Making Progress When It’s Slow Going

Are you working on a new show that’s taking longer to complete than expected? Have you walked away from it a few times, for weeks and even months?


So I’m relieved and proud to announce that I just submitted the latest draft of my new show to a prestigious program that supports and helps playwrights to revise, rewrite, re-imagine, and complete works in progress.

Before I submitted the draft, the program’s deadline galvanized me into reading the script aloud to my husband, which was something I had meant to do the month before…and maybe the month before that…and maybe even…I’m not sure, let’s not dwell on it.

The deadline sparked me into taking swift, decisive action, so I gave the reading just a few days after learning about the program and two days before the application was due.

Deadlines are beacons, as I’ve mentioned before. Thank goodness for this one, which pushed me to take the next necessary step.

Reading the script out loud to another person helped me to understand exactly where the biggest problems were in the writing. (You know you need to revise an entire section when you, its creator, find it tiresome to read aloud! There were several instances of this during the reading.)

My husband confirmed the problems. On the bright side, he also noted that I had improved the flow of the story by making a huge structural change since my last reading a year ago.

At that reading for him and a small group of trusted theatre friends, the consensus was that I needed to sharpen the script’s focus. After working on that for a few months, I realized the piece also needed a structural overhaul, so I added that to my efforts.

I didn’t spend hours of daily labor agonizing over those changes. I didn’t even work on the script every week.

I spent anywhere between 10 to 60 minutes at a time on it, working once every three weeks, on average. That means I sometimes worked two days in a row, but then wouldn’t get back to it for six weeks.

Ideal? Nope. Did I make progress, albeit slowly? Yup.

After reading the latest draft to my husband and seeing how much work was still needed, and how much progress had been made, I felt ready to submit the draft to the program. They may reject it as unworthy of more development under their auspices, but that’s not what matters.

What matters is this:

  • incremental steps moved me forward
  • a deadline was my beacon once again
  • now that I know what needs fixing and still believe that it has promise, I feel optimistic.

I started writing this script in November 2014. I could feel embarrassment over how long this one has taken me to complete, but I don’t.

I’m just glad I didn’t give up.

The adjudicators will let applicants know if our scripts have been accepted in early April. Regardless, I’m going to keep working on mine. I’ll finish this sucker with or without the help of a renowned program. Much as I would love support in an intensive, playwright-friendly environment, I know I can create a worthy show without it, because I already did with my first show.

I’ll perform this new one in L.A., either as a limited special event, or as a bona fide production with a four-to-five-week run. It will depend on what’s happening in my life at the time, and on how relatable or “niche” the final draft turns out to be.

I’ll have a final draft no matter what, and a world premiere after that, and you’re invited!

If you’re trying to get back into the habit of working on a script or other creative project, and you need a deadline to ignite you, look for one here:

Please drop me a line in the Comments if you know of other sources for submissions. Their deadlines are our lighthouses.

May you make progress on your project, in leaps and bounds or inch by inch. Either way, you’ll be honoring your creativity and making something, and I’ll always insist that that’s why we’re here.

BONUS: Wise advice on how to make progress when you’re feeling stuck:

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