How to dare to improvise in writing?

Paradoxically, the art of improvising cannot be improvised! There is a prerequisite: to be able to stimulate your imagination enough to be able to improvise. And to do that, it requires training as the preliminary steps.

The writing, in improvisation, is instantaneous, which does not mean that it is sloppy, illogical or unpredictable. Improvising means putting more effort into staying focused in order to create your story and keep it coherent and interesting.

L ‘impromptu writing is often practiced in workshops on improvised theater practice. But, it can also be practiced in a writing workshop. How to create a Wikipedia page it is one of the possible forms of practice to quickly stimulate the imagination of the participants, without thinking too much.

Write an epoch

Epoch” is a term of Greek origin meaning ‘stop, interruption, cessation’. In Stoicism philosophy, this word denotes the suspension of judgment. One abstains from any comment, from any unfavorable judgment. We gain self-confidence.

Fear of the judgment of others keeps many people from writing. We’ve all been afraid of being ridiculous, of not being able to write a story. Starting with me! It took me a while to get past my negative and mistaken judgments about myself along with my bogus apologies to start writing.

Writing can help overcome this obstacle!

Because creating allows us to free ourselves from our psychological barriers. Inventing is a natural impulse. What pleasure we can feel when we create characters and that we make them evolve according to our desires like puppets!

Bernard Weber, in one of his formations, proposes to stand in front of a sheet of paper and write what one wants, in a place at will, without thinking or ordering his ideas, for 5 minutes. It can be a story without a tail or a head. It doesn’t matter. Or personal reflections. So much the better. You will see what you will be able to write in just a few minutes! This is not an exercise in style, do not try to produce literary effects!

I lent myself to the game and here is my text:

I am in my garden, it is my house. I read in my garden, I meditate, I do cross stitch, I collect my vegetables and my fruits, I take my nap in my hammock in the shade of my birch. My garden is everything for me. It is in the countryside, at the foot of the fields and not far from the vines, which here are used to make cognac.

It is lined with grass, not sod. It is made up of many fruit trees, and benches arranged everywhere. It’s a good size, not imposing, but that’s enough for me. It gives me so much happiness, so many moments where I can recharge my batteries, in all seasons. My dog ​​often joins me on the hammock, the cats on the swing. They like comfort too. They like to feel me close to them. My dog ​​likes to run like a crazy little girl at full speed without losing breath; it’s his favorite game.

I could not do without this corner of greenery, simple, in my image. It makes me breathe and live!

Improvise from a situation

To practice writing by improvising – that is to say without building a story beforehand – here is a situation: write around the opening of a door.

Try to imagine in 2 minutes a context mentally, without writing anything: ‘maybe it is the middle of the night? I am poorly awake, in my pajamas, bare feet and unkempt hair. I am worried about the noise I heard and what to expect. The obstacles to the situation for which I got up: my desire to find my bed warm and cozy, my struggle to avoid falling asleep on my feet again. ‘

In fact, very quickly you have to imagine the circumstances and the obstacles in the situation. Without preparation, you write in 15 minutes. The improvisation written requires a short time, a rapid pace, without working the text at the end of the allotted time.

Here is my text:

I slept well, in the middle of a dream of blue sea and tropical vacations. I was too tired to think of anything else. As I was bathing in the translucent water, I heard a squeak, more specifically, I heard the hallway door squeak. Unusual noise in the middle of the night. Why had the door opened when I was still closing it to prevent my cat from squatting in the rooms served by this corridor?

My first reaction was to take refuge entirely under the duvet, warm, to plunge back into my turquoise waters. The noise resumed. Fear seized me, anguish gripped me, and I started to tremble. I made a superhuman effort to slip out of my bed, barefoot, unkempt hair. As if it mattered in the middle of the night? It was silly to think of such details, I was not going to walk on a podium!

As a precaution, to scare the thief away, I took my headlamp, which is always on my bedside table in the event of a power failure. I turned it on with sweaty fingers, and slowly opened the door to my bedroom, trembling under the canvas of my pajamas. I looked around. Nothing. I wanted to rejoin the softness of my bed, to fall back into a restful sleep. I struggled with all my might to figure out what the hell had happened, but my brain was clouded over from the wake-up call. 

I was there in my thoughts when I saw my cat Trumpet come out of his hiding place, very happy to see me, thinking that it was time for the morning kibble. He had opened the door, as happened to him from time to time. I shouted at him, not too kind to him for having disturbed my sleep. My night was over anyway.

The principle of such an exercise like the previous one is that by dint of playing with hypotheses and situations, your brain will get used to creating associations of ideas and acquiring a certain number of automatisms. Thus, you get used to mobilizing adequate resources for an intellectual construction in order to write.

Adopt the Laswell method

Harold Dwight Laswell, American researcher of the twentieth century, was a pioneer in disciplinary fields such as sociology or psychology, among others.

Harold Laswell developed a method that could replace individual intuition in the field of mass communications analysis. His method has since been taught in many schools around the world to study texts.

This method, also well known to journalists, is useful when communicating broad information – for example, sharing information on a case, having dinner with a client – but it is also useful in writing.

It consists of answering the following questions:

  • Who?
  • What?
  • Or?
  • When?
  • Why?
  • How? ‘Or’ What?

This writing tip still works and can help at any point in a story you make up.

For improvisational writing, these questions help advance a very short narrative. Start from a situation, lean 15 minutes to answer the questions.

Here is my text:

Melanie went out in the rain, in the middle of the night, thinking about how to make profitable the money she had just won at poker in a casino in Las Vegas. While thinking about her future and while waiting for the taxi that would bring her back to her hotel, Melanie thought about her painful childhood, the complicated divorce of her parents and the abandonment of her father. 

Once she arrived safely at her hotel after a chaotic traffic in the maze of countless streets in the capital of the game, she did not want to sleep. In her purse was the check for two million dollars that she had won. 

Within minutes, she had become rich, as she never would have thought. Millionaire! No more work as a librarian, too routine for her taste, for which she sweated, all to earn a minimum wage. Oh no, for sure, she wouldn’t go back to that damn building where everyone gossiped all day long, passing judgment on everyone they encountered during the day. Rotten mentality! Instead, she would afford an apartment with a sea view in the south of France, a housekeeper, a cook. La dolce vita in perspective! And she would travel nonstop. It was her dream, she had never been able to satisfy it, for lack of means. She salivated at the bright future that opened up to her, like the vengeance of the difficult childhood she had suffered!

I invented this text respecting the time set, without any preparation. Not preparing anything in advance is an interesting challenge, which gives back the taste for writing, for those who, possibly, are tired of planning all their stories, or who help those who are afraid to start writing.

Sometimes the participants in a writing workshop are very motivated by this kind of practice. This allows you to accept all the ideas that come without thinking and without censorship. Any idea is good to take. Just insert it into your writing, like an embroidery thread, with delicacy. Wikipedia page creation service too much preparation doesn’t necessarily help and can sometimes slowly kill the imagination.

Writing while improvising also helps you realize that writing a story doesn’t have to be a complex process. Writing stories is basically an act of improvisation.

Each step of the writing is anyway an attempt to create a link between what is already told and what is born from the present writing session. By respecting the rules of improvisation, you open up the possibilities of your imagination and your creativity.

Improvise from a photo

I attended a writing workshop and I had to write by improvising a story in 15 minutes from the following photo taken by the photographer from La Rochelle, Marie Monteiro:

Here is my text:

Everyone goes to Morocco, expecting to find a blazing sun all year round. 

Me, I like to survey a country or a city in winter, when visitors desert the place and the temperatures drop. My little camera around my neck, that day, I decided to walk along a beach on the outskirts of Tangier. 

Tangier, in winter, does not really lend itself to daydreaming. I tracked down the improbable with my film. I was happy to stroll, alone, on this long strip of sand, breathing the spray of the Atlantic, the sound of the wind whispering in my ears.

When, suddenly, I was attracted by dance movements a few tens of meters in front of me. I imagined it was a dancer. I walked quietly and started a series of shots. A young man, all in black, swayed his hips, paying no attention to my presence.

His movements combined elegance and strength. It was simply beautiful and above all improbable: a young Moroccan was training on a variation of hip-hop on a deserted beach. 

A magical moment that I would keep in me for a long time after this winter getaway. 

Improvisations based on situations

I offer you situations from which you can imagine, in a fairly short period of time, a story.

Example 1:

The character decides to give up everything in his life. This leads him to meet a new community of people in which he discovers a darker part of himself. This pushes him to hit rock bottom. He then finds resources in himself that he did not imagine having and which allow him to bounce back. Once he has bounced back he goes home and lives a more peaceful life.

Example 2:

The character decides to give up everything in his life. But wouldn’t it be better for the character to take it upon himself and persevere? This encourages him to go through periods of doubt, even discouragement that will allow him to discover himself and find a solution to his existential crisis, without touching bottom like the character in example 1.

If you are not used to improvising, then there is no point in trying to write an overly ambitious novel. Practice short formats first, like the ones I offer in this post and all the other posts I’ve written about it on this blog. You can also, if your heart tells you, write from the writing proposals that I broadcast on Thursday and for which I leave nine days to compose.

You will understand, improvising offers more freedom, more leeway to develop your writing. I am sure this is a great way to unlock the creation buried within you. We all have within us the capacity to create, imagine and build.


Nancy Yates

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