Writing. The arcane art. Just open a vein and write, as the saying goes. It’s easy, isn’t it?
I was chatting with a couple of my playwriting friends and we were complaining how hard it is to write. If we think of ourselves as writers, why would the thing we do that classifies us as a writer – writing – be hard? A lot of writers don’t like writing. They like having written.
Writing is hard. Writing isn’t fun. Writing is lonely. So, why do we do it, then?
I think most of us that write have a need to express ourselves that the act of writing seems to accommodate. But why is it hard, then? If it fills a need of ours, why do most of us hate doing it?
Maybe part of the problem is that initially we write because we have to. That first story that compels us to share our writing with the world, drives us forward. After that, we think: Hey, I’m a writer. But instead of focusing on the act of writing, we then worry about “what” we will write next. We don’t focus on the process, we focus on the product.
Playwrights write to produce art. Or at least something to be produced/performed (if the “A” word is too weird to use). And maybe too much attention is put on the act of producing, instead of the act of writing.
Product vs process. If you focus too much on the product, it’s easy to cripple yourself into despair. Is anything ever good enough? But if it is just part of your process to write and not worry about the product, then you can accept that there will be good days and bad days.
Focusing on the product causes you to edit yourself much too early. Focusing on the process will allow you to keep creating until it needs to be edited.
I think if you can nail down a writing process that works for you, then the “products” will follow naturally. One of the big things that slows people down is thinking that the writing is important. The act of writing is important.
What if you have to be able to cut out all of that “brilliant stuff” in act one because it’s no longer relevant to the story you’re trying to tell? That hurts. But you have to be able to do it. A lot of beginning writers find it difficult to remove things they’ve already written and it limits their development. (Besides, it’s not really lost forever –just file it away for inspiration in another story.)
If you have a process that you follow consistently, then the story will come. And because you have a process that you can use consistently, you know that your regular writing will allow you to discover things and should take some of the pressure off you.
We all write. We create lists, write emails, make notes, etc. Most of those things we just do and spend little time worrying about the process of writing those ideas out. Our “writing” writing should be approached the same way. Start a habit of writing daily. And don’t worry about how “good” it is. Just do it. Commit to an amount of time or a number of pages (or lines) to write on a daily basis. Start small. Be consistent. And get those stories told!