I'm two weeks into 31 Plays in 31 Days and I'm starting to get a little worn out. I'm having a bit of trouble heading to the "well" of inspiration and drawing out water. My friend, Kate, had given me 31 words to help give some inspiration to begin my day. Think of it as kindling. Then, I use what I hear and experience that day to write the play. I think about it all day and wait for that idea that gets out at least a page. Sadly, it was not taking full effect until around 10pm or 11pm, and I was getting exhausted from trying to work out the plays at that hour. Usually I'm pretty useless around 9pm. If it were 9pm on an ordinary day of the week, I wouldn't have been writing, but this is 31 Plays in 31 Days and I have a responsibility to myself to deliver 1 play each day. So, I force myself to do the work. Maybe that's a good thing? Maybe that's a good lesson to learn: commit to the work daily, even if the hour is late and my brain is mush.
I have to say that there is a bit of a difference in the quality of plays this second week. I'm not saying they're awful, I mean the "quality" in terms of "a distinctive attribute or characteristic possessed by someone or something." The subjects, the themes, the characters, and the styles all feel different from the plays in week 1. (Let me know if you see that being true) I don't know if it's the exhaustion of constant late night writing that's starting to affect them or the sense of impatience and frustration that's building from my commitment. I know that of my last 4 plays, 2 of them (Dredge and Healing) were born out of desperation at a late hour. I hate Healing. It was one of those cases of "just get something written!" I kind of like Dredge. What I found interesting in writing Dredge is that it ended where it ended. It felt complete. I sat at my desk a few minutes, my fingers on the keys, wondering what came next until the answer became clear: nothing comes next. It was complete. The next play, Volcano, was born out of a late night, but also from a feeling of "fuck it, let's just go crazy." Impatience had reared its head.
The impatience hit me early yesterday. I had the morning to get some writing done and was excited to get to work on my play Woman Studies, but I have put it on the backburner as I've been concentrating on 31P31D. So, returning to Woman Studies was very jarring. I had my copy of the script printed out with all the notes I'd previously made, my journal that had some rewrites in it, and my iPad for typing and reconciling all the rewrites and changes. I spent most of the time trying to reorient myself to where I was in the rewrite: what changes had been made, where I'd left off in my reading and editing, and where I'd put things. I had trouble getting back into the world of the play, figuring out where I'd left the characters mentally and emotionally. It took so much time that I only ended up typing a single scene. I was frustrated that just as I was getting started I had to get to work, and I knew it'll be a few days (at least) before I'll able to return to it because of my commitment to 31P31D. I suppose I could let 31P31D slide... No. I made a commitment, I'm going to follow through.
This morning, I actually finished my play, Apathy, before work. It helped that I didn't have to be at work until 10am versus 9am; the hour really does make a difference. I felt energized after writing the play and was ready for the day. I also felt a nice sense of relaxation knowing that I wouldn't be faced with having to finish a play at some point tonight. I can concentrate on dishes! And folding clothes! (Yay?) I thought about whether or not to attempt writing first thing in the morning, which would mean getting out of bed earlier, but I'm conflicted. On one hand, I'd get the play out of the way and be on with my day! Exciting! On the other hand, sometimes it takes all day before I come up with something that sparks my curiosity and helps ignite the play. Dredge, for example, was inspired by a news piece on NPR that I heard on the drive home. I'm sure that news report would've stuck in my mind, but it was the convergence of the word "dredge" and the news report that created the play. I suppose I could play "what if" all day long about when I should write the plays, but maybe I'm making it too complicated. Maybe I just get up early and, if I have the idea then, write the play. If not, let the day seep in and write it at night.
So, my fellow theatre-makers, when do you work? Can you work first thing in the morning? Can you only work late at night? Do you work everyday?
Have fun and be excellent to each other.