A friend and I were discussing manifestos one day & so I wrote this as a note to myself for encouragement, as a set of reminders to myself. The first section is reminders to me on how to live, the second is some thoughts on story structure.
I’m posting it here to combat the blank page.
stay human. stay strong, drink water, eat food, exercise, get moving, get sunlight and real air. listen to people around you, listen to the day and be open to what’s happening. listen. breathe deeply and fully. live fast, do more, love recklessly, give more, give generously. smile easily, but lean into the heartbreak. don’t be cool, care openly, say everything. remember names. be more interested in people around you than you are in yourself. try new things that you aren’t great at, and don’t pretend to be great at it. don’t pretend, dismiss posturing. work hard. read the best ideas, stories, and textures available to you. if you do something (work, whatever), put yourself into it and do it well, but not so that it encroaches on your writing hours.
put in the hours every day–fuck your excuses and consolation. put in endless hours and dive into where it is difficult. don’t talk too much about what you’re writing. if that’s what happens do you, lock yourself in or run away. put in long hours and master the work. wear yourself out once on the work every day. if you haven’t put in the time in the morning, stay up late and start earlier the next day. quantify and record your progress. don’t kid yourself. say no to people. give things up in order to make your writing happen because it matters to you. lose sleep over it. obsess and then dream about it. want it more than people around you and then wake up and pray for a deeper hunger and want for it. dismiss balance.
steal every day boldly–take the greatest stories and gut out what is the best in them and chew on and spit out the rest. give them a richer, sharper, faster, more textured, more beautiful, language. more powerful more dangerous characters. funnier situations, a rawer everything every step of the way. steal the best words, the best characters, every hard fought solution and idea, take it to serve your story.
invent every day boldly–take the difficult choice, make the difficult connection, make it more cruel, more loving and vulnerable, more vicious and violent, more sexual, more intelligent. find a new bold way for it to happen. give it all more. don’t be afraid to burn everything on the stage to the ground and kill everyone there. look for opportunities to burn everything on the stage to the ground and kill everyone there. destroy everything. let your play travel far distances. change everything. don’t be afraid of anything, identify every door you fear and dive in. spare no expense.
on story structure:
things should happen— establish and communicate where we stand. where we’re starting. what the characters value. who is who and what everything is. then change everything, anything that is important should change. let the audience in on what that change is and know for yourself why it happened.
things should happen for a reason— anything that happens should be caused by something which is caused by something which is rooted in an inherent tension in the initial circumstance. characters make choices which are preceded by hints and impact the action of the play, and which cause things to change. choices must seem necessary to the character, and may seem improbable to the audience.
opt for the more dramatic choice— /ambitious/fun/faster/spectacular choice.
let the audience in on the actions that are happening. obscure some of the reasons and motivations.
organize and unify the action of the play. conflicts, actions, dialogue, it all mirrors each other, it all is a part of the same through-line. there is some sort of internal logic to it all.