Some things you just don’t want to say yes to like say passing out condoms in Easter eggs at your kids school, but other times? You do want to say yes.
Improvisational comedians and actors know that every time they go up on the stage with no script, they are vulnerable.
What if they just stand there and no ideas come?
It’s the same as writers looking at a blank page. Or podcasters staring at an empty sound file.
But with improvisers, they can ask the audience for ideas.
“Give me a noun,” they’ll say. “Something you eat. A musical song. An emotion.”
And the audience members shout things. The improv performers don’t say, “Um, gerbil? I don’t eat gerbil.”
They just say yes to the ideas thrown at them, and then they create something that’s almost always funny.
The secret to their success and to so many other people’s success is that they say yes when they aren’t quite ready to say yes, yet.
A long time ago, a classmate from my MFA program asked me to teach a six-month program mentoring writers. I didn’t think I could do it, and I had a bit of a panic, but I said yes, and that yes has spiraled into a six-figure career teaching, editing and coaching other writers.
I did every single thing I could to make sure that those writers were being served well and getting the help they need.
It was the same thing when I decided to stop being a newspaper editor and get an MFA in Writing from Vermont College. I sent in the application before I could allow myself to think about it. I said yes to the idea, and it was only after I sent in that application that I realized that Vermont was pretty much the Harvard of children’s writing programs. Whoops.
I panicked when I got on campus, overwhelmed by people, tried to leave, stuck it out and within a year had three books under contract.
But this podcast isn’t all about me. It’s about you. And maybe even Shaun.
You can always let your fears overwhelm you, be risk averse, be terrified of failure, of losing your life’s savings, of ending up living in a car. But you only have one big chance at this life and your dreams.
You have to say yes before you’re ready because you’ll never be ready.
Say yes to things that make you a tiny bit afraid.
Say yes to things people don’t expect you to do or be or care about.
Say yes to making new friends and exploring new places.
Say yes to pushing yourself a little or a lot beyond your expectations.
Don’t let anyone else define you. Only you get to define you, okay?
So define yourself as someone who explores, who lives, who says yes.
DOG TIP FOR LIFE
Say yes to playing with puppies. They need love, too.
The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License.
Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song? It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.
AND we have a writing tips podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW! It’s taking a bit of a hiatus, but there are a ton of tips over there.
We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and YouTube on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook. But she also has extra cool content focused on writing tips here.
Carrie is reading one of her raw poems every other week on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!