At my last critique group we all decided we were going to write 10 minute plays.
Immediately, I felt a challenged, but not inspired. I’m long winded. I need space to explore my emotions and thoughts and feelings, to establish my tone and to set up my characters, plot and mood. I’m not a playwright. How on earth am I going to not only condense my thoughts, but transfer them to a play format?
And I begin to wonder, are writers limited in their craft or can a true writer mold herself and adapt to new challenges such as this.
Michael Jordan was a phenomenal basketball player. One of the best in history. Few will every live up to this legend. But he made a name for himself in baseball. Was he as good in baseball as he was in basketball? Never, but he didn’t embarrass himself either. He put his mind to it, put himself in a position to be successful and didn’t look back. Sure, he went back to his first love, and his stronger sport, which I think supports my point.
Writing different genres is a lot like playing different sports. There are poets, novelists, playwrights, short story writers, essayists, flash fiction experts, children’s book writers, young adult writers, and the list goes on (just as in sports: basketball, baseball, football…). You need a basic skill set, conditioning, and practice, but just because you are a superstar at one genre, it doesn’t necessarily follow that you will be in another genre. However, it also doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try. Ultimately, they’re interrelated at a fundamental level and by practicing another set of skills for a little while you are not necessarily hurting your previous skill set. In fact, you might just find that by focusing on another area for a little while, you’ll make a comeback in the first with sharper skills having benefited from the rest and revitalization your time on another field brought.
Keeping all that in mind, I am looking for ideas about how to start, plan and execute a 10 minute play. It may or may not be successful, but I decided that ‘s not the point. The point is that I keep writing. The more you write, the more you become the writer you want to be.
2 thoughts on “The Writer I Want to Be”
I agree that some writing skills can transfer to almost any genre, but some genres need different thought processes. For example, I don’t think I can write fiction. I took a creative writing class in college to explore this area, but I just can’t make up stories that would engage me. I can play with language in verse and poetry, but I tend to focus my writing essays and articles that inspire, persuade, and/or inform. I greatly admire those who can write fiction well and take me into another world, but it’s not a skill I have.
I can certainly understand that. I have always struggled with verse and poetic form, but not for lack of trying. I have had this discussion many times with other teachers about cultivating writing skills in students as well. Writing is not intuitive, so teaching it to others is always a monumental challenge. Some will always be more successful than others and that has a lot to do with the artistry.