Tag Archives: crowdsource

Wanna Write? Gotta Write.

This is a companion piece to a piece I wrote about treating the artistic process like an industrial/mechanical one over on Jesse Abundis’ ARTISTS UNCENSORED blog. That post was inspired by a request for inspiration, and its response, below:

First, what is it to be “in the zone”? I had written about being in that precise place in this blog entry, which I posted a day or two before. Being in the zone is comparable to flow.

But it doesn’t always come easy, and sometimes it just doesn’t come. Sometimes – often those times – there are external conditions necessitating a piece be written. It’s for a magazine or a website, or a class paper. You want to make sure you have a relevant piece of writing on your site when visitors from another blog come calling.

In this hypothetical, we’ll say the situation is this: an article you wrote on another site is being  published, and you want to talk about how writing something on demand is a skill writers need to develop.

That’s when you rely on your craft, your writer’s toolkit. That’s when you force yourself to be disciplined and focused.

Cancel plans.

Jot down ideas.

Make an outline. (God I hate making outlines.)

Take a break. Come back, look at what you’ve written. Evaluate it. Re-arrange your ideas.

Then trust yourself and start writing.

You may delete every word for an hour. You may feel self-conscious about every point your argument strikes. You will, I guarantee, have to go back and read the thing multiple times, probably print it out, possibly even read it aloud – and add and delete sections that you missed or rambled on in the first time around.

In the end, you’ll have written something. Your best work ever? Maybe not. Something that communicates your point? Hopefully.

The process is more complicated in a creative endeavor – more the territory of writing exercises and accessing your subconscious than just working with craft, because a writer’s emotional connection to their work is so clearly reflected in it.

Capturing that lightning in a bottle is a blog entry for another day.

A Grand Design – Cover Art Input Needed

Last week, I announced my intention of publishing my produced plays, to date, on Amazon. Given that the plays are in performance-script stage, and putting them together is largely a matter of technicalities, I started planning my cover design – because that’s really what I need at this point.

I spent a few minutes discussing my ideas with a co-worker (happy to name him/link to his tumblr if he sees this and would like, but also want to respect his privacy) and his perspective as a graphic designer was (as the opinions of graphic designers always are) quite useful.

Basically, he confirmed my feelings: my produced plays should have a unified look, which meant a unified design that can stretch across multiple plays (while also separating them from my other fiction).

So I started looking at the published plays I own. Here. Have a look:


(And yes, that is my foot in the corner.)


So, these plays. I could talk about these plays a LOT. Like seeing David Tennant for the first time in PUSH UP, and thinking, “Man, he just LEAPS out from every single other person on the stage.” Or how much it meant when Jo Clifford, who was my MFA supervisor in Edinburgh, personally addressed a copy of EVERY ONE to me. Each of the other plays has its own story; if people want to read, I’m happy to blog them in the lean times. Or maybe they deserve their own book.

Anyway. So, having studied the plays, here were my thoughts:

1. Samuel French and the Marlowe both demand that the reader know the playwright before purchasing. The newest of the plays, Ali Smith’s The Seer, was probably a well-performed piece, the play’s blank title and lack of imagery doesn’t really speak to me; I saw it (probably reviewed it) but the blank cover doesn’t give me any kind of aide memoire. I don’t remember much about The Seer, or ever feel inclined to pick it up. No good for a newish playwright, then.

2. The black-and-imagery with the colored spine of the NHB releases speaks most strongly to me as a reader. The images are evocative. They feature live performance stills – and this is where my plan to use these as the template falls down. I don’t have live performance shots of all these productions. I could do video capture stills, but…

3. A number of plays (Clifford’s is just an example) featured imagery rather than literal representation of events portrayed in the script; Yazmin Reza’s DESOLATION is another example of this. (Reza, for those who don’t make the immediate connection, also wrote ART). THE NIGHT SHIFT by Mark Murphy is somewhere between items (2) and (3), with a stylized image that evokes the mood and staging of the play, if not the literal photos one might expect to see.

Where did all this bring me?

The following four versions of an image. Your thoughts would be much appreciated. I’ve settled on the basic elements: the lefthand colorbar and wash over the rest of the image (color will probably change from one play to the next) and the representational photography, but the way those are used, the photograph itself, the fonts that the play names (which, for those who want to know are POST, Playing it Cool, Stuck Up A Tree and Mousewings)…those are all open for discussion.

But I’m trying to make a basic template. And I’d appreciate your input. Here’s what my ideas amounted to on Thursday night:

Please share this on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit…anywhere you think might be useful. Opinions on this one are crowd-sourced. Let me know what you think, and know your thoughts are appreciated.