Our No-vember theme calls to mind my journey to becoming a writer and how not saying no helped me along the way. I began my career as a professional actor at the age of six with a guest star role on the Mod Squad. I went on to work on television shows and films including five years on the daytime soap opera Days of Our Lives. Growing up in the film industry, I heard no far more often than I heard yes. Auditioning is the most difficult part of being a professional actor—and I can still remember the acting jobs I really wanted—and didn’t get. When I discovered my passion for writing and telling stories, I found great freedom. Suddenly, I didn’t have to hear the word no. For as writers, we push our creative boundaries—and say yes far more often than we say no. We can write whatever we want to write, and we can make our own rules. Once we begin submitting to agents and editors, of course, we will experience rejection—that is the unfortunate part of the profession. But we don’t have to wait for the next audition in order to try again. All we have to do is pick up a pen or sit down at the computer. There is a whole world we can explore and the most important thing we can do is try. I spent many years studying the craft of acting, and many lessons I learned have helped me as a writer. One lesson I would like to share with you today I learned at The Groundlings. The Groundlings is an improvisational theater company in Hollywood. There is really only one rule to improv. And you learn this rule the first day of your first class. Never say no. When you are in a scene and the other person is creating an imaginary character or world, you can change it and make it something else, but you cannot negate it. Saying no stops the flow of the creativity and negates the importance of everything that came before that one small word. No. Today, I challenge all of us to remember when we are writing that is the yes that moves us forward and the yes that makes our imaginations take flight. I hope you will say yes today.
|This is a publicity photo from Hot Lead and Cold Feet. I am in the middle. |
Next to me: Michael Sharrett, Jim Dale and Karen Valentine.