Dissecting some thoughts about writing.
By Shoshana Greenberg (Lyricist/Bookwriter)
1. Being a Writer
When people ask me what I do, it's easy just to say, "I'm a writer." I don't mean that, though. I try to say instead, "I write." If I want to be more specific, I say that I write musicals, plays, and prose (or, blogs). I don't want to be a writer because I don't want to be defined by what I do. I want to be a person who writes.
I often get distracted from writing because I start watching a TV show and can't do anything else until I've watched the next episode of that TV show... and then the next. I've combatted this distraction by channeling what I love about the TV show and characters into what I'm writing. Does the show feature a couple I want to get together? I write a love song. Is a character going through a difficult time? A ballad. I have written some of my best and favorite work this way, and I have these TV shows and characters to thank.
I like deadlines. The best deadline is having to be somewhere. I start writing roughly 10 minutes before I have to leave my apartment. About 20 minutes later, I'm running out the door but I've gotten a nice chunk of writing done. And that is the story of why I'm often 10 minutes late.
4. Loving Characters
I care deeply about certain characters, and I've often asked myself why. What is it about them that makes me care? Yes, as the rules of playwriting go, these characters WANT something, but I don't love all characters that want things. I think it's the same thing that makes me care about real people: I want them to be happy. There's something very human in a character searching for happiness.
Two characters from Sports Night who want to be happy.
If a character is searching for happiness, then part of that character is unhappy. For readers/audiences to accept and relate to this unhappiness, they would have had to experience unhappiness, themselves. Therefor, my job as a writer depends on people being, at least at some point in their lives, unhappy. This makes me sad, and I feel a little guilty. I don't want people to be unhappy!
The more limitations writers are given when writing, the more freedom they have, right? I'm not sure that "freedom" is the correct word. What I love about limits is that I DON'T have freedom. I'm not mulling over every possibility. Yes, limits can sometimes FREE the writer's mind to write, but perhaps a better word choice is "direction" or "productivity," or a word that implies "taking action," not a word that implies "all possibilities."
7. Comparisons and Motivation
People say not to compare yourself to other writers, that everyone evolves at his/her own pace and success can come at any time. This is true, but sometimes I compare myself to others to motivate myself to work harder, write more, and keep on top of opportunities. It's like running: running with faster runners makes me run faster.
The minute I receive a rejection, I try to write something new as a sort of "Take that!" to those who rejected me. It doesn't always work. I'm not always able at that moment to do so or in the mood, but when I do it I feel great and quickly forget about the rejection.
Writers are in complete control of their time. Writer's block aside, they can always start a new piece without waiting for anyone or anything. This also means, however, that any "free" time I have can be used for writing, so any "free" time I'm not writing means I'M NOT WRITING! I've started scheduling "non-writing time," as though I had a checklist and an item on it was: "Relax in front of computer: 30 minutes."
10. Being the Best
Many people write, and someone will always write more or write more quickly or write with more facility or use more clever rhymes. But the comforting fact is that no one can ever TRULY be better than you because only you can write your stories the way you write them.