improv(e)

I read an article by Leigh Anne Jasheway with suggestions on how to improve creative writing using some improv activities. In it, she laid out some ground rules before getting started. After reading the rules, I realized, hey, these could apply pretty well to getting started with any creative project. 

Instead of exercises, she prefers to call them games, because they’re meant to be fun, not work, to get your brain thinking. 

  • There is no wrong way to play. And you can’t fail—so there’s no reason not to jump in and just see what happens.
  • Don’t wait until you have a great idea to move forward. Move forward and great ideas will come. Creativity is like a rusty spigot; you have to turn it on and let the gunk run through the pipes in order for the clean water to eventually pour out.
  • Nothing is too silly to try. As the scriptwriter Beth Brandon said, “Opening your imagination to the ridiculous opens your mind to what you’re not otherwise seeing. In other words, it makes room for the genius to come through.”
  • Whatever happens, explore without judgment. Improv is all about shutting down your inner critic and not measuring your work against anyone else’s (including your own previous writing). Yes, you’ll end up taking some side trips, but who knows what you might discover along the way.

Creative exercises (or, if you prefer, games) can be a great way to not only come up with some fresh ideas, but also to explore avenues you hadn’t yet dreamed of. They can help you refine your work before exposing it to the light of day, as I wrote about earlier. They offer a safe place, free of judgement, in which to explore and discover something wonderful before you share it with the rest of us. Then again, they can be just as fun to do in groups and laugh at the results. Don’t believe me, try a mad-lib or two with some friends and you’ll see.

 

Hey Creatives, do you have a favorite creative exercise? Let us know in the comments below.

A.P. Lambert

A.P. Lambert is a creative professional who helps others live with creativity and purpose.