Yes, And/No, But….And Eureka!

So, a long time ago in a galaxy far away, I was required to take acting classes as part of my music school program. These classes were a godsend, and I think, looking back, I learned more from them (and my movement/Alexander classes) about music than I probably learned from my lessons (Kate Wilkinson, I don’t know where you are these days, but THANK YOU THANK YOU!).

One of the warm-up games we played in acting class was called “Yes, And/No, But”. It went like this: everybody partnered up. Then, we were given a scenario – say, do you want to go to the beach today? On the first run through of the scenario, we had to answer “No, But”. So, something like, “Do you want to go to the beach today? No, but how about we go to the park? No, but do you want to help me wash my car?” and so on. Then, we replayed the scenario using the answer “Yes, And”. So, “Do you want to go to the beach today? Yes, and while we’re there, we could go swimming! Yes, and after we do that, we could build sand castles!” The idea was to reinforce how “Yes, And” was conducive to building, and “No, But” was conducive to not much at all.

I mentioned this to a friend a few days ago in a discussion about how people work together, but what I didn’t really clue into until this morning is that I do the exact same thing to myself. Except, I seem to be completely in the “No, But” camp with my writing, and as a result, what I’ve got on my hands right now is a novel that’s completely fragmented and flimsy because I keep on saying “No” to myself. No, I can’t do that. So and so already did it. No, I can’t do that, it’s too dumb. No, I can’t do that, no one would believe it. No, I can’t do that, no no no no no no.

But, what if I said “yes” to myself? So, I did. I sat down and took some of the suggestions Ms. Agent gave me the other night and say, “So, what happens if I take this idea that I said no to a long time ago (not to Ms Agent, but to myself) and run with it?” And, hot damn, I was cookin’ with gas, I tell you. Things that I’ve known weren’t right suddenly fell into place, and all of sudden, I was winnowing out chaff and building something that feels much more right. Time will tell if this all holds, because who knows how this will translate into the story itself. But, that doesn’t matter right now. What matters is that “Yes, And,” will always bear more fruit than “No, But”, and it’s high time I applied some of what my teachers have passed on to me, because….yes. And.

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