Pen and Paper

Multiple events are happening in the world.  Many things are outside our control. However, the practice of PLOK is in our control and may  lead to some sense of calmness and peace for  periods of time in a turbulent pandemic. What is PLOK? PLOK  is the combination of PLAY and WORK. This is when you are following your heart and loving what you do. It is not work any more. It can be viewed as a creative process. The term was coined by Sister Mary Kent Corita. Sister Mary Kent Corita was an amazing woman, teacher, artist, social activist and nun in the religious order, Immaculate Heart of Mary. This post is a short reflection on practice of PLOK in the pandemic. PLOK activities can be very powerful practices for calmness.


Some people are blessed with circumstances where they can engage in  PLOK at a paid job, which, financially sustains them. Many people, however, engage in PLOK as a hobby or side project. PLOK may also represent flow experience in positive psychology where a person loves what he or she is doing and becomes immersed in the activity for hours.  Please see post ON FLOW in positive psychology. Some call it entering the “zone”. I think of it as the sacred space of creation. PLOK activities feed the soul, lighten the heart,  stimulate the mind and replenishes the body. Engrossment in PLOK activities is soothing, refreshing and joyful. I have heard this from writers, painters, athletes, surfers and poets that they are so immersed in the activity, they do not notice time flying by. I had a previous supervisor who was an avid surfer. He said that for good surfing, he watches the waves intently and nothing else is in his mind. He described laser sharp focus in catching and riding the wave. While surfing, he saw himself as part of the wave. While surfing, he and the wave are one. This union with the activity reminds me of yoga experiences. He discussed the exhilaration and utter joy after a great surfing experience.

Some artists have talked about their best creative work as co-creating with the Universe, meaning material comes from somewhere else and they catch it through the medium of art, words or paint etc. The American poet, Ruth Stone discussed, on the website, the uniqueness of her creative process. Ruth Stone describes her  creative process as the following:

“As a child growing up on a farm in rural Virginia, Ruth could sometimes hear a poem coming towards her like a galloping horse rushing across the land. She would then “run like hell” towards the house so that she can stay ahead of the poem, and catch it with a pencil and paper.

Though the euphoric feeling when inspiration strikes is amazing, we are advised to “let it come and let it go”. In other words, we should continue creating our art, and put it out there for the world (or ourselves) to savour”.

Other writers talk about the inspiration for creation coming from deep inside of self. For example: as noted on the website, Elizabeth Gilbert Wrote,“A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner – continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you – is a fine art, in and of itself.”


Sister Mary Kent Corita wrote the  ten rules for students and teachers. I also see the rules as relevant to learning,  the creative process, and PLOK. They also seem great guides for life. I love the rules.

Corita Kent: Ten Rules for Students and Teachers
RULE ONE: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for awhile.
RULE TWO: General duties of a student: pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.
RULE THREE: General duties of a teacher: pull everything out of your students.
RULE FOUR: Consider everything an experiment.
RULE FIVE: Be self-disciplined: this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.
RULE SIX: Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.
RULE SEVEN: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.
RULE EIGHT: Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.
RULE NINE: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.
RULE TEN: We’re breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.
From Corita Kent’s book Learning by Heart: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit.
Sister Corita’s rules are fantastic.  It is hard to pick which ones to write about. In terms of the creative process and PLOK, I love the rule of trusting yourself in the process of doing what you love. I also believe in the difference between creation and analysis. Creation is  where the raw material comes out of you abundantly and the primary goal is to capture it on a medium. Paper, paint, words, wood. Analysis is critically examining the work. Analysis cannot be combined with creation because our internal critics will mess up the abundant outpouring of the material that comes out in creation. In creativity, there is no mistake as each step leads to the next. Creativity is an unpredictable process.
Happy PLOKKING to all the readers.