The Struggle of Open-Endedness

When I have a production, a workshop, even a meeting to look forward to, I usually find it very easy to focus and get work done. There is a built-in accountability to knowing that others are counting on me delivering something so that further development of a new work/play can begin. However, when I'm in between deadlines, it's a lot harder to find that fire and drive to get the creative wheels turning.

I find myself in such a phase right now. For Inside Out & Back Again, a play which has a definite deadline (it opens in March 2018), the script has been rewritten and brought to a place where the creative teams agrees it's ready for a workshop - which will begin this weekend. All of my other projects don't have deadlines yet. So while I could and should be working on them, it's easy to find myself within a fog of distraction.

To be fair, some of these projects need some time in this amorphous state where they exist primarily in my brain, and are worked and re-worked away from a laptop or notebook. Some of them require research and cogitation before I attempt to create something that even looks like a script. I try to remember this, so I don't feel discouraged by the fact that I might not be "producing" something. Still, structure is good for me. So, I remind myself that there are deadlines on the horizon, even though they may feel far away, or even if I don't see them yet. So, working backwards from those larger deadlines, I try to create mini-deadlines that will help me progress. I have also started to participate in a silent writing group, where I meet with fellow playwrights to stay quiet and just write (or read or research, as the need may be). I find these times to be helpful for focusing because it's harder for the fog of distraction to take hold when I'm out of the house and around others.

I share this because it's so easy to look at the big markers of playwriting and marvel at the world premieres, the workshops, the readings. But, being a playwright is as much about these days/weeks/months of open-endedness, from which they must forge and fashion a pattern and routine that works for themselves - much like the act of writing a play.

Posted on December 4, 2017 and filed under Career, Creative, Research, Thought, Writing.