Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Play Writing (pt. 1)

by Phillip Kelly
As a writer, when I sit down, I always have a goal in mind. I want to get this accomplished. I want to allow a character to move from here to here. I need a character to move from here to here. Move, character, move! The character isn't moving. It's starting to feel forced. But the story has to -- stop!

As writers we get in the (good) habit of plotting and structuring, following the course. Being logical (which I'll talk about in part 2). We need that or we'll never finish a first draft or a character may not make sense. But as writer's we also need to explore, unhinge ourselves and let our minds wander to discover new threads, to keep things fresh, so we're not repeating ourselves. Especially thematically.

How many times have you sat down to write something "new" and found you were essentially exploring the same thing you just wrote about. Or how many times have you sat down to rewrite and found yourself thinking, "Why would I change this? It's perfect!" Take a step back, my friend.
I went up to review Theatricum Botanicum's The Women of Lockerbie recently and pulled out my notebook to sit on their beautiful grounds and take notes about a comic book I'm working on. The thought of it exhausted me. I sat there for a moment then just started scratching some thoughts onto the page with no discernible goal in mind, and it was an incredibly freeing experience. Something I hadn't done in awhile. It was like my brain was taking a breath of fresh air, running through the fields and kicking around in a stream. I wrote a meager three pages, prose in the format of poetry (so I didn't have to fill the whole pages). Here are a few lines for your pleasure:

Not trying to uncover a truth or a mystery.
Simply relying on the twists and turns in my mind.
House cleaning.
Those things that are packed tight are loosened.
Wrestled free.
Mixed about to fall into place elsewhere.
To inspire in new ways.

Of course, I was writing about what I was doing. Freely contemplating it.

Then there was this:

Likewise, if you don't tell someone you love them, you're killing love.
Love left unproclaimed does not exist and grows instead like a weed.
If not spoken it becomes impure, unfocused and unkind.
Spoken it grows and flourishes and becomes something else entirely.
How can love be fed if it is first not planted?
To speak love, is to plant love.
To keep love, is to hold onto a seed and never enjoy its fruit or shade.

And I went on about how ideas and art are the same thing. Really nothing profound, but by doing this it freed me up to simply think about different things, discover new trajectories. I know I have the tendency to treat writing simply as work or an exercise, but it's nice to play as well. Your brain and creativity will thank you.

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