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TIME TO WRITE

 

At a recent meeting of the Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights, ALAP, a new playwright member wanted to know how other writers scheduled their time to write; did they set up a time each day, or just write ad lib when they had an inspiration - how?

There were about twelve of us at this monthly meeting and the response by everyone was wonderful. It laid out so many different ways a writer works. Here are some - those that I can recall. This discussion led to some other items but I'll not get into that at this time but, rather, stick to the original subject.

We first asked how many of the twelve worked at regular jobs and were surprised to see almost half the group did. A few others had part time or mobile jobs, this latter making their time more flexible along with those who had the luxury of being able to write at any time. However, the beauty of this initial question brought on the following retorts.

One of the playwrights had a full time job, 9 to 5 and came home to his wife, had a bite to eat, talked for a bit and he then sat down at the computer and typed away for a couple of hours until he could no longer focus. He said, "He gets lost in another life, another world." He also writes on the weekend.

Another writer, awakens early, sits down at 6:00 a.m. each day to write for three hours only. No interfering phone calls or having to mess with any other business that early. The writer quits at 9:00 a.m. no matter that he was in the middle of a sentence. He would pick it up on that sentence the next day. After 9:00 a.m, the day was his to do whatever else he wanted to or had to.

Still another writer writes only at late night when no one visits and the phone doesn't ring. He writes until fatigue set in.

There was another gentleman who didn't start working on the body of a play until he developed the characters with which he intended to populate the play. This would give him enough of an idea of the line of the play so that he could start working on it. He would write as many hours as needed until he felt fatigued and stopped until the next inspirational day.

There was another writer who sat down to script five pages a day. Once he reached that number, he had the option of leaving until the next day or, if the inspiration and energy was there, he would continue. But he couldn't quit until he had five pages of script completed ... good, bad or indifferent. Rewriting would clean up everything.

Another writer wrote on weekends only. Period. Banked all his notes and thoughts until then and furiously wrote until ideas stopped flowing or fatigue set in - which ever came first..

One playwright wrote at different times during the day, but made sure to turn his phone off so that he wouldn't be bothered. He also wrote in a room that was far from any door bell. It gave him the quiet he needed to think about and type his words down without interference. And he did most of his thinking about character and story line as he walked about town, tending to some business - the grocer, laundry, gym. People have been known to have passed him with a greeting but when asked about it a week later, the writer had no recollection of having spoken to or heard anyone. Now that's concentration.

A woman who has a part-time job writing for internet publications, writes when she has the time. An hour here, an hour there. She takes notes on small pads for the play on which she is currently working.. She has done that for years and has a stack of notes she can also refer to whenever she needs them as a reference for other plays.

What it all boiled down to was that playwriting uses different strokes for different writers. You find the style that works for you in your situation and stick to it. The most important word that came out of this discussion - persistence. Start it - stay with it until it's finished - in a manner and on a schedule that works for you.

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Copyright © 2013 by Gene Lesser