The end of the year is a natural time to look back. Take a few moments to consider your journey of improvisation this year. Where did you improve? Where did you grow stale? Where’s your momentum right now?
Improvisers tend to be a lazy lot. We crave immediate results. Thinking in the moment will serve you well on stage, but not so well in your career.
Ask yourself where you’d like to be one year from now.
Now, ask yourself what it will take to get there.
Do you need a class? More stage time? What about an expansion of your acting skills? Should you audition more? Do you have headshots? Are you too immersed in improv? Do you need another hobby to open your thought processes?
It’s very easy to become stagnant in your growth. To be a great improviser, you need to consider yourself honestly. Since we rarely have a good lock on our skills, it will help to involve an outside opinion.
Seek out a teacher, mentor or coach. Ask him/her to list your strengths and weaknesses. Ask if you have a pattern of performance, and if a change to that will be helpful. Ask if there’s a role on your team that’s missing, and if you can be the person to fill that.
And if you’re really brave, ask your mentor to hold you accountable.
(You’ll want to avoid seeking this kind of input from your peers. It can set up a weird performance dynamic.)
Once you have the general course of your improv year set, give yourself a specific goal. Do you want to perform solo material? Do you want to put up a sketch show? What about a long-form play? Or a musical improv troupe? Is there someone you want to perform with? Do you want to direct? Do you want to make short films? What endeavor will fill you with joy and pride?
Make a commitment to complete that adventure. Tell your friends what you want to do. Give yourself a hard deadline to put it up. And break the process down to baby steps. What’s the smallest thing you can do today to get started? Do that. Keep making those baby steps and don’t fall through on your deadline. Recognize you will face hurdles and setbacks, but keep grinding away.
Make a conscious decision to complete at least one major project next year. All of this experience will propel you toward becoming the improviser you want to be.
What topics would you like me to cover in 2013? E-mail me at boilingpointimprov[at]gmail.com