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Make Fun of it! : The Power of Fun

“Laughter isn’t just the best medicine,
it’s also the best Kryptonite”—Captain Creative

When I first started writing this article I was really excited. I was full of energy and my ideas were zinging happily. It didn’t take long, though, until the zingy started to feel a little fluttery and I realized I was nervous.

Not to be deterred, I kept on writing until the fluttery and zingy got jittery and moved up into my head, where they started whirring. That was when I realized that I was more than nervous, I was worried!–What would I say? Would anyone read it? Would they like it? This felt decidedly more jittery and frazzley than fun. But I wasn’t about to let a little anxiety get the better of me, so I dutifully wrote on.

The Panic Button

panic button
Inner Critics love the Panic Button

Then a smarmy little voice inside me whispered the final blow,What if it’s so bad that everyone disowns you? Wincing, I thought of the embarrassed smiles and averted eyes. An irrational terror gripped me: my heart raced, my lungs choked, and my heart seized. I could no longer deny it; I was in full panic attack!

 I made the split-second decision to cut my losses, save myself, and retreat to fight another day. I ditched the toxic article with a casual quip, It wasn’t much fun anyway. No one will notice if I don’t do a newsletter this month…

Captain Creative to the Rescue

Hey…. Wait a minute…. I thought. Even as my pulse calmed, my breathing slowed, and my wits returned, I smelled a rat. Hmmm….Even the relief washing over me felt fake. This whole zingy-to-fluttery-to-jittery-to-frazzley-to-panic-to-retreat thing feels awfully familiar…. I thought to myself, eyes narrowing suspiciously. Where have I seen this before?….

Suddenly Captain Creative’s voice chimed in from behind me ” Never fear, Captain Creative is here! This sounds like a job for….

Inner Critic Kryptonite!

…faster than a speeding doubt,

…able to leap creative blocks in a single bound,

…more powerful than your Inner Critic!

It’s Inner Critic Kryptonite!

Of course! It was my Inner Critic! I’d know that evil saboteur anywhere. It was true. I’d been hijacked by my Inner Critic. Once he pressed the panic button, my article had somehow become a life-or-death emergency!

The Fun Gun       

The Fun Gun“Thank Goodness you’re here Captain Creative!” I sighed. She just smiled and pushed her bag of Kryptonites towards me, saying, “Go fish.”

I reached into her Inner-Critic-busting toolbag and pulled out a …pink plastic water pistol ?!?…I gingerly pulled the trigger and a little flag unfurled with “Splat!” written on it.

 “Oh, goodie! It’s the Fun Gun!” Captain Creative beamed, ignoring my bewildered–and very underwhelmed–look.

“The ….uh…Fun Gun?” I asked, chucking the silly pink gun on the table. “Are you serious, Captain Creative? How can fun be a Kryptonite? I felt like I was fighting for my life back there. A little toy gun isn’t going to make a dent in that big bad boy Inner Critic of mine.”

 Captain Creative looked me sternly in the eye and spoke with the most serious voice I’d ever heard her use: “NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF FUN!” Then her serious face evaporated as quickly as it had come  “All kidding aside,” she laughed, “Trust me, fun really is one of the most powerful Kryptonites! That toy gun may not look like much, but your Inner Critic’s Panic button is no match for the Fun Gun!”

“What happened back there?” I demanded. “And how can I make sure it never happens again?”  

Oxygen to the Brain 

“Well,” smiled Captain Creative, “I can’t promise it’ll never happen again–not as long as you keep taking creative risks like putting your writing on the page and out in the world.” Unfased by my look of disappointment, she went on, ” But I am here to help. First things first:  take a deep breath and calm down. Oxygen to the brain is always a good thing. Ok, now, let me explain what’s going on. Once you understand that, I can teach you how to tame that Inner Critic of yours, so he won’t freak out and shut you down next time you sit down to write.”

“Ok,” I said, breathing deeply. “I’m all ears.”

Captain Creative began, “Your Inner Critic is like a big, dumb body guard or an over-protective mother; he just wants to keep you safe at all costs. The trouble is he can’t tell the difference between creative writing and a life-or-death emergency.”

saber toother tiger check
Get real with a saber-toothed tiger check

Saber-toothed Tiger Check

“It’s really no wonder that your Inner Critic is a drama queen,” she went on. “It makes perfect sense when you realize that he’s basically the voice of your reptilian survival brain. That’s the area responsible for saving your life–if you’re a caveman with a saber-tooth tiger is chasing you down.”

 Now, Katherine,” she whispered conspiratorialy.” Look closely: Are there any saber-toothed tigers in the room?”

 “No,” I nodded.

 “Have you seen a saber-toothed tiger this morning?” she asked.

 “No,” I nodded again.

 Have you ever seen a saber tooth tiger?” she pressed.

 “No,” I  laughed.

“Of course not. They’re extinct–along with 99% of the life-or-death threats that your survival brain was designed to protect you from!”

“That makes sense, Captain Creative,” I chuckled. “but why does my Inner Critic do this? Why does he get all hot and bothered when I’m writing? ”

“Great question.” she said, “First of all, he can’t tell the difference between a creative risk and a saber-toothed tiger. Second of all, your Inner Critic is bored. With no saber-tooth tigers to protect you from, he tries to make himself useful by defending you from your dreams instead. You can hardly blame him for exaggerating the risks of creative writing and public speaking. He’s so used to living in a state of emergency, he’s grown to like it. Besides, it makes him feel useful. And most importantly, it keeps him in control of your life so he can keep you safe from disappointment, embarrassment and saber-toothed tigers. If you’re going to let him ‘drive the bus’ you’ve got to accept that he’s going to have his finger on the panic button the whole time.”

“No thank you!” I declared.” I want more peace and quiet in my life. I’m tired of his roller-coaster adrenaline ride. How can I get him out of the driver’s seat?”

“Start by taking a deep breath to get some oxygen to your brain. Then do a saber-toothed tiger check. Ask yourself: Is my life truly in peril?

  • If yes–let your Inner Critic save you
  •  If no–send Inner Critic back to bed.”

Flip Your FearThis is your Inner Critic

“Okay, I get it Captain Creative. But even if there’s no saber-tooth tiger, it still feels like there is.” What do I do if I’ve already been hijacked by my Inner Critic?”

“Then it’s time to use the Fun gun!”  she beamed.

“How does it work?” I asked.

“Picture your Inner Critic as the ultimate bad guy, complete with a dastardly costume, an evil plan, and menacing henchmen. Got that picture in mind? Good….Now aim the fun gun at him and make him wear a tutu! Ta-dah! The Fun gun strikes again!”

I chuckled as Captain Creative went on, “You can also use the fun gun to do a spoof of whoever or whatever is pushing the panic button. Your article, for example. Create a new document on our computer called article.spoof and make it as silly, goofy, and cheesy as you can. You can even spoof your Inner Critic’s paranoid delusioInner Critic in tutuns. That never fails to takes the fear out of his sails! If you let yourself ‘warm up’ with a spoof or an intentionally crummy first draft, you’ll find it’s ten times easier to write the real thing.”

I looked at the fun gun with new respect, “But what if I’m so panicked I forget to use the fun gun?”

“Another great question,” Captain Creative said. “Well, experienced Inner Critic wranglers use the fun gun every day. They practice finding the fun in whatever they are doing so laughing in the face of fear becomes second nature. Not only do they get really good at taming their Inner Critics, but their lives are a blast too!”

Find the Fun

Captain Creative went on enthusiastically, “When you stop looking for fun to come from someone or somewhere else, you take back control of your own life. No more waiting for other people to get with the program and make you happy. Remember, we don’t see the world the way it is, but the way we are. If you look for fun, you’ll find it!” she beamed.

“That’s easy for you to say, Captain Creative,” I whined. “You’re a super-hero! How do I find the fun in my busy, stressful life?”

“Being a super-hero isn’t all fun and games, you know,” she winked. “But seriously, finding the fun in your life is not as hard as it sounds. It’s just a matter of changing your perspective. Close your eyes and think back to when you were six years old–what did you love? What made you smile?… giggle? …laugh? Take a minute and really feel what it was like to see every day as an adventure. Good. Now try imaging your six-year-old self teleported back into your grown-up body. How would she make writing your article more fun?”

“Hmmm,” I mused, “I suppose we could write it with colored markers, or put on a funny hat. We could  even write it in a tent in the backyard,” I said, warming up to this, “with a cupcake and a nap afterwards!”

“Excellent! I knew you could do it!” Captain Creative cheered as she turned towards the door.  “Oh, and remember– just like medicine–fun is best taken daily!” Suddenly I was alone again as Captain Creative’s dashed off to save the day for some other hijacked Creative Spark.

Take TwoFunny hat portrait

With my trusty fun gun by my side, I was ready to try again. I took a deep breath, put my silly hat on, and did a quick saber-tooth tiger check. Then I warmed up with a little spoof of this article (hosted by my Inner Critic wearing a tutu.) I was laughing so hard by the time I was done, that I completely forgot what anyone would think of my writing. And as you can see, I finished my article and have sent it out into the world!

Your Turn 

If my inner six-year-old can do it, so can you! Think of one project your Inner Critic has shut you down on–maybe a painting, a poem, or a new journal. Try the fun gun out for yourself:

  1. Take a deep breath
  2. Do a saber-toothed-tiger check
  3. Flip your fear
  4. Find the fun!

Let me how the fun gun works for you (and what your Inner Critic looks like in a tutu!) Post your comments below: