Are you feeling resistant to working on your solo show? Some tips:
1. Try doing another creative task when you “should” be creating your show. This works for me like gangbusters.
- As I mentioned in my last post, I tricked myself into writing my first solo show by writing an essay about the show. So I began the process under less pressure—the real pressure was on writing the essay.
- In the midst of taking a six-month solo show master class, I wrote another essay with a pressing deadline. As soon as I finished it, I hustled to make the class’s next deadline as well.
- I’ll keep alluding to it in almost every post: a deadline is a beacon. Sail your ship (show) to that light. It’s like a homecoming: you want to get there, and not too late.
- I was supposed to work on this blog yesterday, but I worked on my second show instead. I was supposed to work on my second show today, and I’m working on this blog instead. Apparently I have a need to thwart my own authority. Rebellion via creation! Or is it the other way around? Regardless: by golly, it works.
2. You may think you’re resisting when in fact you’re doing exactly what you need to do. For instance, if you were “supposed” to write a new scene but found yourself making an outline of the show instead, I’m betting that that outline will be helpful to you in the long run. The new scene may need to gestate while you look at the big picture (the outline).
- If you work on something unplanned yet related to your show (like an outline), and you think This is chaos, what am I doing?!… Congratulations! You are entrenched in the sometimes rocky, baffling, flying blind, hanging-by-a-fingernail process of solo show creation! Well done! And if you’re trying to see the big picture, then there’s a good chance you’re going to have an actual show, even if it seems like a jumbled mess right now.
- Validate your work by circling every scene/idea you like/love/have-hope-for. You created it. It was worth every second of work/imagination that went into it.
3. No act of creation is wasted. Every element of your show that seems out of place/unnecessary/incomplete/lousy needed to be generated. It’ll be reworked or discarded, but your current draft is supposed to include material that never makes it into the final draft. The show is like a clay sculpture: everything you write/improvise constitutes the clay; everything you edit shapes the sculpture. Can’t sculpt without the clay.
4. Are you resisting by not working on any creative project? Maybe you’re overwhelmed by the next step. So: break the next step down to its smallest component.
- Want to write a scene? In the space of two minutes (not one second more—set a timer!), write anything that comes to mind for that scene: character(s), topic, dialogue, anything. Stop when the timer goes off. You’re done for today unless you want to do more. I’m serious.
5. Celebrate every achievement during this process, large or small.
- Wrote a new scene? Call a dear friend. Improvised a three-minute bit while recording it on your laptop? Read a cherished poem or book chapter. Met a deadline? Take yourself to the movies or watch a treasured DVD/blu-ray.
- Obviously, these are just random suggestions—please do what feels like celebration to you. Anything that feels like a reward that’s easy and kind: do it.
- The quality of the achievement is irrelevant at this point. Just celebrate the fact that you completed a task.
You may be more disciplined (and better adjusted) than I am and need none of the tips above. This is only a good thing. Celebrate it! However, if you’re like me, then you’re not alone. Celebrate that!
BONUS: One of my favorite pieces of writing on getting out of your own way to write/create:
- Write Like a Motherfucker by Cheryl Strayed, in response to a letter sent to her at The Rumpus’s “Dear Sugar” column.
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