Lanford Wilson–Pushing Through

There are many commonalities between fiction writers and playwrights. One is struggling with the first draft.

I found this quote in the book, “The Playwrights Process: Learning the Craft from Today’s Leading Dramatists,” by Buzz McLaughlin. The brilliance of the book is Buzz doesn’t tell you how to do it, he interviewed many successful playwrights and had them tell you how they go through the process.

Playwright Lanford Wilson parrots the advice of many successful novelists, playwrights, TV writers, Screenwriters, poets and game developers . The entire blurb would not fit on a meme, and is more specific to dramatic writers. Here it is:

I’m writing pages, I’m not writing a play. I’m writing 90 or 102 pages, that’s all I’m trying to do. I’m just trying to stack up work—in other words, to keep going. I edit only the previous day’s work and make a few changes there, and that helps me to get on to this day’s work. If something comes up and I realize, “Oh, that character shouldn’t be a man, it should be a woman,” I’ll make a note and go on as though I’ve changed all the first part. And then, as soon as I finish, I go back and change all that. When I get finished with a play, and I have it there, that’s when I say: “What in hell is this now?”

Lanford Wilson won the Tony Award for “Fifth of July” and won the 1980 Pulitzer Prize for “Tally’s Folley.”  I worked with him briefly at The Lark Play Development Center in New York. My favorite Lanford Wilson play and his most commercial success is “Hot L Baltimore.” He died in 2011.

How do you push through?

Let me know in the comments below.

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