The Write Approach

Upstart Crow. Will Shakespeare (David Mitchell). Copyright: BBC

This has been such a stop-start year for gigs in the UK, and further afield, it must be even harder than usual for performers to get themselves motivated to sit down and write new stuff. Particularly if that material is intended mainly for the stage. Days indoors stretch out endlessly ahead, so procrastination can easily kick in. Even the carrot of some actual booked-in dates seems a bit false, with live calendars being so flaky this year. So how do you get your head in gear?

There are so many fun distractions nowadays too, which probably weren't so big a problem in, say, Shakespeare's day. Would Willy be such a revered wordsmith if at every writing session he'd get distracted by a new message from an old acting pal (probably fishing for a part in his next play, but still, you've got to be polite)? Or if he could watch any play ever written at the touch of a button? Or some shop announced an exciting deal on ruffs? Exactly.

In truth, the carrot and stick approach is probably still the best bet; you just need a different carrot. Aim for more immediate rewards. Maybe you've got an idea for a routine that might not be topical by the time gigs return? Convince yourself to sit down and finish it anyway and you could then reward yourself with a bit of online video-gaming, or head to a popular casino comparison site like to find a site to gamble on, or locate a pack of cards and teach Patience to the kids.

Cards. Image by Leslie Zambrano from Pixabay

Patience is probably the optimal word here. it's easy to get down on yourself for not coming up with some amazing new revenue stream or artistic outlet during however long a break it turns out to be, but some people spend their whole lives wishing they'd had the nerve to break away from their boring lives and do something different, but never do. Actually, maybe that applies to most people. So expecting to completely change your life in a few months is a bit far-fetched.

Indeed, it's a weird time to try to start a new business or artistic venture, when you think about it: who wants to launch a thing when people aren't allowed out of the house and everyone's worried about money? And when everyone else in your line of work is desperately trying to come up with a new thing too. You don't see all of the big movie companies releasing major films on the same day, do you? In fact, they've put all of their blockbusters back to next year, which says a lot.

Trying to force anything creatively is rarely a good strategy, as the best ideas often come from random places. Try to write a huge hit record and you'll probably fail dismally, while the daft novelty b-side you recorded in five minutes will catch a wave and become a sensation. It's the same with jokes: no-one really knows which ones will bring the house down, or go down like a lead balloon. That's why you need loads of them. And that requires a nice long sit-down.

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