I'm very proud of myself for getting through another year of 31 Plays in 31 Days. It was grueling towards the end. I was having trouble thinking of new ideas. I wanted to challenge myself, I wanted to have diverse characters (plenty of women, different ages), I wanted to play with structure, I wanted to play with length (challenge myself to write a 1-minute play), and I wanted to make these plays something to be proud of. I think I succeeded in a lot of the plays, but I also feel like I fell short of complete success. I want to look over the new body of work and see what's there, see if my perceptions really hold water, but not right now. I need some distance from these plays, so I can come back to them fresh.
During the month, I found it difficult and easy to find time to write. I stayed up late, which I don't normally do, and I wrote during my lunch breaks at the day job. I felt a lot of stress to get the plays done, but this was all self-inflicted. Nothing bad would have happened to me if I didn't finish the plays, but it felt like I would be a failure if it was past midnight and I hadn't finished the play (one night I got really, really close to missing the deadline).
What did I gain from all this stress and late night writing? What did I get out of churning out a play every day for the past month? A quick answer: 31 plays. Thanks to this year I have 31 new plays that are filled with new characters and situations that might evolve into something else. I doubt that any of the plays will expand into larger plays, but that possibility is there. I also gained the knowledge that I can write everyday. I'm not a firm believer in having to write everyday to call myself a writer (see this post). I don't like forcing myself to produce pages, but there was something about forcing myself to just write something that was energizing, but frustrating. I would have to cull together experiences from my day, from my past, or from some rules that I might give myself for that day in order to get something written. A lot of the plays are born out of the frustration of forcing myself to just write something, get something on the page.
An interesting side effect to this forced production of pages was that I felt even more pressure and need to work on what I kept referring to as "my work," as if the work I was writing for 31 Plays was somehow not "my work." I wanted to get work done on all the other projects I have on the back burner. Now that it wasn't me putting things on the back burner, it was this outside force putting these projects on the back burner, I wanted to rebel. How dare you keep me from working on my work! It became urgent for me to work on these projects that, honestly, I've been keeping on the back burner. I did finish a draft of Woman Studies last week, even in the midst of writing the last week of plays. Now that I'm finished with 31 Plays, I have the need to move to the next project: Persephone. (And a screenplay, but that's bonus)
Fellow playwrights, did you get all the plays done? Did you experience the same frustrations? How big is your back burner?
Have a good time working, whether you want to be or not. Enjoy and be excellent to each other.