Mind Blown

There is a student in the Funny Bones intro class who is extremely nervous. This person is hysterically funny but can’t see it, and is always wanting to just watch because they “can’t do it” or will “mess it up”. I was trying to encourage them to play the other night and said something like, “You can’t mess it up. No matter what happens we’ll make it work. We’ll take care of you.”

Brain explosion.


That is basically the exact thing every improv teacher I’ve ever had has said to me at some point.

  • Relax
  • It’s fine
  • You’re fine
  • It’ll work out
  • Your class has your back

I never believed them any more than this person believed me last night. This person sat to the side and held themselves tightly and gave me scared rabbit eyes. Which made me feel a little sad for them.

Is this the way my teachers have felt about me when I’ve been freaking out?

I have this frame of reference now where I can see all the stuff they’re worried about and I can see how it’s not actually a big deal. I know that, yeah, OK, sometimes it’s going to be rough. Maybe really rough. This will probably not be the best improv ever done. But it will be fine, and sometimes brilliant. It’s going to be OK, but they can’t see that because of being right in the middle of it and being terrified half to death.

So, like I said, mind blown. I’ve only been doing this for two years but I can see from here that the things this person, five or so weeks in, is worried about are not things to be worried about. If they would relax it would be a lot more fun for them, and it would lead to better scenes.

Hello? Anna, are you listening? How is it that I never put that together until now? I’ve never felt like it was true, it always seemed to me that when teachers or experienced players would say “You’re doing fine, it’s good” it was overly optimistic, or just plain patronizing. No, it’s not. I can clearly tell that it’s crap.

Now I’m seeing it from the other side. When I say, “You’re fine” I don’t mean the improv being done is the best it’ll ever be, or the best ever in history. It’s just, it really is fine. They’re right where they should be, and none of us are thinking they’re behind or whatever, even though they do.

As soon as I said those words I had to stop and think about it. Hit me that hard, right between my improv eyes. Perspective is amazing. I want to take this revelation with me, somehow. But I don’t know how to remember that in the moment. How can I hold onto this knowledge that right now feels so intense and useful?

Being Brave

The group I just started volunteering with, Funny Bones Improv, is holding a training class for people who want to volunteer, regardless of prior improv experience. It’s ten weeks long and folks can learn the basics of improv, the games we play, watch some of the shows, etc. and then start performing. Those of us who are already members are invited to come to the classes and participate, something I went to for the first time last night. It sounded like a great opportunity to get to know the new players, brush up on/learn games (since I’m really new and don’t know them all yet), and to just get in more improv time.

Some of the folks have acting, or even improv, experience. A few have none at all. So despite the fact I’ve only been doing this for a month, and improv for less than two years, one of them started asking me all these questions about improv and tips for games, wanting my experience. Being in this place of playing with people who see me as experienced, who are looking to me to lead the way and go first and be the brave one is such a weird feeling. I wanted to say, can’t you see I’m a fraud? I don’t know what I’m doing either.

I still feel so clumsy and slow and awkward when I’m on stage, almost all the time. If I’m with peers, or, heaven forbid, more experienced players, I tend to lock up and get nervous and feel like everything I’m doing is completely wrong. More than once I’ve gotten the note- “You didn’t speak”.

Yet, unexpectedly, last night was freeing. I was more brave. I did do more characters and space work. I did screw up more. It was really rather fun. Not that I was trying to be sloppy, I just enjoyed myself and when I messed up or got bumped out of a game it was great because now someone else got a turn.

For example- I caught myself talking in the first person some during Narrated Story last night, something I remember being told to do at ComedySportz in a similar game. I don’t think I ever did it there because I was too busy freaking out over all the things I was probably forgetting to do, worrying that I wasn’t telling the story right, and obsessing over the fact that my accent would be wrong and I’d probably change halfway through and ruin the entire thing.

Here’s a secret I learned- It’s fun. It’s goofy. And it helped the story to boot.

And as soon as I did it (in our 2nd try at the game) my classmates started doing it too. Suddenly they had permission. All night this happened. I did an accent, they did accents. I talked in the first person, they started talking in the first person. I mimed petting the lion or holding a box, they mimed holding things. It was an odd feeling. It also made me want to do more, try more, so they would too. To push my comfort zone so they would push theirs.

One night in a level one class and I have buckets of new insights into my play. I absolutely did not expect that.

Recap: Week One

I’m going to write a blog post every Tuesday night with a recap of my writing totals for the past week, as a way of keeping myself accountable. I’m also going to keep a running total on my “1,000,000” page at the top, which is not yet operational. Soon, my sweets.

This week was a rough start to the year. Getting back into the groove of writing again was harder than I had anticipated, and I fell behind. Not where I wanted to be 1 week into 52. However, I’m certain I’ll get caught back up this week.


Here’s what I did this week, across 4 categories–

Blog 254

Journal 1,860

Midterms* 11,696

Raising Trouble** 248

Total 14,058

YTD 14,058

Where I should be 17,290


*Midterms is a short story that I am turning into a novella. My goal is to have it ready to go on Amazon by June. It’s a test project, the short story got some great feedback but lengthening it has been tougher than I’d thought it would be.

**Raising Trouble is my novel I wrote this past Nov-Jan. It’s in it’s 3rd round of editing so the word totals are not going to be very high. Time-consuming, but not really helping me on my quest. It’s the 2nd novel I’ve written, but the first I’ve tried to publish. My goal is to self-publish it late summer/fall of this year. Depends on how the editing process goes, I’m learning along the way on this one.


(via StoryPeople)

Starting today, March 20th, 2013, I am on a quest to write 1,000,000 words in 1 year.

Let’s allow that to sink in.

That is like doing NaNoWriMo 20 times in 12 months.

I didn’t say it was smart.

I didn’t come up with the idea, I found it through a link on Twitter. There is a group of writers who are each writing 1,000,000 words in 2013. I immediately saw the value but I was already about 80,000 words behind and that seemed like a rather large handicap to start off with on something that is already insanely impossible. Still, I couldn’t get it out of my mind.

My mom’s first reaction when I mentioned it to her in passing, with no intention of doing it, was “You don’t have time.” To which I answered, “I know.”

Then I go started thinking. She is right, I don’t have time. I’m working, taking a medical transcription course, moving this summer, going to Chicago for 5+ weeks this summer, helping my sister with her wedding, taking improv classes, making stuff to sell on Etsy, and trying to start running. I don’t have time to write that much. I really don’t.

Which means that if I don’t do this I won’t write that much. Maybe not much at all. A book or two, maybe a spec script. And at the end of next winter I will still be years away from from my goal of writing for a living. If I do not make time, even where there is no time, then it won’t happen. That frightens me more than sleep deprivation and carpal tunnel.

To do this it comes out to 2,740 words per day. I found doing NaNo this past year that I can write about 1,000-1,500 words an hour, on average. (When I focus and don’t let myself stop, which is another issue entirely). That equals 14-21 hours a week. I’m going with the assumption of 21, though hopefully that will drop as I go along. That felt insane until I realized that if I was taking 16 hours at school I’d undoubtedly spend more than 5 hours a week doing homework. Writing 1,000,000 words will get me far closer to my goals in life than sitting in a classroom will, this I know for sure.

I picked March 20th because it is the first day of spring. A season of growth, of new starts, of beginnings. A good time to start a project.

Following the general rules of the people I took this idea from the following writing will count toward my total-

  • Books
  • Articles
  • Short Stories
  • Blog Posts
  • Scripts
  • Letters
  • Journaling
  • Words Added in Editing

These things will not count-

  • Status Updates
  • Tweets
  • Texts
  • Notes
  • “Here’s my address”-type Emails

I’ll keep a weekly running total here, so everyone can see what I’m writing and how much.

Anybody wanna join me?

So, I printed a book tonight

Tonight I printed out my book, working title is Temps, at Office Max. When the man helping me walked over I thought he had picked up a ream of paper to refill the machine. Then he sat it down in front of me and asked for my money. I stared at him, deer in the headlights.


     My naive idea that it wouldn’t be too hard to do this thing was destroyed tonight. I knew it would be a lot of pages. I didn’t know it would be stack heavy enough to kill someone if I drop it on their head.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 992 other followers

%d bloggers like this: