Thursday, August 31, 2006

From Johnna's notes on Stephen Dietz workshop:

Don't be envious of other playwrights. Especially the ones who have early success. Those writers are the most likely writers to never write again-- if early plays go straight into major productions. Struggling early on teaches you persistence. If you can be persistent in the face of early defeats-- you are more likely to also be persistent in the face of success. What you are working toward now is the ability to be ready for theaters to ask you for commissions. That is the next step. To write something new, perhaps without inspiration, on command. Train for that.

Criticizing others is not an accomplishment. Sometimes getting together and bonding over a camaraderie of shared hatreds feels like you are accomplishing something. You aren't. It is easy and it even feels good, but it doesn't really create anything. Your job when you go to see bad plays is not to tear down the writers, directors, and actors as skillfully as possible with your friends. Instead, think about:

1. Where did it go off track?

2. Was a later entry point needed? Did it start too soon? '

3. Did it go on too long? Should it have ended at a different place in the story?

4. Do the characters work?

5. If this were my play, what would I do to fix it?

Don't be "here to sneer" at anything.

Good plays get done. You have to believe your play will get done. You may need to write 6-8 full length plays that are "teaching plays." These plays are just for you to teach you how to write [Johnna's note: THE MIRACLE OF MARY MACK'S BABY-- my first produced play was my 6th full length-- so he is right on as far as I am concerned]. Write extensively and balance your self-esteem on the back of many plays-- not just one or two.


RB Ripley said...

Johnna certainly wrote down some valuable stuff. I've taken to doing my best to avoid writers who wallow in this kind of behavior.

Thanks for posting and I am going to spread this work, if it's okay with you.

Malachy Walsh said...

All good thoughts.

Envy and spite, not good. Not good at all.