• Gina Greenlee, Author

Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously

Updated: Mar 15, 2019



  • Try something you’ve resisted because you didn’t want to “make a fool” of yourself. Yeah, that thing.

  • The local comedy club in my town runs Stand-up Comedy Boot Camp, a 15-hour workshop that culminates with each participant performing a 4-minute live set on the main stage. Lots of naturally funny people see stand-up comedians and think, I can do this. Yes you can! That’s just one example of trying on a playful experience and not taking yourself too seriously.

  • Here’s another: I videoed myself wearing my motorcycle helmet, blue lipstick and framed myself with the “rocket ship” special effects in my Windows Movie Maker. I called it, Ready to Blast Off, Captain Video, a line from a TV comedy classic, The Honeymooners.

When you don’t take yourself too seriously, play becomes an act of discovery. You never know what’s beyond that first step. My video came into being because I wondered, “What’s this?” as I clicked around the Windows Live Movie Maker program on my computer. The more I clicked the more special effects I discovered, including avatars and camera lens operations. The rocket ship effect cracked me up. That giddiness prompted me to don my scooter helmet to see if the pairing looked like spaceship travel. Of course it did. Next, I figured a space traveler would wear the blue lipstick I’d been too chicken to wear on earth. I added to this production design, cool space images found online, selected from YouTube’s music library an instrumental rock track, and blasted off into the deep space of my imagination.

Not taking yourself too seriously is a fantastic way to play with writing:

  • Play is an altered state of consciousness in which we’re relaxed. Receptive. New ideas engulf us.

  • In play, we are willing to risk more, to view experiments as conduits for information, not wholesale failures.

  • When we play, we discover because we allow emerging ideas, images and feelings to organically shape themselves.

  • Play = Experiment. Explore. Ask, “What if?”

Let’s Play!


Toy

Junk mail

Snapshot

Paper spam that comes to your postal box vs. your email inbox:

  • Use junk mail or old magazines to play the surrealist game, “Cubomania.” Says Wikipedia, “Cubomania is a method of making collages in which a picture or image is cut into squares and the squares are then reassembled without regard for the image. The technique was first used by the Romanian surrealist Gherasim Luca.”

  • Google “Cubomania” then click images to see what it looks like. Nothing could be simpler yet so worthwhile for relaxing and opening the writer’s mind.

Process Playbook

  • Creating junk mail art is a great visual art practice if you don’t already have one.

  • It’s the perfect art material. We were going to throw it out anyway. We tend not to attach to, and invest in it like we do brand new markers, paints, canvases or smooth blank pages. We are more inclined to roll with the adventure because hey, it’s junk! Our expectations are low.

  • A lot of junk mail is aesthetically interesting. I’m rarely interested in the solicitation but often, I’m crazy about the intricate, innovative packaging. I stash junk mail as templates for envelopes and flier folds when I send “good mail” (postal art) to friends.

  • When I began playing with junk mail I recognized it as yet another metaphor for seeing the possibilities for play in everyday life. Rob Brezsny reminded me of this in one of his Free Will Astrology horoscopes for Capricorns, my birth sign:

The Cardboard Box

Capricorn (December 22-January 19)

“So far, 53 toys have been inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame. They include crayons, the jump rope, Mr. Potato Head, the yo-yo, the rubber duckie, and dominoes. My favorite inductee – and the toy that is most symbolically useful to you right now – is the plain old cardboard box. Of all the world’s playthings, it is perhaps the one that requires and activates the most imagination. It can become a fort, a spaceship, a washing machine, a cave, a submarine, and many other exotic things. I think you need to be around influences akin to the cardboard box because they are likely to unleash your dormant creativity.”

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Want more toys? Dig into the Writer’s Toy Chest!


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