The Improv methods and techniques of creativity that I’ve learnt specify taking the first idea that comes into one’s head and running with it. Working collaboratively with another improviser these are called “offers”. The other improviser gives you an idea and you accept their idea and expand on it. We call it “Yes, And’ing”, yes I accept your offer, and I will expand on it, make it my own.
This post was inspired by a reader asking me a question. I took her “offer” and went, yes I’ll run with that (and add to it). It was literally the first comment I read when I woke up.
Our imaginations are more powerful than most people could possibly conceive. I often utterly impress myself with what comes out of my mouth or onto a page or art/design. Did I just create that, wow, no idea how I did it, but I did.
“Yes, and’ing” is one of a range of techniques used by improvisers to unlock this power. And again I’ll re-iterate, it’s super-duper powerful, awe-inspiring really. Direct line to god – perhaps, I’m not religious so couldn’t verify that one.
OFFERS – CREATING CREATIVITY
My reader has let me know they’ve been taking a break, and then :
“On a different note, being a writer, do you ever go through personal issues where you just don’t have it in you to write anything? If so, how do you deal with those times?”
Sometimes we need to rest. Could be that we’re tired, bored, stressed or sick. Best to rest at those times and not to force creativity. If one is working through strong emotions anger, grief, sadness, depression etc, possible it’s time to take time to work through those emotions privately rather than creating. It may be that external help may be needed for instance for depression, in which case seek out a professional.
I’ve often found after a good sleep that I’ll wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to create awesomeness all over again.
So get good rest, the body and mind do need it, often and regularly.
It also could be during these times that WE CAN be creative, so try and do a little, if it isn’t working, then stop and go back to rest. Or do something else instead. Don’t “force the funny” when you are not up to it. Just rest, take care of yourself, watch a movie and eat a pizza.
Also I’ve done a number of prompts that were designed to work with difficult emotions for instance “Fear” and “Insult” for instance. My point is that sometimes I use my internal storms as an aid to my creative process NOT a hindrance.
Lastly – Your creative awesomeness has not left you permanently, just temporarily whilst you rest or work through other things, you may need your creative power for that instead anyway.
(This is my answer to my reader’s question)
(To “yes, and” my reader’s question – expanding on my own creative process)
I find that my imagination can be super active when I go out for a walk. Others might like to go the gym or a swim, whatever “floats your boat” really. My walk tends to be reasonably vigorous, and I’ve taken the time to load my top 1500 songs onto my iPhone, so generally my music is blaring.
Sometimes, well often in fact, I just step outside the front door, and the stagnation and boredom just fall away. I think some people call this “being pumped”, although never quite got on with that expression. All I know is that I FEEL GOOD.
I can “be in” my imagination, I can build cities or plan a piece of writing in great detail. It’s a virtually effortless process, although I do have to “steer” or otherwise I’d just be imagining myself as Hugh Hefner, and well, after one’s done that 99 times or so, it’s not as much fun.
If I have a busy day on the blog I’ll be looking at what “offers” I’ve had within myself, or maybe my surrounding give me. A lot of my prompts come from things that I’ve experienced myself directly that day. I plan a little how I will write it out. Same with opinion posts. Same with everything on my blog.
That doesn’t mean to say it’s fully written in my imagination, still have to do that when I get home. But the ideas are formed and grown in my imagination first like this.
Ever seen “Iron Man”, when he has all those screens and his talking computer. It’s akin to that when I’m out walking, not exactly the same and no I didn’t get the idea from the movie, but it’s a good analogy to explain what I mean.
I read once somewhere “motion creates emotion” …
ACTUALLY CREATING FROM IMAGINATION
So let’s take my ideas from my walk. I really need to start work on them right away – sometimes they can fade quickly. So I sit down and start with whichever I idea I want first. I’ve put a couple of ideas together in my imagination. For example’s sake let’s call it “Being An Individual”, a short piece of writing with pictures.
I choose to look for photos first (could easily do it the other way around). Go to stock library (morgueFile is free), I search for “individual” or “alone” or similar words. I come across a photo – black and white with one red strawberry. Bang, job done.
For the writing I’ve got it semi-planned already “in my head”, I’ve worked the concepts in my imagination already. Best personally for me is in WordPress editor, open that, start writing the ideas down, not concentrating on order, sequence, headings etc, FORGET STRUCTURE focus on the content. I just write and write until you have no ideas left. Then it’s partially done, I put the structure in move bits around, correct typos, add pictures.
I DON’T PLAN TOO MUCH IN THE INITIAL WRITING PHASE, GETTING THE IDEAS DOWN IS CRUCIAL, I DO THAT FIRST
Then refine, refine, refine. Add forgotten ideas in, expand on ideas which one didn’t do so well with first time round. I keep polishing and smoothing my creations until they are GOOD ENOUGH. Perfection is a high ideal, and generally I don’t reckon we need to get there. Just be pretty good, is good enough.
Higher standards come easily with repitition and practice anyway, so be patient and keep doing what works.
Now I have a little written piece “Being An Individual”, with a photo of a solitary red strawberry amongst the black and white ones. Publish or print out and frame. Perhaps it’s a short story for a book, in which case file with my others.
OVERCOMING INTERNAL OBJECTIONS
Sometimes I need to push myself past my own “complaints” – “I don’t feel like going for a walk today” or “I’m bored/tired I’m not really enjoying it”.
I use caution with these. I will push myself (quite often) past my own complaints. But sometimes the complaints are VALID, sometimes it means I need to eat, rest or do something else in order to look after myself. I don’t go by the PUSH PUSH PUSH too much, for this reason :
TO MUCH PUSHING when I REALLY REALLY don’t want to do something, can create an internal block. This block may mean that in future I don’t want to do the same thing, with even stronger internal complaints coming up. OR I just won’t get the idea to do it again. This is a harmful aspect of pushing oneself TOO HARD/TOO MUCH.
Also there’s a potential for “burn out”, creatives that push themselves too long and too hard, can become burnt out. This can mean days of being very low on energy and not being able to do anything. So whilst it’s fun and enjoyable to create, we need to bear in mind to try to incorporate routine, regular rest etc.. BASIC SELF-CARE is a must.
So largely I trust my “instincts” about when to do things and when not. Sometimes I do have to PUSH myself hard to do something, but I tend to save that for when it’s more a matter of life and death than a piece of creative writing or art or design. For instance – if in 8 hours I need to be at the airport for a flight, I have 6 hours of packing left to do and a 2 hour journey, but I really want to sleep. Then I’ll do the packing, and get myself ready for the flight, not sleep. Relax a little bit on the journey, try and sleep on the flight.
The bottom line I think is sometimes we need to push ourselves to light the touch paper of passion. Other times we need to leave the touch paper alone and do ordinary normal stuff. The ordinary normal stuff supports our creative activities, they don’t exist separately. Balance, or as best balance one can achieve, no one’s perfect !
I’ve learn’t my own creative process borrowing ideas from many places. I’ve found a real gold mine for writers, artists, performers, bloggers is in the Improv techniques that are used by actors and comedians. These techniques are very accessible, and I like them because they are child’s play simple. No University degree needed, “Yes, and” being something anyone can learn in 10 seconds flat. Closest thing to a magic pill? – yes in my mind, Improv is a magic pill for creatives, writers especially should be looking at these techniques.
I think the Improv techniques are applicable TO ALL CREATIVE DISCIPLINES.
OR do you want to sit in front of your blank page for months, after your lengthy University education and call it “writers block” … up to you really, I’d rather take the magic pill if there is one, which as indicated there is.
LIFE AND OUR IMAGINATIONS GIVE US CREATIVE OFFERS CONTINUOUSLY, *ALL-THE-TIME* – ACCEPT THOSE OFFERS AND FORGET WRITERS BLOCK
That’s my take … 1600+ words generate from one offer 🙂
PS (William Shakespeare is my “celeb” name for this post … for fun you may think up a tenuous connection if you like, please keep it clean and respectful, otherwise I may not be able to post)
Resources & Sources
Questions Marks – all-free-download.com
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