Years ago, I had a writing partner. We wrote screenplays.
Most of the time our process, quite efficient, was that Trevor would bang out a first draft of a scene and I’d do the second.
I would read what he’d written, secretly (or no credit to me, openly) despise it, and rewrite it.
The collaboration didn’t last, and that was my fault. I didn’t have enough respect for Trevor’s ability to type out the bad version of a scene.
I think there are two types of young writers.
1) Writers who agonize over every word, trying to make every single choice the correct one.
2) Writers who vomit out words, just getting them onto the page with little regard for whether or not they’re the right word.
Note the lingering bias in my verbs: agonize versus vomit, a vocabulary remnant of my writing-partner condescension.
When I was young I was an agonizer. My opinion of the young blurters was they didn’t rewrite, didn’t see the need for it. They were pleased with themselves. They’d crank out a first draft of a play over a week’s time and then wave it around, delighted with their work, certain of productions.
They were smug and they had time to frolic.
Which I did not. I was too busy sitting, not-quite paralyzed, finding the perfect word. I knew that my method was better, would eventually produce better art.
But I was wrong. Producing the first draft is the key to good writing.
You have to rewrite whether your first draft comes out fast or slow, so you might as well get it out fast. And it’s easier for a blurter to learn to rewrite than it is for an agonizer to learn to crank out that first draft.
Rewriting can be taught. There are rules that anyone can learn.
But forcing yourself to write badly? That’s actually hard to learn. It’s more akin to character change than it is to having a skill.
These days, I’m a more experienced writer. The main way that I’m more mature is that I’m capable of blurting, of tossing out a crappy version that I’ll make better. In a sense, I’ve become my own writing partner.
My apologies to the old one.Follow @playwrightnow