I am working on a new draft of my current play-in-progress tentatively titled Philosophical Zombie Killers. I mounted a public reading of the play back in October, and after compiling a very healthy amount of amazingly cogent feedback from friends, colleagues, and general audience members, I decided that cosmetic changes to the existing script would not go deep enough, and that my best next course of action was to build the play up again from scratch. This is a daunting prospect: painstaking and awfully slow going. Nevertheless, I have been hacking at it since New Year’s.
Then a few days ago a colleague reached out to me regarding an opportunity to possibly develop the script with a very well regarded program; but I would have to get her a draft by Valentine’s Day. So I’d have to build the script from scratch but build it fast. What to do?
I started working sloppy. Instead of carefully building up the edifice from pristine newly minted parts, I occasionally go back to the old draft and grab stuff to jam into the gaps. It’s a bit like building a house using parts from the one you just tore down: a door frame here, a plumbing complex there, a scrap of tiling, that perfectly good but rust-stained claw-footed tub.
My discovery is that sometimes it’s good to get a draft down crappily, capturing the gist of your new ideas so quickly that you can’t fall in love with individual brush strokes. (See? I’m even doing it here, sloppily mixing my metaphors: “I’m building a house! I’m painting a picture!”)
There are two huge up-sides to working this way.
- It’s intoxicating reckless fun: the kind of fun you wanna keep having until it’s done.
- It’s easier to mercilessly murder your darlings when it’s time to go back and do your fine pass.
Of course, I could be wrong. Didn’t I just mention that this process is intoxicating? There’s always that chance the binge slips into blackout territory, and then-- oooff!--what a hangover!