Monday, October 22, 2012

Writing a Play is like Mowing a Lawn

Every now and then someone will ask me to describe what a writer's life is like. Somethings in writing a play are different than, say, writing a novel or a screenplay. I finally found a way to describe a playwright's life in my own redneck style using my own pride and joy, my lawnmower.

A Redneck Explains Playwriting! 

  • Priming the Pump/Changing the Oil: The Playwright's craft itself requires a lot of maintenance. Everyone has seen that one movie maker or tv writer who uses the same old bag of tricks over and over thinking they're a genius. (Did someone say Michael Bay?) A good Playwright looks for ways to change his point of view and comfort zone every so often to keep his craft fresh.

  • Throwing A Rock: I don't know how many times that I've written a superbly horrible or annoying character and sat back very happy with myself only to have a very witty actor or a friend say, "Hey dude, this guy is totally just like you". Sometimes in the course of writing a good story you happen to trip throw up something meaningful about yourself and your surroundings. You just got to make sure it doesn't smack you in the head.

  • Pulling the Cord: Sometimes the engine is primed and ready to go but you still have to pull the cord forty million times and adjust the choke before it starts to run and get warmed up. Sometimes a Playwright has to use a prompt to get their writing going. These can take the form of cliche exercises from college (put two people on a park bench and get them talking) or something as crazy as flipping a coin to decide what the character does next. This isn't supposed to be your play it's supposed to get the engine running so that you have a clear idea what your play is supposed to be. Once the engine is running you stop pulling the cord. 

  • Letting the Grass get too Tall: Just like your lawn it's very hard to get back into the routine when you let things grow wild for a while. Writing is like any other skill...better when you use it as part of a regular routine. When you don't use it it takes more work to get the same job done and you end up cursing more often than you end up smiling. 
Writing a play is a rewarding experience but as a daily routine or work schedule it has it's own problems and gremlins. Do you have any problems you encounter in your own writing routine? Leave me a comment below.

1 comment:

  1. Why you gotta hate on filmmakers? :P Interesting metaphor. What about those of us who don't know hoe to mow?