Gearing up for a new play

I always thought it was actors who were children, needing to be coddled and mollified. Now, I think writers are the the most infantile of all.

At least I am.

It’s been a lousy writing year for me. Two public readings of a pair of new plays, a crash and burn failure of a rewrite of a full length that’s been haunting me for a decade, and just no guts to tackle anything new. Perhaps, I told myself, I could write a second act to a lovely play that’s been begging for a companion piece this summer. Didn’t happen. I was tempted to just write off the year entirely.

But it’s fall. And the horrible summers of Washington, DC are finally gone. Leaves are glorious, humidity is a thing of the past, the sunshine is heartbreakingly gorgeous. Feels like southern California.

Fall has always been my favorite time of year anyway. It’s the promise of a new beginning – new friends, a new teacher, new notebooks. So why not a new play?

The theory sounds great, but I admit it: I’m scared.

So I’m going to trick myself.

First, I’m buying myself new writing presents: a new notebook, note cards in various colors, new pens, a designated tote bag.

And If I’m not brave enough to write more than a few lines, I can make lists – character traits, themes, bits of dialogue, words of encouragement from other writers. I can fill pages with words. It’s something, right?

I need theme music. So a search of Pandora is appropriate, yes?

What about visual stimulation? I’ve searched my stash of magazines for pictures of the locales I’m writing about. And pictures of people I’d cast as my characters. Just looking at them is a kick in the seat of the pants. It’s as if they’re saying: “so what do you want me to say? And will you hurry up and write it?”

What about the perfect writing place? I’ve written in our highrise stairwell, in my car, even in the Library of Congress. I’ve taken hikes near a lake, camped out in a library, taken over a table at Starbucks. Anywhere to shake up my brain. Anywhere that I won’t be disturbed for at least 90 minutes a day. 90 minutes where email can’t find me, Twitter doesn’t need me, the phone won’t ring, the cat doesn’t need feeding, the husband doesn’t need to talk about logistics. A place where I can feel brave enough to write something.

I am trying as many tricks as I can to tempt me into being brave enough to once again put my heart and soul into a play that may once again be shredded or dismissed or worse, ignored.

It’s a bit like starting to date again – new clothes, new hairstyle, little aphorisms, and asking yourself: what’s the worst that can happen?

I’ll report my progress as the week progresses.

3 thoughts on “Gearing up for a new play

  1. I love setting up a playlist before I write and using that as a stopwatch: I have to keep writing for the duration of the playlist. I like making it at least or around a full hour – though the typical album is usually less that that these days, so sometimes I set it up to play two albums back-to-back, or simply select songs that fit the mood of the piece and of the scenes I need to write.

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