From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Friday, February 19, 2010

Creative Writing: Improv to Improve

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?

Sarah Allen


  1. Very interesting reading, I had not thought of that; what I do is while I am sitting watching the television or whatever I may be doing is keep a pen and paper handy. If even hear one word that inspires me I write it down. And then I can write a blog about it. Thank.

  2. I will definitely have to try this. I've heard that when your wip is stuck, drop an elephant out of the air. That sounds similar. I'm at a point in one of my wip's I need to improv or drop that elephant out of a plane into the midst of my story.

    Thanks for the idea. :)

  3. Yeah, improv is a blast, but also creatively beneficial. Thanks for your comments, and I hope you can find some use in doing improv.


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