We’re nearing the end of Write to Play. I can’t help but think back to when it all started in January. How much we have crammed into one year: the workshops, the monologues, the duologues and now finally our full-length plays. We’ve been worked hard and we’ve worked hard too. We’ve all learnt a great deal in the year with Graeae, which makes me think, “what are the lessons that have been learnt?” I asked my fellow Graeae writers: if they had to give one piece of advice, what would it be?
Firstly: that old adage, ‘Writing is rewriting’. There can never be enough rewriting. That is essentially what writing is all about and having to learn when the piece of work is actually complete. Even in the process of having the work performed, there is tweaking of a word here and there that needs to be done, and writers being the perfectionists that they are look for ways in which their piece of work can be improved.
Secondly: being open to advice from others while at the same time having the courage and conviction to discard it if it is not helpful towards the vision of your piece. I know there seems to be a contradiction here but it is true. Writing a piece of dramatic text is a collaborative process that requires skills of negotiation and real courage to be able to stand alone in the moment, when no one else is seeing what you are seeing. This learning curve has been the most challenging for the writers of Write to Play (or anyone that is starting out on their career path of being a playwright).
This leads onto the third point: trusting yourself, knowing yourself and knowing what works for you. This perhaps is the most difficult bit, for any writer knows that trusting oneself is both praising and damning at the same time. Trusting oneself leads to paths of inspiration and great writing, but it also leads down the dead ends and dark alleyways. How do you know that you are on the right path? The best lessons come from the mistakes when things go wrong. That can only happen through the process of writing badly and acknowledging it. Having a gut instinct and writing about what feels natural to the writer is perhaps the first and best place to begin. If it goes well, great. If it doesn’t, there’s always rewriting. That will help to correct it.
Finally and possibly my best piece of advice: write the story you want to write. If you have a story to tell that you feel passionate about, especially one that hasn’t been told on stage, now is the time to write it. Theatre is about telling stories that have not been told before. The writers of Graeae are at an advantage, for the stories of disabled lives are the ones that have been the most neglected and ones that have yet to be heard. However, my fellow writers are working away to correct that, so watch this space.