Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sitting Your Ass Down and Writing & Relatives As Resource

As many of you know, I have undertaken the insane challenge of writing a comedy sketch a day for a year. Today is day 38! It's been fun, it's been nerve-wracking, it's been exciting, it's been disappointing, it's been insightful. The initial excitement and enthusiasm are waning and now the real work begins. Just like being in a relationship. Mostly, I've been happy with what I have posted. I haven't posted anything that I don't see potential in. Now, I'm too the point where I have forgotten some of the scenes I have written and am pleasantly surprised when I run across them. That's always a fun thing as a writer. What is this? Who wrote this? Oh, I did. Damn, I'm good.

The best part of the challenge is that I have written things that just never ever would have been written if I didn't paint myself in a corner to do it. Waiting for the right idea to come along is a waste of time. Might as well write while you wait.

It reminded me of an excerpt from an old Robowriters assignment when we were in the early, early stages of developing The Greatest Stories Never Told...TOLD! The scene referred to that Nat wrote was his insane Johnny Appleseed saga, which became one of the anchors of our show.

Last night's Robowriter's meeting was a lot of fun. The 8pm - 10pm group had the assignment to write a brand new ten page scene. Now, if you're primary experience is sketch writing, you're used to writing in 3-5 page increments. Trying to write a ten page scene can make your internal editor scream quite loudly and make your heart panic a little. Only three of the seven writers were able to accomplish this. Nat Topping wrote his in two hours the afternoon of the meeting! In the 6pm-8pm group, Scott Levy had similarly written a scene hours before the meeting based on one of the assignments from two weeks ago. It's the assignment I used last week to write my scene in forty-five minutes, also on the day of the meeting.
The interesting thing is, all three of those scenes were actually pretty good. All three need tweaking, but not a lot. There's a lot to be said for just sitting your ass down and writing. Especially under the pressure of a deadline. All three of us had the experience of not having much more than a sliver of an idea and all three of us were surprised by the results. I think it might come from trusting oneself. Or at least trusting that something good will come of it, even if it doesn't work on the whole.

ROBOWRITERS ASSIGNMENT: Develop a character based on a family member you may not know very well, living or dead - like an uncle or an aunt or a cousin. Write a scene where this character encounters something unusual.

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