I learned last night that a one-act play I wrote will be part of a showcase happening next June. I’m super excited about this, and there will of course be more details to come. Today, however, I want to talk about the fact that this play got picked, as compared to the other play I submitted.
I was invited to submit material for this showcase last summer. There was a meeting with several other invited writers to discuss the details, and then I got to work. I made some notes for myself, developed an idea, plotted it out, wrote a draft, revised it, polished it, and sent it in. There was no limit to the amount of pieces the invited writers could submit, so I decided to write a second piece as well. I didn’t have an idea for one, however, and then Season on the Line started taking up more and more of my time, and the next thing I knew I had only a couple of days before the deadline. At long last I discovered this kernel of a story rattling around in the back of my brain and I just crapped it out onto paper.* I managed to get the script in just under the wire. I would describe it as a polished first draft. I didn’t leave myself enough time to do any real revisions.
Guess which script got selected? Unfortunately for anyone hoping for a lesson about diligence paying off, about how slow and steady wins the race, I hate to disappoint you but no, it was the second one.
This is a phenomenon I’ve encountered my entire life. I was a terrible student back in my youth, but I could usually count on getting good grades on the papers I wrote. As a rule, however, I always did better on the papers I left until the last minute, and had to pull all-nighters to finish on time. On my favorite writers’ podcast, Writing Excuses, they talk about “outliners” and compare them to “discovery writers,” whom they affectionately call “pantsers,” because they write by the seat of their pants. I apparently work best when I take that pressure and add a layer of playing chicken with the deadline. I have no idea why this is the case, and I don’t think it’s a good thing, necessarily. Needing to be in a state of panic in order to produce good art sounds exhausting. I’m hoping this practice of writing daily will redirect that tendency.
*Not really. It’s all digital these days. But the imagery of paper is much more romantic, don’t you think?