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Confessions of a Seasoned Scrapbooker turned Improv Student

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Scrapbooking Confession #1:  I go into my scrapbooking room and surf the internet for scrapbooking inspiration instead of actually scrapbooking.

Scrapbooking Confession #2:  I still scraplift after over 10 years of scrapbooking.

Scrapbooking Confession #3:  My inner critic sometimes prevents me from putting my authentic self down in my journaling on scrapbook pages.

Do these problems prevent me from scrapbooking? No. Actually I am an avid scrapbooker and may be over-stating these problems, but they still exist for me.  “Hello, My name is Katie and I’m a scrap-a-holic.”

I recently took an improv class and the principles I learned have helped me improve (get it – improv / improve) my scrapbooking skills and I’m having more fun than ever before scrapbooking.  Did the improv class make me funnier?  Not according to my kids.  But the lessons I learned in improv class have opened my creative brain like never before and I’m so exciting about sharing the concepts and how I am applying to them to scrapbooking and a whole lot more!

This blog is dedicated to the lessons I’ve learned in improv class as they can be applied to scrapbooking.

This is lesson Number 1! “Yes, And… !”

One of the first exercises we did in improv class was to play “Yes, And…” but we didn’t start with this game, we started in pairs with the game of “No, But…” Our instructor told us to suggest to our partner that we go to lunch at a particular restaurant and then the partner would say “no, but” and explain why they didn’t want to go to that one but wanted to go to a different restaurant, then we would go back and forth with the “No, buts.” The “No, but” conversation was frustrating and we didn’t end up deciding on going anywhere. This exercise reminded me of when I am scrapbooking and I pick some photos but then decide “no, but” I think I maybe have some better photos somewhere, which leads to a long hunt for the right photos or paper or embellishment or journaling spot or story to tell or you name it. If you are a scrapbooker, you probably have done this frustrating “No, but” exercise with yourself more than once. I would like to say goodbye to “No, but” scrapbooking forever.

I would like to be a “Yes, And…” Scrapbooker. In improv class, after the “No, But” exercise, we did the “Yes, And…” exercise we were told to start the same way by suggesting that we go to a restaurant and then our partner would respond by saying “Yes, And…” then the partner would suggest something else to do. When we played this game everyone got more creative and had more fun, instead of just going to lunch the teams ended up going scuba diving, on treasure hunts and to outer space, so much more fun and interesting than the first exercise.

The “Yes, And…” game is one of the basic principles of improv comedy. The moral of the this principle is to accept what others have to offer, to try something new, to be open to new possibilities; and it is also about taking something and running with it – putting an end to all that deliberation of if you should do this or that – it’s a quick decision so the fun can begin!

So how can you apply the “Yes, And” principle from improv to scrapbooking?  Here are 5 fun ways:

1. Say “Yes, And” to someone’s imagination or plan in real life and then scrapbook about the experience. I let my daughter plan an adventure for the two of us and she took us on a “hike” all the way from our house to a busy part of town – I never imagined she would want to walk to far from home and luckily my husband came to rescue us once we got to her intended destination, but it was a little peek at her independent view of the world and her desire to explore it.

2. Say “Yes, And” when someone offers you free tickets or a chance to do something you don’t normally do and scrapbook the experience.  My husband is one of those rare men who doesn’t watch sports of any kind and while I’m quite happy about this fact, I do enjoy actually going to live games, he does not.  So when a business friend gave us free tickets to the Tampa Bay Rays Game, he normally says “No, But” we don’t go to games, but I overheard the exchange and quickly said “Yes, And” I’ll take our son and that’s just what I did.  

3.  Take what others have to offer:  Kid’s Artwork.  My kids bring home a lot of artwork and I keep lots of it, but the artwork doesn’t always end up in my scrapbooks, more often it ends up in a specially dedicated book to that school year.  I do think kids’ artwork can make an awesome embellishment or background to a page because it gives a personal touch and can further the story you are trying to tell.  This page is about how I usually think my son favors me over his Dad and how happy his Dad was when he brought home a Valentine that highlighted Dad instead of me!  This page makes both of us smile, since we now each think we are his favorite!

And, just to be fair, I made another scrapbook page that featured our son’s portrait of me:

4.  Take what others have to offer:  Photos.   My husband’s nephew has a distinct sense of humor, one year for Christmas he sent 8×10 glossy photos of himself – but he had done things like shaved his head into a comb-over.   I knew this photo needed to go into a scrapbook (and not on display in the house) and I though the Single White Male Ad would be a funny twist – it was my “Yes, And” to his weird self portrait.  Oh, And Yes, Ladies, he is still single just in case you are wondering.

5. Say Yes, And!  to the Embellishments and Letters that you have on hand:  The letters in this layout don’t match, chances are that if you are a paper scrapbooker you have left over letters from several different alphabets, this trick is an oldie but a goodie – use different letters to make a title – ransom style. 

I made all of the above pages before taking the improv classes, actually several are a few  years old, but in retrospect I can see that “Yes, And…” attitude on these pages.

Tell me what is your biggest scrapbooking challenge?

Now for a Fun Scrapbook Improv Challenge:    Create a page incorporating one of the five tips from this post and/or  answering a question with “Yes, And” so that those words are in your title.  I’ll make a new scrapbook page too and post it here and in Scrapbook Improv Flickr Gallery ( ), come PLAY ALONG!   I would love to see what you create with this “Yes, And” improv concept!


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