Well, I’ve spent the past few months procrastinating – if you can call editing an existing script and performing in a completely different play procrastinating, which of course you shouldn’t, despite that gnawing feeling in the pit of your stomach telling you that you could always be doing more and you’re pitiful for not doing so…
But no more! At last, I’ve written the synopsis for the next play on my docket. I haven’t written the play itself – apart from a draft of the first ten pages, that is. You see, I’d written the opening scene as a submission for Naked Angels’ Twistmas reading a few months ago, and even though it wasn’t read it’s still been next in line for me to work on. So, before I wound up being cast in The Silencer, I’d done all the brainstorming exercises I do for characters in a new piece; after that show was concluded, I hit my local libraries doing my customary research. This is the total reverse of my usual order of operations, but no matter – I’d done all the steps. Clearly, writing a short plot outline to follow would be easy, right? Perhaps even superfluous? After all, I already had the opening scene, and knew what was going to happen – I’d been living with this idea for the past few months, after all. Wouldn’t I simply be transcribing what was already in my head?
On the contrary. Before I forced myself to sit down and type out those two little pages, I had no idea what the plot of this was going to be.
Well, that’s not entirely true – I had the idea, the basic shape. I knew that [redacted], [redacted], and [redacted] would all be taking place in this story. I knew how it began and I knew how it was going to end. What I didn’t have was the path to get from one point to another – those minute details that are the first things that trip you up if you start writing without knowing them. Whenever I hit a wall and stare at a blank page for hours on end, it’s because I’m struggling to reach for one of those details, those intermediary steps, and the act of reaching stops any progress I might have been making dead in its tracks.
By contrast, forcing myself to ignore everything but the most rudimentary aspects of story – no characterizations, no fancy wordplay or deep themes, just the nuts and bolts of who exits the room when and why – everything else suddenly slams into place. Before, I had a picture, a vague vision of what I was going to write. Now, I have a blueprint.
Now, to stop procrastinating – if you can call composing the weekly blog post procrastinating…
Posted on May 6, 2019
by Michael C. O'Day