Near to Burst

It felt like I was learning how to walk or getting ready to ride my first roller-coaster. It felt like I was getting myself into something big, and I had no idea what I was doing. Writing for the first time felt like anxiety, excitement, boredom, pressure, success, and failure all bottled up together then shaken to burst like some celebratory bottle of champagne. It is just as joyful and satisfying as drinking celebratory champagne once you have a finished script in your hands.

I was once at a place where I dared not put pen to paper for fear of criticism. I was afraid, anxious, about others reading my work and not liking it. Trust me, there will be plenty of people who do not like your work, and there are others who will enjoy it immensely, and that is only natural. Not everyone has the same tastes or perspectives, and that’s OK. It can be difficult to get past that point, but get past it you must.

I had to. I remember writing my first short play. It was a ten-minute piece on memory. It was torturous. What will my characters’ names be? What will they do? Why is this particular moment in time important? And so on and on and on and on. So many questions about this-and-that can be overwhelming at times, but they help shape the play when you can answer them confidently. Criticism can best be seen as a way to help you find answers to these questions. Good criticism, that is; sometimes there can be bad criticisms, and you’ll figure that out in due time.

I found support and good criticism at Working Title Playwrights’s Monday Night Critique Sessions. Everyone there is a fan and practitioner of theatre. They are honest and direct. I remember feeling like a shaken bottle of champagne when I first submitted a script for critique. During the reading, I felt near to burst with nervous energy. During the talk-back portion, I felt relieved and enlightened. Having heard my words spoken by actors helped me hear my characters’ voices for the first time. Hearing the positive and constructive criticisms helped me see my play in an altogether different light. Indeed, I was more ready to write and edit than ever before.

Now, writing is a less anxious exercise. Now, it is much more thrilling, like riding a roller coaster for the second time.

– Justin Beaudrot

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