Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Writing the solo show, pt. 6: Now what?

You've been writing and writing and you've got all this material down, so now what?

That's where I'm at.  

Mostly I've jammed out on paper a lot of text that may or may not be used.  And a lot of notes.  Much of it is far too personal, but there are some really great gems in there.  I’m still too far away from knowing exactly what this piece will be, but the molds of clay are taking shape.

If you’re in this place, you may get impatient and want to do too much too soon.  You have to resist this urge.  I’ve already started to imagine the opening scene and the last image.  This might be a good touchstone for me in some ways, but I need to not get ahead of myself. 

Remember, it's a process.  One step at a time.

This first step in the process of getting as much down as possible is crucial.  It’s throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks.  There’s no thinking about quality.  You don’t know what’s good or not, you just have to get out of the way and get your story down.  

And whatever you do, don’t show it to anyone yet. 

There is going to come a time when this brain-dumping process is over with.  You may want to put a date on the calendar and say, I will have a “draft” by this date.  By draft, you can give yourself a page number, say 30 pages or 60 pages or whatever you feel comfortable with.  Then say, I’ll have that done by November 1st.  That’s my date.

I call this part of the process, the “vomit draft”.  When I teach playwriting, I tell my students this is the part of the process where you give yourself ultimate permission to fail.  Write a piece of crap.  Write a real, honest-to-god turd of a manuscript.

You’ll find that once you release the “I have to write a masterpiece” idea from your mind, the writing goes a lot smoother.  When you look at it afterwards, you’ll find that it’s not a piece of crap at all, that there’s some real gold there.

Once you get done with this process, then you move on to showing it someone.  That’s when things will get interesting, too.  

But that’s for another post.

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