Writing can be one of the hardest things for a writer. It isn’t helped by your own sense of sprawling ambition, which can equally hold you back if you get too caught up in what something should be, versus what you’re – in fact – creating.
This year, I’m sitting down to write my first one-man show in half a decade, and I’ve purposefully set up at least two performance dates for my show in 2010: one this Friday for the month of January, and the next one a month later in February. I plan to keep this schedule up, and intensify it as I get further along, until I have a 30-60 minute script ready to present to an audience. I’ve done this to give myself a deadline as a writer, to create a schedule for myself as a producer, and to keep the juices flowing for myself as a performer. And I’ll be completely honest with you: I’m incredibly scared to have committed to this kind of process. What I’m sure you’ve also noticed is that part of it includes regularly presenting what I’m working on to an audience. For many writers, this essentially amounts to career suicide.
However, that’s also another part of the reason why wanted to do it. It’s easy – when you are writing, or acting, or producing, or even blogging – to constantly be revising in private. I think for anyone in the arts, it gives him a sense of productivity, without a need to show something for his efforts. Case in point: Guns N’ Roses’s Chinese Democracy. After a decade of build-up, most people severely disappointed with what GnR produced. The album created a mystique for itself, and an anticipation for something amazing, but because Axl Rose kept DELAYING the album’s inevitable release, I’m sure it got away from what he originally wanted to put out. His fans, while happy to finally see Chinese Democracy on iTunes, couldn’t help but feel like they got less than what they hoped for. This isn’t uncommon, albeit in this case bizarre. If you love something, of course you want it to be the best. And, in the case of a solo vehicle consider the stakes:
*It could create more career opportunities for me as a performer.
*It could create more career opportunities for me as a writer.
*It could change the way other people see me as a comedian.
*It could simply just be “something I wrote” if none of the above happens for me.
Risky, obviously; so much so that I’d want everything about this show to be perfect, just so it can have some kind of positive impact on my career.
But here’s the rub, my friends: you can’t control how anything you create – whether it’s a script, a film, a play, or even a resume – is going to impact your career. All you can do is do it, put it out there, and listen to your instincts. A producer I worked for put this way: think of your career as playing baseball – success or failure, you still have to suck it up, get back up to bat, and try for something great. And as long as you never give up, you’ll always be staying busy and productive.
If you ask me, sounds like a much better plan than waiting 10 years to release “the perfect album”.., though, for the record, I think “Better” is a great track.