I’ve been reading a book that is one of those that comes along at the right time. I was actually reading another book that came for me at the right time which was called The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. He recommended this book and I decided to look into it. I’m very glad I did. The book he recommended was Improv Wisdom: Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up by Patricia Ryan Madson. Curiously, at first glance, these books seem to be polar opposites. One is about getting tough and fighting all the negativity that surrounds creative endeavours. It is about getting past the barriers and becoming your true self.
Improv Wisdom is about staying there in the place that is free, the place that is you, the place that is imperfect, but highly adaptable and kind of remarkable. The miracle place. It isn’t logical. It isn’t the best, the highest, the most practiced place to be. But it is powerful because it is in the moment. And in that moment you can do incredible things, if you are really there.
What I found surprising and wonderful about this book is that I could apply it to my writing life. I have worked very hard on my fiction writing. One could argue that I may have worked too hard on it. But one day, I decided to just show up and write what wanted to come out of me, and that changed things. A less serious kind of writing came out. It was funny. It was joyful. I came easily. It didn’t feel like work, it felt like a trance. It was flying. I wrote one novella and then another and a third is prodding me.
Even when I went back to the ‘serious’ writing, I was able to see it differently. I still have to learn to relax my grip on it, but the edits are coming along better for having done the ‘other’ kind of writing.
Improv Wisdom has some great chapter headings and stories about what it means to do improv and how those principles can lead to fully living. I’d say they lead to fully writing too BECAUSE they do this. Living and writing are two sides of the same coin. Full living is what is underneath my writing, and my writing, for me, is essential to full living.
I even got very brave and decided to take a class in improv in my town. If something scares you a bit, it’s a good sign that you should do it. And this scared me quite a bit. But after just one class, wonderful things have happened. I enjoyed it a lot. It was another way of using my imagination and connecting with people. It was fun. I’m going to continue doing it. My fears, my imperfections, my limitations all seemed to just disappear and in place of all that was curiosity, learning, happiness, possibility.
So, if you want to try something interesting, try reading these two books and see what they might inspire you to do for your writing and living.