I sat across the table from Lucia, curious about why he had struggled to complete some of the activities in The Little Book of Play? He had struggled with activities that invited him to engage with someone else (especially a stranger).

‘What will people think of me?’, is how he put it.

Play and creativity often require us to get a little ‘reckless’ with ourselves and our pride. We have to put ourselves and our creations out into the world, where there is always the chance they will be rejected, ridiculed and found wanting.

It reminded me of an article I had read on NeuroscienceNews.com, Unlocking Creative Flow: How the Brain Enters the Zone. It’s a summary of research completed by Drexel University, focussing on Creative Flow and the Brain.


  • Effortless, enjoyable productivity is a state of consciousness (flow) prized and sought after by people in business, the arts, research, education and anyone else who wants to produce a stream of creative ideas and products.
  • Creative flow state involves two key factors: extensive experience, which leads to a network of brain areas specialized for generating the desired type of ideas, plus the release of control – ‘letting go’ – to allow this network to work with little or no conscious supervision.


Creativity isn’t well understood outside of the arts. What it is, who has it, how its developed, is it important, where does it come from, etc? This research gives at least two very practical steps towards entering into a state of creative flow:

  1. Become an expert in whatever it is that you do
  2. Let go and withdraw conscious control (this does sound more difficult and abstract than the first point)

You’ve got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail – Charlie Parker (Jazz Great)