I’ve been playwrighting quite a bit these last few weeks. So, that is the front-burner project at the moment. And I’ve had to push other things back…which is fine. Each project will have its own priority; its own time; its turn to shine.
But, the playwrighting project…whew! This is, without a doubt, the hardest writing project I have ever undertaken. I think it’s a safe bet to say, it’s the hardest writing project I will EVER undertake. We’ve had this in works for 4 years. 4 years ago, we developed the story, the plot, the premise, the characters. And it’s taken 4 years of sitting in my brain, bouncing around.
I didn’t know it was ready to come out. All I knew, for those 4 years was…this is hard. I don’t begin to know how to approach this project. I know what the end result needs to be. Do I have the writing chops to accomplish it, as it needs to be accomplished?
Yes, I could write it. But, would it be good enough?
So, the other day…two weeks ago, I was very angry about something else– very, very angry, and I didn’t know I was going to work on this play. I didn’t plan it, but i went to the computer, and bam! It was ready to come out. I wrote 30 pages that weekend. I’ve worked on it, in bits and pieces these last couple of weeks.
Today I wrote 13 pages.
I’m far enough along…to see the light at the end of the tunnel. If I can just get the first draft built…that’s the hard part. Getting the structure there. I think of playwrighting like building a skyscraper. I need to get the steel beams in place, the floors level, the solid foundation laid.
After that, we can tweak, add to, subtract…that part is secondary. The “dressing up”. But, the foundation has to be there: plot, pace, character, structure, meaning, pay-off(s).
For each writer, their process is different. I love to hear about each writer’s process. For me, I think of stories I’ve heard about writers who: make themselves sit at their desks from 9 to 5. Even if they don’t accomplish one usable word, they have that discipline.
I am the anti-that.
Something…a project, sits in my brain for whatever time it needs to sit there. When it needs to come out, it tells me. There have been times, when I stop on the sidewalk and write something down. When I pull off the side of the road and make notes.
But, mostly, my process is about doing something else, with the physical body, and letting the mind wander. Part of the time, yes, it’s about 100% focus. But, part of the time, it’s about doing something else actively (washing dishes always seems to get me over that tiny hump), and then coming back to the computer. I might go play the piano or take a walk. For years…years…driving was the thing that made my mind get to that ruminating place. Somewhere around 2002, I figured out how to get to that brain ruminating place without driving. I can go for a walk, and still “work” on whatever creative project I have going.
One writing buddy once said to me, and I quote it often, “Writing is 90% thinking and 10% typing.”
So, to the writers out there: What is your process? How do you make this work for you?
It took me years (decades) to come to the conclusion, there is no right or wrong way to do this. You have to find what works for you.
[I just hit spellcheck. On the above sentence, I had typed “there is no write or wrong way…”
How’s that for a Freudian slip?]