I’m not entirely sure whether the Writing 101 crew genuinely believe in the importance of free writing, or if they just ran out of ideas for assignments at this point. Either way, they start the assignment off with a very true quote from author Anne Lamatt: “I don’t think you have time to waste not writing because you are afraid you won’t be good at it.”
Today is a free-writing day. Write at least four-hundred words, and once you start typing, don’t stop. No self-editing, no trash-talking, and no second-guessing: just go. Bonus points if you tackle an idea you’ve been playing with but think is too silly to post about.
I’ve mentioned before that I think a little bit of childishness in life is a good thing. After all, you never want to grow up too much, and adulthood is stressful, so why not do fun, silly things to relieve some of that clenched-jaw-ed-ness? So today, for my free-write, I’m going to provide you with a few ideas for things to do to break out that inner, significantly-less-stressed-out, child. Side note: I have personally done every one of these things myself.
Get yourself a pack of crayons and a coloring book and have at it. Bonus points if you get the mega-pack of crayons and the book features characters you loved as a child.
I suggested this once before, a few years ago, and it still tops my list of fun, childish things to do. There’s something very cathartic about putting crayons to paper, especially if you let yourself get wacky with your color choices. Plus it’s such a mindless kind of activity that you can hardly help feeling calmer and more zen-like once you’ve created a few Crayola masterpieces.
Curl up and watch a few episodes of one of your favorite childhood cartoons.
Thanks to the internet it’s not terribly difficult to track down downloadable files of the shows you once watched as a kid, even if those shows haven’t been available on a physical media for years. So go download some Tiny Toons or Ren and Stimpy and give this suggestion a try! You might be surprised by the smiles that creep onto your face when those old friends appear on the screen. You may also find yourself groaning and cringing as you realize how lame some of your childhood favorites seem these days, but that’s actually half of the fun.
Curl up and watch a few episodes of a modern-day cartoon.
I’m gonna let you in on a secret that really isn’t very much of a secret, depending on how much attention you pay to this blog: I watch a lot of cartoons. Shocking, right? But also pretty understandable considering that I have a young kid. But what if I told you that I don’t watch cartoons with my daughter just because I don’t feel like fighting over the remote, but because I genuinely enjoy watching cartoons with her? Sure, some of them are painful (*cough*Dora*cough*), but there are lots that are genuinely fun, clever, and entertaining. Or, at least, a lot more fun, clever, and entertaining than the things adults are expected to watch, like the news and reality TV. So curl up with some Spongebob, Ninja Turtles, or a Disney flick and just enjoy the little guilty pleasure smiles that sneak up on you while you’re watching.
Go for a swing.
Go do this right now. Find yourself a swing set, whether it be the one you set up in the backyard for the kids, or the one at the local park, and start swinging. Pump your legs hard to go high and fast, and then just let yourself coast down until you slow to a gentle rock. Then try and tell me that you don’t feel at least a little better about life.
Act like a monkey.
I don’t mean literally act like a monkey, but take a cue from the way kids refuse to sit still and just climb and roll around like a fool. It helps kids expend energy, but it can actually help adults to gain energy. When I’m tired and cranky, one thing that perks me up is flipping around on the couch, hanging my head over the side, and throwing my legs up in the air. It looks goofy, but it gets the blood moving and gives me that little rush of energy. Climbing a tree would be even better, but since I don’t have any good climbing trees nearby I’ll just have to stick with my couch for now.
Think like a kid.
Some of these suggestions might require a little bit of time, planning, and working around other responsibilities, because after all, you are an adult and you have lots of things to deal with on a day-to-day basis. But there’s one thing you can do anywhere, any time of day that will immediately make you a little more carefree: think like a kid. See the world through a kid’s eyes and you can’t help but cheer up. Stuck in a boring, pointless meeting? Make up stupid songs in your head to get you through the boredom. Walking to work down a busy public street? Pretend that the cracks in the sidewalk are electrocuted and take care to avoid them. Customer in line in front of you at the fast food joint pitching a fit and holding you up? Imagine them as a big, ugly, drooling ogre and try to keep your chuckles to yourself.
Because, ultimately, what makes kids amazing is their ability to let their minds wander to happier, more amusing things, and to turn the whole world around them into an adventure. And if adults could harness that ability to just let the real world melt away every now and then…well, I think we’d all be a lot happier and a lot more stress-free.