to become a better writer, you must write. You must write a lot.
And you need to practice experimenting with your writing form constantly. The pressure of this goal will allow you to set aside preconceived notions of what you should be writing and how you should be doing it. You will not have time to overanalyze your work, you will just have to write, write, write and be surprised by what comes out of you. You may love your work some days and wonder what happened on others, but by the end of the month, you will have amassed 31 new plays.
And I agree.
I’m almost up to snuff as of this writing (August 7th, I’ve submitted 5 plays and have two in the works). I’m also writing an assignment-play, story of my own choosing but required to utilize 10 out of 16 prompts given by my prof.* And I’m in rewrites on more projects than I want to iterate here, none of which have I had time to touch, and for two of which I’ve had recent feelers from theaters.
But I’m loath to give up the “31” project. Part ambition, part guilt – they were kind enough to interview me** as an inspiration to others – so I’m taking a leaf out of the book of one of my mentors, Raymond Bobgan, by spending a bit of time thinking about how to work in a very different way without sacrificing quality.
I’m reading outside my comfort zone, currently the plays of Naomi Wallace and Kenneth Koch’s Making Your Own Days (as well as fellow Clevelander Michael Ruhlman’s Ratios). This summer I’ve participated in Michael Dumanis’ final CSU poetry workshop and gotten back into my beloved garden for the first time in years.
Have I mentioned lately – to you, the collective, ubiquitous you – how fortunate I am? How grateful? I reaffirm these things daily to myself, to whatever characters, spirits, ancestors and lost beloveds happen to be hanging around, to the few living with whom I congress in a given day, but fear that I don’t express it enough in the wider world.
And if you don’t get why I’m mentioning it now, I suggest you reread this post. Or write your own. Or join the “31” folks, there’s still time to put out a new body of work, or at least of fodder for works to come. As Rachel and Tracy say,
Instead of waiting for the breeze of inspiration to blow your way, you will see that writing is a craft that can be called on at any time.
*Yes, I’m a woman ‘of a certain age’ and have been a theater practitioner for 49 years, but to be able to teach playwrighting at Uni level, I need a terminal degree, so I’m enrolled in the NEOMFA program.
**You’ll see that this link leads nowhere. They interviewed me the following year and my thesis was, great if you’re a good writer but if you have nothing to say, don’t write. They didn’t like that, refused to publish the second interview, and deleted the first from their website. Here, though, is a copy of that interview.
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