Putting it Together – Writing All The Time
Putting it Together is my Monday “artist talking about art stuff blog”. The title comes from “Sunday in the Park with George,” the best (and possibly only) musical that is entirely dedicated to an artist talking about his art. Is that pretentious enough?
The secret to becoming better at anything, they tell you, is practice. I don’t know who “they” are but “they” have a point.
If you want to be a better writer, you need to write every day. It feels a little bit like the theory of a million monkeys at a million typewriters except you are one monkey (more like an ape) with one typewriter (laptop computer) and if you type enough, brilliance will accidentally spill all over the page.
Hopefully it won’t be Shakespeare, though. That’s just plagiarism.
One of the things I do every morning is try to write a joke on Twitter. I’m not concerned about favorites or retweets, although they are nice, I’m more concerned about exercising the joke writing muscle every morning. I want to stretch it out and make sure it still works. Some days that joke muscle is nice and loose. Other days it is tight and stubborn.
The trick to writing all the time is to not care if anybody is actually reading what you are writing. Because most people aren’t. Checking the number of hits on your web page or likes on Facebook won’t tell you if you wrote something worth reading. It only tells you if you wrote something people noticed or cared about.
When I write blog posts, I hope people will read them because I hope they are interesting. Yet that can’t be the reason I’m writing them or I will stop writing. The point is to write. If you do it well enough long enough, you will find people who want to read.
I write this column to organize my thoughts about being creative. The ideas are interesting in my brain but I want to make sense of them on the screen.
I write my Alphabetical movie blog every week because I enjoy the exercise of writing something inspired by the film as opposed to a simple review of the film. The exercise becomes more personal and, therefore, more fun.
I write shit that pissed me off because I want to try to figure out how to wring humor out of news that makes me angry.
I write a comedy blog post because I’m supposed to be a comedian and comedians write comedy.
There is a specific purpose to everything I write and post, yes. But the main purpose is to just write something. Even if I don’t have another writing project, I have blog posts that are on a schedule. I’m forced by my own schedule to sit down and spend some time writing every day just to keep up.
As someone who is a scriptwriter and comedian, it is easy to think that I fall into a different category than friends who are novelists. Well of course novelists have to keep writing – their livelihood depends on that.
Scriptwriters, though, only have to write when there is a script to be produced. Unless they create opportunities for themselves, that need isn’t going to come up all the time.
When the need comes up, though, you have to be sharp. Someone is going to ask you to write something at some point and when they make that request, you want to be able to produce a script that will make them ask you to write another one.
I’d love to write things that people read. I’m a performer. I wouldn’t do that if I didn’t enjoy attention. I would hope over time my writing becomes something people actually look forward to reading.
Whether that happens or not, I know I need to keep writing. Writing must be more than a hobby if you want it to be a job.
Next week I’m going to write about the Fringe Lottery!