I'm sitting on the couch watching 'Whose Line is it Anyway' laughing my head off. My high school English teacher, a large part of why I write, also taught an improv class that I took for a few semesters, and we spent a lot of time talking about the way improv can help and inspire artists and writers of all kinds, and I think its something useful and way fun to discuss.
Improv can generate ideas. When your story is stuck; when your characters need filling out; when dialogue isn't working right--improv can help. Improv can open you up to creative inspiration and calm down your internal editor. Improv can take your story in completely unexpected places or can fill out the spots that feel empty.
Take specific characters, lines, and plots that come out of an improv session and use them to generate or enhance your own work. Let yourself make crazy decisions in improv so you can see first-hand how creative risks can pay off big-time. Participating in improv can help you make connections and see things in completely new ways.
There are some ways to do solo-improv. Fill a jar with quotes and pull one out when you need inspiration. Listen to wordless music and make up your own words. Games like MadLibs may work.
That having been said, improv works best as a social activity. Have an improv party with some fun friends. Look up Whose Line episodes on YouTube (that can not only teach and inspire you, but its friggin hilarious). You may even want to go all out and research some improv groups in your area. Take an improv/acting class.
Most of all, have fun! Free your creativity and you will always surprise yourself.
Have any of you had experience with improv? What are your thoughts about how it can help inspire creative writing?