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  • Writer's pictureLauren Morris

Tips for when you get heady about improv

It's going to happen. You are going to get heady about your improv. What does heady even me?

I define it as being aware that an audience can impact how you perform, when you make a choice and feel it wasn't as strong as other choices you have made, and you just feel you aren't being creative or funny.

Being heady sucks.

Here's the thing, it happens to everyone. You can be a veteran and still going to have doubts. The difference is the first time you experience this it is intense and overwhelming, the 10,000 time though, you've got a handle on it. So what is happening?

I love the book by Seth Godin called, The Dip. I love it so much that I ask performers to read it. I tell our students about it and anyone else who will listen. Seth explores what happens when you learn or start something new. How there is this huge growth spurt and then you come across the dip. That's when everything goes downhill. This dip is when you have to decide to keep working through it and come out the other side or it's time to quit and move to something new.

If you want to stick with improv you are going to have to commit to being in the dip. It's the place where you do the work and the reps. Focus and commitment. Dedication and practice. Your learning is going to slow down because you now have a large tool belt and it's about learning to use those tools to the best of your ability versus adding new ones. At some point you might even question whether you can actually improvise. You can!

So what are some tips to get through this dip?

Reframe your approach-- you aren't bad, you are learning. This is all opportunity to grow not mistakes while you fail. Reframe and rephrase your internal dialogue.

Focus on the small success-- now that you have knowledge you need to find other ways to stay motivated. Focus on the small success. That could be as simple as saying, "I'm going to make sure I edit twice during this set." The little moves and victories begin to add up and pretty soon you have a lot to celebrate.

Commit-- Learn to recognize when you are in a dip and that there isn't a miracle fix to get through it. It's going to take time and commitment. Dedicating yourself to showing up to class (or retaking classes), putting your best foot forward in rehearsal, and doing what might feel like repetitive and mundane exercises. This is what gets you through.

Talk about it-- We tend to shut down and shut up when we are in the dip. We are judging ourselves and it doesn't feel good. As a result, we tend not to share what we are experiencing. Please share it! Talk to your teacher, your coach, a fellow performer, or even a student. Chances are they have experienced it themselves and would like to know they too aren't alone. They might even have some ideas for how to work through the process. All of this becomes a lot less scary when we shine a light on it. Please, share!

Finally, go to your local library or bookstore and read The Dip!

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