Yes, And It Promotes Mental Flexibility

A few years ago, there was an improv flurry through freelance writers and writing coaches. Nearly every single one of them that I read or talked to said improvisation was the key to their continuous output and helped them fight back against writer’s block. While I have seen and enjoyed improv shows, I’ve never done it myself, so I just nodded and went on my way.

A couple of years later, I was in a voiceover workshop and the instructor told us all to go take an improv class. I wrote it down in my notes, and closed the book. I did the same thing a month later when the same woman went on the same rant. (Seriously, she was quite enthusiastic about this.)

Last summer, nearly every copywriter and published writer whose blog I was reading posted about how improv was helping them improve their writing skills. And then the local community college’s quarter catalog hit our inbox, and  they were offering an improv class that quarter (that conflicted with my work schedule and had the beginning acting class, which I haven’t taken, as a prerequisite). It was a sign that, although I was starting to understand why I needed to, I couldn’t respond to. Then I was reading an issue of Interactions Magazine, and guess what one of the articles was about?

As I started looking at the education philosophies, creative media, and transdisciplinary skills, I realized that taking up improv might be useful for more than just helping me with my creative work. Improv helps you develop the ability to think on your feet, to collaborate and cooperate with others to create something from nothing, and sharpens your creative thinking. It allows you to explore ideas, on their own and in combination with ideas you would never think to combine them with. It gives you permission to be silly, recklessly or otherwise, as you develop ideas, which can lead to the creation of strong, useful ideas. And more and more professionals from different industries are praising improv for helping them become better at their job.

And I’m narrating, and in trying to figure out how to survive narrating, I keep hearing that I should consider improv. I don’t know how I’m supposed to do this, but apparently it’s supposed to be on my list of 2012 goals (because I don’t do resolutions).

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Improv, The Unexpected Transdisciplinary Skill

A few years ago, there was an improv flurry through freelance writers and writing coaches. Nearly every single one of them that I read or talked to said improvisation was the key to their continuous output and helped them fight back against writer’s block. While I have seen and enjoyed improv shows, I’d never done it myself, so I just nodded and went on my way.

A couple of years ago, I was in a voiceover workshop and the instructor told us all to go take an improv class. I wrote it down in my notes, and closed the book. I did the same thing a month later when the same woman went on the same rant. (Seriously, she was quite enthusiastic about this.)

Last summer, right as one of the local community college’s catalog hit our mailbox, nearly every copywriter and published writer whose blog I was reading posted about how improv was helping them improve their writing skills. It was freaky, but I noted that the community college offered an improv class (that conflicted with my work schedule and stated that the beginning acting class as a prerequisite).

It’s kind of like one of those cosmic signs…that’s completely wrong for a strong introvert like me. Because it hasn’t fit my schedule yet, I really haven’t worried much about it. But last week I was reading the current issue of Interactions Magazine, because I’m trying to learn about interaction design, and guess what showed up? I don’t know how I’m supposed to do this, but apparently I really have to at least look into it.

The lesson here, I think, is that regardless of the creative field you’re in, there’s a lot you can learn from improv that will help you be better at your field.

An Improvisational Writing Prompt

One of my goals on my secret to-do list is to take an improv class, or at the very least, sit and watch one rehearse. I always thought it would be a great way to work on improving my writing because it would hopefully get me into the mindset of reacting in the moment and riffing on something.

It turns out that another writer is doing the improv scene and has found something useful for writers- a game called, “Yes, and…” Actually, she’s found a handful of improv techniques that can help writers, but I really liked the game. She suggested it as a reminder of accepting what’s thrown at you and building from there, but I think as a writing prompt on its own, it could be fairly useful. You write out something, get stuck, and then say “Yes, and…” instead of “What now?”

I think this could be a great way to work through difficult scenes and writer’s block. Just remember it’s only a draft and you can change things later when you’re editing.