Sunday, October 25, 2009

Beginnings


I feel like I’ve had a long, long summer of not writing and frankly, it’s been a good break. Unlike some writers I know, I never feel guilty about not writing. I think of writing as more than just sitting at your keyboard typing away. Writing is living and witnessing and getting perspective. Writing requires rest and recharging the batteries.

Also, last year was a busy year and I was extremely pleased with the outcome of 7 Minutes to Midnight. Part of me just wanted to rest on that success for awhile.

Now the time has come to get back to another project. Maybe it has to do with the fact that the sunshine has disappeared and the rain is back. This time the project will be a play, not a screenplay. It will be funny and tragic. It may have music but I’m not sure. I have a title, but I don’t feel like sharing it right now. It has six characters and I think the journey of this process may take me into some dark territory as well as surprise me.

Isn’t that what we want with our adventures? A little bit of terror and surprise? Thrill us but make us happy, too? In that way, a good story should be like a roller coaster.

Unlike the screenplays I’ve been writing, I’ve decided to just go free-form on this first draft. No outline. No real idea where I’m heading. I used to write this way when I was first writing plays and I don't recommend it as it usually gets me into trouble. But I do know that I am more likely to surprise myself if I don't pre-plan this particular story. I can always go back and shape it by outlining it. First I want to see what might be lurking there in the back of my head. I need to just get some ideas down and see if there really is a play there.

Some writers call this type of draft their "vomit draft". You literally just type whatever you want, an effort to get everything down on paper as quickly as possible. Hopefully you are so fast that the internal editor can’t catch you, slow you down, make you stop and think about what you’re writing about. Buried amidst a ton of crappy writing will be a jewel of a phrase. Or two. And those jewels will guide you to more treasure. Little by little, the work grows.

Getting things down quickly creates pressure—it taps into that desire and passion of being a storyteller—I need to get my story out NOW! The world must know before it’s too late…Sometimes you just need to push yourself.

Which is to say that next month, November, is National Playwriting Month.

NaPlWriMo is a little like the New York City Marathon, only without all the running and the sweating.

Actually, there’s still sweating. And some blood will flow. Maybe some tears, too.

But no running.