yes, and… is the first rule in improv. It's also the first rule in the life of a storyteller.
Every experience is fodder for the next story. You see a hippy walking a toy poodle? Great, that could be a story. Your mother calls and talks your ear off? That’s story fodder too. You accept life experiences, joyful or tragic, participant or observer, as opportunities for stories, even if you may never tell the obvious story in front of you. Maybe that toy poodle is really a magical servant. Maybe it’s a hallucination personified. Maybe the hippy is really a breeder of rare dogs. Maybe it was inherited from their just-deceased stock-broker son. You don’t know what the story really is, so you can make it up. It’s your story now.
Even if you don’t use the idea immediately, add it to your compost heap, a file somewhere that contains various ideas, phrases and inspirations for stories. Yes, and… also means that you’re willing to risk failing. If you work on a story that doesn’t go where you expected or you get stuck, it doesn’t mean it failed. It means you learned something new about your own process and maybe you should move onto a different story. This one will wait for you.
Frankly, yes, and… is a pretty nice rule to have for life in general. I try to go through the world saying yes, and... I encourage you to try it, too. Regardless of how you're using it, yes, and... will help. Working on a speech for your Rotary club? When someone asks a question try yes and... Stuck in a story? Try having someone say something outrageous about a character and respond with yes and... You get the idea.
So, here is a yes and... challenge for you. In the comments starting listing words that could go into a story that begin with Y. I'll start.
If you're an overachiever, make a sentence out of a wild y word and let someone else pick it up. It's a yes and... story.
And now it's your turn.
(c)2013 Laura S. Packer