Doing the Work

by Erica Bennett

For the last six months, I’ve written in short bursts of inspiration, followed by long spells of enervation. Yet, while I have been fortunate to hear my fruits read on stage, but I am not satisfied.

Three words written to me by a Facebook friend I’ve never met resonate with me, “Do the work.”

For the last several months I’ve been suffering from another long descent into pneumonia and in digging my way back out I’ve done a lot of thinking.

For whom and what am I writing? In the writing, am I fulfilling my vision? Is that even possible in a play format? Why am I not satisfied with the outcome? If not, should I be writing in another format?

Am I writing to get attention? Am I writing because I am addicted to instant gratification? Am I writing from ambition? Am I writing to win an award? Meet a deadline?

Am I telling the story of people? Am I writing for me?

My mentor wrote me, “A play is about action. A novel describes life.”

Can a play describe action? Is action in a play always verbalized? Can a play include movement? Can a playwright write:

“DUCKY pads silently across the plank floor to him, waits. But, the old man sleeps.”

Or, is that directorial? Have I designed the set? And, is any of that allowed?

What I realized this month is that like most people, the characters I write come from some place… Acting 101: Where are you coming from?

If doing the work takes me into another or a combination of formats and down a longer road, who is it I am writing for anyway? Me. Today, I give myself permission to do the work like Erica Bennett.

2 thoughts on “Doing the Work

  1. Yes, a play can describe action. No, action in a play is not always verbalized. Yes, a play can include movement ….or non-movement. Yes a playwright can write that line, and I will be so caught by the profoundness of it, it will draw me in further. Some may think it is directorial but if the planks and the walk and the wait and the sleeping symbolize something that cannot be spoken in the play, it must be written… You’ve only asked for planks… The playwright’s vision is allowed but you may have to fight to make it understood.

    I was watching videos with Faith Ringgold (Thanks to LAFPI: The Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative via Guerrilla Girls On Tour!’Works in Progress’ article on Facebook from; Faith Ringgold says, “Art is a visual image of who you are, where you are, how you are, what you are…” The visual images of a play/story are just as important as the words…

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