I’ve always taken pride in being a disciplined writer who doesn’t need deadlines to get the work done. I usually have several plays in various stages on my desktop. If I end up hating one, that’s okay. There’s one or two others coming up behind it.
This year, the deadline for the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference was October 26th. On October 1st, as I was going over the submission requirements, I decided to not send the play I had finished. I still had problems with it.
Okay, so I could send a different play. However, there was one small catch. The play wasn’t done. I didn’t have a full draft.
Just a minor detail. No need to panic.
What did I have in my undone play? I had the characters. I had the visual world. I knew the tone of it. I didn’t have the ending, but I knew where I was going. I had been working on it for two years, so I had spent some time on it. I realized that I knew more than I thought I knew about it. I just had to get it to draft.
I sat down and finished the play. Every day, I worked on it and worked on it. The first ten pages took two years to write. The last ten pages took two days. I got it to the O’Neill five days early.
Having that deadline turned out to be beneficial. If there had been no deadline, the play would still be incomplete. Sometimes deadlines are helpful.