Get it into your body

I’m learning to play guitar. It is a tough, slow process. If I have a new chord to learn, it takes a lot of repetitions before that chord becomes second nature. I have to practice that shape with my fingers many times. I have to practice changing from chords that I already know to the chord I’m learning. The goal is to play that chord as quickly and as easily as I might say a phrase or sing a melody. But it doesn’t come with one lesson or with one or two practice sessions. It takes many sessions over many days and weeks and sometimes months for me to learn to play a chord with that kind of ease.

Sometimes I think we expect improv to work differently. Continue reading “Get it into your body”

Better

So I have moved back to Chicago. I’m renting a nice one bedroom condo. It’s definitely the nicest apartment I’ve ever had. It has central air and a washer/dryer in the unit. I feel almost spoiled now. I think it would be hard to go back to most of the closets I rented in Chicago and New York.

You might ask, why am I here? I’m here to get better. I feel out of shape as a performer. As an actor, I never really nailed down any particular process. I’d get a script, memorize it, go to rehearsal, try to absorb the blocking and direction, and try to figure out the best way to say my lines. It’s not a great process and it doesn’t seem to take advantage of all that early training which encouraged me to work off my partner. So the first priority was to find a studio, go back to class and figure out a process–a real process that starts with a script and ends with a full, dynamic, grounded and improvisational performance.

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Checklists, podcasting, blogging and an app

I have recently began using checklists for things like podcasting, blogging, working out and rehearsing. I think checklists really begin to shine when you use them to walk you through a process you do over and over again. A checklist helps me eliminate mistakes, keeps me focused on only the task I’m currently doing, and raises the quality of my work overall. It also provides me with a method to review my work and improve every time I do a podcast, by translating what I learn into new steps.

I’ve never been the most organized person. I can be passionate, dedicated and sometimes obsessive about the things I love doing, but organization doesn’t come naturally to me. One thing I’ve tried before is little “To Do” lists, but it’s not something I’ve done often or methodically. Recently that has changed.

I first started thinking about this because of Checklist Manifesto, a book by Atul Gawande. I have not read the book yet, but I’ve heard several interviews of him. The book is about how checklists for complicated procedures help minimize mistakes and save lives. He is a surgeon and he has seen how a simple checklist for a surgical procedure can dramatically reduce the number of complications. I don’t do anything as grave as surgery, but there are a lot of things I want to accomplish each day. I thought checklists might help and started using them.

My first checklist was a weekly one. Continue reading “Checklists, podcasting, blogging and an app”

A quiet week on the blog

It’s been a quiet week for me on the blog, but a lot of things are bubbling just under the surface. I’ve been working on a number of posts, but they aren’t quite ready. I’m working on a new audio clip that I hope to make into a limited series of podcasts. I have a couple of different versions of follow ups to my Dale Carnegie post. And I’m working on a post about improv podcasts. I’m trying to finish another book on diet and it’s giving me a new idea about how I could be losing weight, which I may eventually write about.

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Running and personal checklists

I wonder how many people out there keep personal daily checklists. I’m thinking of developing one. There are quite a few things I’d like to do on a daily or weekly basis. I tend to be someone who likes seeing progress in some chartable form and this ability to chart progress definitely motivates me.

For instance, I have long wanted to be a runner. I have many times started exercise programs and incorporated running or walking into the program. Last winter, when I was working out at the gym I realized that I especially like walking or running for long distances. Once I was on the treadmill, I preferred going for 45 minutes rather than just doing 20 and being done with it. But what I really wanted was to run and walk longer distances outside. I tried a few times to run outdoors in winter and I couldn’t stand it. The cold was simply too much.

Later in the summer, I decided once again to give it a try. This time I was walking and running outside and I was enjoying it, but what really got me hooked I think was when I started using Nike+ with my iPod. To use it, you need a small chip which you put in your shoe (or put inside a little pouch that attaches to your shoelaces). The chip acts like a pedometer, transmitting a signal, presumably whenever you take a step. You have several choices for a receiver to keep track of your progress. iPod Touches and iPhones have an app built into it that you can use to track your runs. You can also buy an attachment for other iPods or you can buy a separate bracelet to track your runs.

Continue reading “Running and personal checklists”