A colleague asked me to speak to an English class about drama writing. This was a good opportunity for me to spend a little time to think through the processes I use when writing drama (or creative writing in general.) Mostly, my procedures are nothing learned or formal, but merely intuitive responses based on trial and error. I’d like to take a few posts and talk about my procedures in hopes that it might encourage others in their pursuit of writing drama. Part 1 is not exclusive to drama writing. It’s an essential part of any type of creative writing.
Drama Writing – Part 1: Be Fearless!
When you start writing drama (or any creative writing), you will find yourself saying things like this:
“I don’t know what to write about.”
“I have no good ideas.”
“Look at what I’ve written. It stinks.”
If you find yourself saying any of these or similar platitudes then you are well on your way to being a writer. Here’s one to crochet on a pillow and put in your writing room: Doubt is the bedfellow of a writer.
There are many reasons for this. One of the most obvious reasons comes from comparing one’s work with that of other writers. We’ve all read something which we really admire and think, “Wow, I could never write like this. I could never be a better writer than this person so why even try.” You may feel like sulking in despair and throwing your pen into the trash. But while the previous sentence may be true, the inverse is as well, that author will never write like you. There’s only one you. Capitalize on it!
Secondly, vulnerability is embedded into the fabric of writing. If you ever want to say something memorable, if you ever want to communicate effectively and correctly about the human condition, if you ever wan to connect with an audience, you have to be vulnerable in your writing. You have to go places in your writing where you typically don’t want to go. You have to write things which will make your friends raise their eyebrows and look at you funny. They will wonder if you are really losing it, or if you have finally fallen off the deep end. All those doubts they had about you will be confirmed. Are you sure you are ready for this?
Third, an issue interconnected with vulnerability is the judgment which inevitably will come along with it. Fairly or not, writers who let others read their works will be judged. Some people will understand what you are saying. Others won’t, and that judgment can hurt. I remember after I published my first novel, I had some friends who treaded lightly around a few topics which I broached in the book. Some even asked me, “Whoa, what’s going on in that mind of yours?”
But what I have learned more than anything else about writing is that writers don’t let unfavorable comparisons, painful vulnerabilities, or ruthless judgments stop them from writing.
Writers must be fearless! This is the foundational stone upon which your writing must be built, and I think it’s also the first step that must be understood when attempting to write serious drama (or any other genre of creative writing.)
Understand at the beginning that failure and doubt will follow you everywhere, but you must not give in to their begging and pleading.
Now that we all understand what to expect, we’re ready to move on to step 2 of drama writing.
Next Up in Our Drama Writing Series – Part 2: Writing Starts in Your Mind