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Best Creative Advice Ever From Mick Napier

Mick Napier is a brilliant improviser from the Annoyance Theater in Chicago. The quote below is from his book Improvise: Scene From the Inside Out. This advice is given in the context of what you should do in an improvised scene, but I love it as advice and a warning about what not to do with your life. Just replace the words "improv scene" with "your life."

For God’s sake, do something. Anything. Something. At the top of an improv scene, do something. Please, do it for yourself. Do yourself a favor and just do something.

You see, there’s this guy you know, nice enough fellow, and he’s always talking about what he’s going to do someday. He has big plans, and if he’s in The Business, then he talks about a screenplay he’s going to write or a thing he’s going to shoot on video or an idea he has for an improv form. If he’s not in the The Business then he talks about  what he’s gonna do at work or to his house or some scheme he has for this or that. He talks endlessly in great detail of the necessary steps he will take to someday execute his master plan for whatever he will do and speaks of all the rewards he will gain once he does his thing.

Maybe you know this guy for two or three years and begin to notice that he doesn’t really carry out anything he talks about doing. Perhaps you begin to label him as a "talker" or "full of it." Maybe as he speaks of his next scheme you begin to , "I wish this guy would stop talking about it and just do it."

And as time goes by, you see this guy at parties and notice that you doing a little bit to avoid him. When he catches you and engages you in conversation, you begin to observe that you are bored "someday I will do this" tirade. As a matter of fact, you start looking around the room at other people  kinda hoping that someone will rescue you from this person because you are so bored. There he is again talking about something he’s gonna do, and you know that it’s never going to happen and it bores the hell out of you as you have to listen to it again.

Two weeks later he catches you walking down the street and now, as he approaches, you actually get a little angry on the inside. You’re still nice but you feel as if your time is being wasted. You want nothing more than to release yourself from this guy that never does anything, but talks endlessly about what he’s going to do someday. You wish he would do something, anything, and just stop talking about it.

He goes on to make the point that this is how an audience feels watching a bad improv scene. But, isn’t this a good metaphor for the people that say they’re creative, but never create anything. It’s easy to create, the difficult part is to create something lasting. A writer must write. A painter must paint. An actor must act. If you are just talking about what you want to do, please, do something. Anything. Something. Don’t be that guy.

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