I’ve been facing fears recently (lots of them actually) in an effort to stretch and build my growth muscles. And let me tell you… what a ride!
One of the “Fears that will make me grow” I’ve been tackling is… *drumroll* …improv!
So a couple of weeks ago Joe (the hubbs) and I started improv classes: both a best and worst experience in my life.
Best because it’s reminding me how to imagine, play, jump all in without questioning rules and authority.
Best because it’s releasing my inner child as it pushes my boundaries and helps me makes deeper connections in my life and business.
Best because it is art and as we participate in one art form, it improves our skill, approach and depth in another.
Worst because it’s new and difficult and not any kind of theater I’ve done before.
Worst because it triggers me, asking for honesty that is 50 notches below my “norm.” “Would you really react that way?” the director asks and “Would you really?” he asks again. Over and over until I leave the stage feeling like my honesty is still too much for the crowd.
Ever feel that way?
Fear that you will never get it—can never get it—because once again, you’ve proven to be too much for a space where you just want to fit in?
But those are just triggers… not-truths… and thank God I have learned how to handle the former and lean into the latter so that I could take the stage again last Tuesday, peeling back the layers of my “I’ve gotta get it right” until I find “I want it to be real.”
Because that’s when the magic happened.
When made-up characters became real people for just a fraction of time, yet long enough to make people laugh and make them draw breath.
Which doesn’t make me an expert. This girl still has miles and miles to go.
But here are a few things the first few improv classes have taught/reminded me about the art of writing:
1. Leave the ego at the door.
Whether we think we’re the greatest writer on the planet or one whose words should never be read, neither belief actually helps the writing. So leave it when you enter that holy space of creation.
2. Instead of reaching for wit, search for truth.
We need not bother proving we’re smart—either the reader will think that or they won’t and neither is any of our business. Instead, let us shift our focus to being honest… being real. Let us show humanity reflected through our characters in ways that make the readers laugh and maybe even gasp. Which doesn’t coming from forcing wit, but from unveiling truth.
3. Master the basics before trying to paint like the masters.
I loved how our teacher described it… He said we must learn to create the bowl with clear, still water that can reflect back to the audience before we can add ripples and color. Ripples and color before you have the bowl only makes a bigger mess. I believe the same is true in writing. We must master the foundations before we try to break the rules. Otherwise, we’re just making a mess.
4. Stop waiting for permission.
No one is going to point at us and say, “Now it’s your turn, go ahead.” It’s up to us to understand our timing, our skill, our desires, our will. Life and writing is a beautiful dance that can only be learned when we participate. And, yes, that means getting it wrong and making mistakes. That also means creating moments of beauty and insight.
5. Have fun.
Always, always, always choose joy. Misery can always be part of the process, but it doesn’t have to be.
If you have a chance to take an improv class, I say do it. Especially if people scare you.
It may be a worst (or even the worst) thing you’ve ever done.
But it may also be a best—the reflection you needed to show you your way.
Loves & hugs,