How long does it take (part 2)

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how long it took to write the first draft of a play I’m working on. I said it was an interesting question. I recently finished the second draft of the same play. How long did it take? It’s still an interesting question…

I finished the first draft of the play on November 13 and I didn’t start work on the second draft until April 1. There were holidays and other projects and distractions in between those dates, but there was also Resistance. I couldn’t get myself to get started on the next draft.

I’m in a playwriting group, so I knew that I had to get this draft done because it was eventually going to be my turn to present my rewrite. I wanted to start the rewrite. I intended to start the rewrite. But the TV continued to beckon and I continued to watch. Or find other things to do.

The thing that drove me crazy was that it was a rewrite! I mean, I had a good overall idea of the story. I just had to write it out again and see if new discoveries were made on the second pass. It shouldn’t have been difficult. And even though I wanted to fight the Resistance to write, I kept succumbing to my excuses.

Finally, at the start of my new year (April 1), I decided to get started. I knew Resistance was kicking my butt, so I broke the rewrite down. I would commit to writing for a minimum of 5 minutes a day. As long as I wrote for 5 minutes a day, I was good. And I made it part of my morning routine to write for those 5 minutes.

It’s amazing how much you can write in 5 minutes when you put your mind to it.

Did I mention that I had two weeks to get this draft finished because I was presenting it to my writing group on April 15? On one hand, the amount of time to write was twice as long as I had before I “started” writing the first draft and had to present it. On the other hand, there was no way I was going to finish it in two weeks if I was only writing for 5 minutes a day.

I was finding it hard to push past five to ten minutes of writing. It was crazy! But I got a third of the rewrite done working this way. I needed to make a big push to get it done on the weekend before I presented.

I planned to write on Friday night. Nothing.

I intended to write on Saturday. Besides my five minutes (which turned into fifteen minutes), I didn’t get anything written.

I actually sat down to write on Sunday. For hours. (I got up a few times.) Nothing. In fact, that day was the premiere of the last season of Game of Thrones, so I eventually made my way downstairs to watch.  Oddly enough, there were some technical difficulties and I couldn’t watch GOT. Was it the Universe telling me to get back to my rewrite? I decided to take it as a sign and went back to my desk.

I would write in fifteen minute spurts and then take a break.  By 4:30 am, I had finished the second draft.

All told, it took 7 hours of actual writing.  But it took almost ten times that many hours to squeeze out that writing time.  I started writing on April 1 and finished on April 15.  And it took at least 2 months to get to the point of “starting” to write.

I was surprised how easy it was for Resistance to get the better of me.  I thought I was ready.  I’ve read Steven Pressfield’s books.  I get it.  And still Resistance kicked my butt for most of this process.  But that is part of the battle for anyone trying to reach a goal.  It never really gets easier.  You just keep working at it.


© 2019 Peter Gruner

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