Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Improv Challenge

Improvisation isn’t just a great tool for actors. Everyone can benefit from it. Those engaged regularly in creative projects might benefit more quickly since they tend to be (sometimes) less restrictive in their thought processes, but everyone can see results from it. Improvisation lets the subconscious mind help you reach your goal. Another great thing about improvisation is that it doesn’t require big chunks of time.

Improvisation is a great way to help an author get started on a new novel, screenplay or short story, or work through blocks on a current work-in-progress, because you don’t need a plot, characters or setting. The Improv Challenge requires minimal preparation and time, and the payback can be huge. Again, you don’t need a writing project to benefit from The Improv Challenge. This can help you with any issue you’re working on in your life.

Here’s The Improv Challenge:

• Put a notepad, a dictionary and pencil next to your bed before retiring for the night. Find a well-sharpened pencil instead of a pen because if your pen is not functioning properly in the morning, it can hamper your session for that day.

• Upon waking in the morning, choose any three words which spring to mind. They can be any type of word, noun, verb, adjective, whatever. The more random the better, so pick the first three words that feel right, but if you need help getting started, open the dictionary at any point and quickly, without thinking, pick three words.

• Note the three words chosen and free write for ten minutes, no longer, using each of the three words at least one time. You may have a writing sample running anywhere from 100 to 200 words, but the word count doesn’t matter. Just write for ten minutes and include those three words at least once.

• The next morning, repeat the process and select three new words, or choose three words from the piece you’d written the previous day.

• You can review the written pieces at the end of each day, or wait a week before looking at them again.

• Repeat the process for a minimum of seven days.

You may not experience the “aha!” moment of clarity, instantly realizing the answer you seek, but don’t be surprised if you do get the answer you’re seeking this way. It does happen. Some answers come more subtly, in a method in which they just seem to slowly rise to the surface, as if being washed upon the shore of your mind.

You can do The Improv Challenge at any time of the day, but it’s best to do it first thing in the morning because the subconscious mind is more active with the body just having been asleep; the conscious mind has not yet had the opportunity to let doubt and criticism get in the way of the process. Try it for at least seven days and see what happens. Doing it for 21 days can make it a habit. I know some authors who have sold millions of copies of their books who utilize this process, or a variation of it, every day.

If you’re eager to try it, see what you can do right now with the words:

Profit, Desire, and Rejection.

Good luck!


Blogger Melissa Marsh said...

What a neat idea - but do you really have to do it in the morning? I'm afraid I am a horrible morning person and can barely get to work on time! I like the idea of just picking out three words and writing about them, though. I've written some great short stories from doing that.

3:45 PM  
Blogger Diana Celesky said...

Hey, Melissa

Anytime of day will work for The Improv Challenge, it's just that right after we wake up in the morning, our conscious mind is just beginning to run the show. That's the part of our brain that uses duality, good/bad, right/wrong, etc., and we're trying to tap into the subconscious mind, which is a LOT more open to receiving information and when it does, it doesn't judge it; it just presumes the literal truth of it. With the conscious mind a little more in the background, it’s often easier/quicker to get the information we need.

If you've got kids, if you work with any type of intuitive exercises, if you’ve ever stopped your car at a green light on a hunch and another car ran through the red light and would have hit you had you proceeded into the intersection, then you're used to working with the mind beyond the conscious level. In those cases, it's not so important that you work the exercise first thing in the morning. Of course, we all have this gift to tap into this extra source of information. Working with The Improv Challenge early in the day is suggested to help bridge the gap and get you comfortable with tuning in to this often untapped resource, but feel free to use it anytime.

Sometimes I give myself three words first thing in the morning, with the intent that my subconscious mind will work with it throughout the day, and often when I’m performing a mundane chore, the answer, or a clue to the answer I’m seeking will come to me seemingly out of nowhere. If you want to chart your progress, keep a mini-notebook in your briefcase or bag, and note when these breakthroughs happen. It’s inspiring to see how much the seemingly more latent parts of the mind help us when we let them.

Keep me posted on your progress!

5:39 AM  

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