I usually equate the act, and sometimes art, of writing a play to dating someone. Sometimes it’s sunshine and puppy dogs, and other times you want to bash your head through a window. And let’s face it: sometimes we like, even love, conflict. It keeps us on our toes and makes life a little more interesting. If writing comes that easy, then maybe you are not producing your best work. It’s not uncommon for me to yell at my characters, to wonder where the frig they came from and why they insist on ruining my perfectly-spun story.
Now, I’m not complaining. I love to write, because as crazy as it makes me, the reward is like nothing else. To sit in a small room and work with gifted actors and directors, and then to present a play--an actual play and not just a bunch of meaningless words on a piece of recycled paper--for an audience, is the ultimate euphoria. It’s a dream worth holding on to, even when you feel like giving up. As writers, we all need the support of an audience, and we also need the support of one another.
While many consider writing to be a solitary process, I think it becomes especially hard when a writer doesn’t have someone to brainstorm ideas with, or give an honest opinion of his or her work. What I hate most of all is when writers feel like they have to compete with one another. When I meet a fellow playwright for the first time, and he or she spouts off their entire resume, I am instantly turned off. I honestly care more about someone’s work, than where it has been. Perhaps it’s a form of insecurity, after all it can be a harsh business, but I believe that if we are the individual artists we claim to be, there is no need to compete. I love the collaborative process, and I am more than happy to help a fellow writer in any way I can. Unless you are a pretentious a-hole. Then, I’d probably just laugh in your face and walk away.
In the spirit of collaboration, I’d like to offer some advice for overcoming that dreaded writer’s block. May not work for everyone, but I find it to be helpful:
The phone. The television. The Internet. Tools every writer needs on a daily basis--but not while writing. Many writers prefer to think of their writing time as a good friend, one that deserves undivided attention.
Set Realistic Deadlines
Every writer goes at his or her own pace. Is it reasonable to have a few pages of a novel written by lunch, or have a first-act play completed in a month. Deadlines don't have to be scary, but a goal to strive for.
Know What The Project Is
What is the protagonist's goal? Is the play a comedy or drama? Who is the target audience? These are things that an author may not think about during the writing process, but the more a writer knows about his or her project, the easier it will become to develop on the page.
It may sound underhanded. But you wouldn't believe how many authors have been inspired by conversations overheard in bars, coffee shops, or on the subway.
Find a Space
Having a space designated to writing can help focus. It can be a coffee shop, the park, the library, or an area in the home. It should be a place where the primary focus is writing. In truth, it doesn't matter where the writing happens, as long as an author can focus and feel comfortable in his or her space!
Keep a Journal
Though often creative, there are still rules and patterns one must follow for writing that novel, screenplay or report. Keeping a journal allows a writer to get all of your thoughts and emotions out, in a way that is totally uncensored.
So, keep on writing or supporting the writers in your life. It doesn’t have to be easy to be worthwhile!