"Goodbye writer's block, hello brain" - Elaine, Dublin

After over a decade of performing improvised comedy, teaching it to musical theater students, and using it in much of my corporate training (back when I was a corporate trainer), I now offer an improv workshop for writers.

The beauty of improv is that it gives us exercises for overcoming our fears and finding our natural mental flow, which, for writers, means that we stop second-guessing ourselves, develop our confidence, and give writer’s block a sound kick in the patootie. Many people are intimidated by the idea of being asked to improvise, fearing that they will seize up on the spot. But that's precisely the point of this workshop. It's designed with an understanding of how hard it is to be open to surprises, and encourages participants towards seeing them as wonderful opportunities. They can then apply that newfound openness and enthusiasm to their writing.

Alison gradually eases you into a state of play and experimentation, creating a safe environment which is supportive and freeing. Left feeling rejuvenated. - Sara Bailey, Program Leader, Creative Writing, University of the Highlands and Islands

I came to the workshop a little shy and nervous but was made to feel very welcomed, found my shyness melting away, started to enjoy myself and learned some great techniques - Sharon, Orkney

   Participants are never asked to improvise alone. Most of the exercises are done in small groups or pairs, and although the goal isn't to be funny, there's always a lot of laughter.

Participants are never asked to improvise alone. Most of the exercises are done in small groups or pairs, and although the goal isn't to be funny, there's always a lot of laughter.

   Listening is the number one rule of improvisation. whatever gets in the way of listening gets in the way of one's ability to be supportive of an idea, and to offer one's own idea in return.

Listening is the number one rule of improvisation. whatever gets in the way of listening gets in the way of one's ability to be supportive of an idea, and to offer one's own idea in return.

The Approach

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The workshop is best as a full- or half-day event, allowing for time spent practicing the improvisation techniques and developing the positive mindset they encourage, and also time spent applying the learning in writing exercises. It can, however, be tailored to fit shorter timespans. 

The fundamental rules of improv are Listen, Accept, Support and Offer, in that order. The exercises I use in the workshop come from the huge bank of exercises improvisers and other actors employ to develop their mental agility and creative ideas. With each exercise I teach, I show participants how practicing the skills it offers shows them where they may be holding themselves back, and how they can learn to trust the ideas - either from their own brains or the brains of others - that catch them off guard. How willing are they to use the ideas that their improv partners throw at them? How willing are they to admit to the first idea that comes into their heads, rather than second-guessing themselves? It's absolutely fascinating to see how quickly people start recognizing forms of resistance to improv ideas that mirror the ways they limit their writing. People leave the workshop feeling they have found a way to motivate themselves out of old habits.

This was an amazingly freeing and empowering experience, and has really helped me feel grounded in my creativity, and has banished so much self-doubt. - Shyami, Dublin

Alison is really energizing, and the workshop is tremendous fun. Got some really helpful tools for letting go in my writing, and got an enjoyable first taste of improv. - Mike, Dublin

   Each workshop begins with introductory exercises and discussion in order to develop warmth among the group and an understanding of the workshop fundamentals.

Each workshop begins with introductory exercises and discussion in order to develop warmth among the group and an understanding of the workshop fundamentals.

   People often feel that they are great at coming up with titles and characters, and then get stuck. improv for writers makes sure that they leave the experience with confidence in their ability to get a story really rolling.

People often feel that they are great at coming up with titles and characters, and then get stuck. improv for writers makes sure that they leave the experience with confidence in their ability to get a story really rolling.

Choosing this Workshop

Improv for Writers sits very nicely among other workshops being held at writing festivals, as you can see from the lovely feedback it has received so far:

"Alison's Improv for Writers workshop was a fantastic addition to our festival programme. Feedback from participants was resoundingly positive and we hope to welcome her back to Dublin very soon." - Joey Kavanagh, Marketing & Communications, Dublin International Literature Festival

"I would have no hesitation in having Alison back to run a similar session next year." - Tom Bromley, Festival Director, Salisbury Literary Festival

It can also be a helpful addition to a writing retreat, either as a half- or full-day workshop at the beginning, or broken up into shorter sessions as a daily mind-setting exercise.

If you are interested in running Improv for Writers, please get in touch!