Manhattan Rep Cultivating Amazing Theatre in the Heart of Times Square!
#7 - Using Emotional Deadlines and Rewards to Propel your Writing and your Productivity! - Jan. 18, 2017
The biggest problem and the greatest advantage with being a playwright is that a playwright usually writes alone. There is no one telling you what to do, and you can relax into your own imagination and cook up some wonderful, delicious material, but on the flip side, there is no one MAKING you finish your work. There is no real deadline. There is no real reason to get this done by the end of the month, or the end of the week, and even when you set a deadline, sometimes, because it is only you enforcing the deadline, you might let the deadline slide, again and again and again.
So what is a motivated playwright to do?
When I first started to create plays, I would do this, and I would complete the rehearsal draft for one of my plays in a couple weeks if not sooner.
I would book the theatre where I was going to direct my play even before I had set the first word on paper or in my computer. I would put a hefty down payment on a theatre about 10 weeks out so I would HAVE to complete the play, because I had a play to put up because I had a theatre. Yes, this is a bit extreme but it works. After I did this the first time, I continued to do it for years, probably 10 or 12 times. By booking a venue where my play would be performed, I had to complete the play.
Now this may not be the best method for you, especially if you are not a director, or a self-producer, but there is an important lesson here. YOU NEED A DEADLINE with some LEVERAGE! If not, time will probably pass by and your play may not get done for YEARS!
So how can you put a deadline with some leverage on your playwriting?
A playwright friend of mine would tell his wife he would buy her an expensive diamond ring, if he DIDN'T complete his play by a certain deadline. It worked for him a couple times until he realized his wife started to distract him from his work - so she could get that ring! But still, can you tell a friend of yours that you will take him or her on an all expense paid trip to Las Vegas if you don't finish your play by a certain date? Or make it an expensive dinner? Anything that will give you some leverage to complete your play!
Now leverage has to have some emotional component to it. If you are super rich, the money thing won't work for you. But even if you don't do a monetary leverage, what else can you use to put some fire under your butt so you can complete your work.
Try a really nice reward.
If you finish by next Thursday, you will treat yourself to a massage or take your partner out to an amazing restaurant you have never been to. Maybe you can book a trip for the summer, or go away for a weekend. But choose a wonderful reward that will help you make your self-imposed deadline.
So try Leverage and Reward, and get your work done!