, to know about the process of making her, to imagine stories and adventures we might have together, to learn her name. Their play with this visitor to our group gave me permission and encouragement to honor this silliness and play myself too. It allowed me to see this work not as distraction but as part of a larger and expanded sense of my process of exploring creativity and metaphors for relationship with creativity.
In the past few weeks, as I have been sharing octopus updates on Kickstarter and Instagram, I enjoy playfulness and challenge of trying out new ways for the octopuses to have adventures. It’s a bit contagious too, my son took this picture this weekend of the octopuses with our dog.
Where do you find playfulness and silliness in your life help you connect with others and deepen relationships?
Do you have a voice for your family pet that you share?
Do you have beloved characters in familiar stuffed animals or childhood toys?
Divergent thinking is the process of crafting multiple different solutions to a problem or challenge.
In studies and evaluations of creativity, you might see a question like how many uses can you think of for a paper clip? The longer the list, the more skilled the person is at divergent thinking, one of measure of creativity. At the same time, the very fact that creativity is being evaluated might make it harder to think of ideas.
Play is an ideal way to practice divergent thinking. I particularly think of all the ways we re-purpose and invent new uses for things when we play. Two of my favorite picture books feature playful divergent thinking with cardboard boxes: Christina Katerina and the Box by Patricia Lee Gauch and Not a Box by Antoinette Portis. Here is an example of a variation on the theme from kids creating at Art at the Center: Not a Tube.
So, I invite you into a new question:
How many places can you think of to hide an octopus?
Below are a few examples from my home this week.
Octopuses lend themselves really well to this sort of play because they are known for being masters of disguise and their boneless bodies allow them to flow and adapt around all kinds of situations. They are playful creatures. Once you start hiding an octopus around your house, the possibilities are endless.
If you would like to bring this challenge to your home, you can bring home an octopus by supporting my Kickstarter campaign at the link below.
Thank you for reading and being part of creative community through this newsletter.
With a grateful heart,
I love your Octopus fun idea so much Kathryn! You are spreading cheer, creativity, play, and curiosity! And what fun to create stories for the octopus adventures! I love the support of your writer's group! We support you here too! I like all of the photos in different spots! I have names and love my stuffed animal friends as well since childhood and still have many of them today! Maybe you can make an underwater theme somewhere!
I am grateful for the inspiration from reading Kathryn’s newsletter. It reminds me of the importance to play and make space for my creativity!