Here’s a snippet from a Q&A Stephen Colbert did on Reddit. The whole interview is here, and it’s generally interesting. But for my purposes, the nub of what he has to say is in these few lines. He’s talking about his early career, how he got started as an actor. Getting into trouble means saying yes to every chance you’re offered to perform or produce, to write or paint or act. Pay or no pay. Just keep getting yourself into situations where you have to produce, situations that make you panic and focus. Panic is always good for a writer.
I mostly just said yes to any opportunity to get on stage. Pay or no pay. Equity, amateur, comedy, avant garde, and improv especially. Chicago has a great improv community, and I could get up on stage a lot after I got to know the other members of the community. I called it getting in trouble. You say yes to something, then you are in trouble. You have to deliver. Each mini-crisis I forced myself into made me work hard.