Lately I find myself telling my students, “any time you find yourself using future tense or conditional tense in a scene, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Instead of talking about what is going to happen, just cut to that scene– just do the thing.”
And then I go home and think about how one of these days I really need to get back to tracking my calories, or I need to get my calendar cleaned up, or the office organized, or the front garden mulched. And then I watch an episode of Chopped, and then it’s bed time.
It’s become pretty trendy to talk about how improvising benefits your “real” life– you develop the skills of listening, agreeing, being in the moment, etc. I would like to add to that list the habit of just doing the thing. This is that split-second decision in which I find myself saying (aloud or internally) “One of these days I really need to…” and then I edit that scene. I do a real-life sweep edit and take myself right into whatever that scene is. I log into my calorie tracker. I take out my calendar. I dig into that big messy pile of papers. I spread the damn mulch.
One of the reasons we resist just doing the thing onstage is that we don’t know what lies on the other side of it. There’s safety in knowing that the big dishwasher ghost rap battle is out there in the future to be talked about and prepared for. But once that’s over, we’re in the unknown. Well, I don’t know about you, but my real life could benefit from a bit of the unknown. Just like onstage, real life is way more interesting, rewarding and surprising when I stop talking about the thing, and I just dig in and do it. -DL
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