Three things I wish I’d known when I started out
The last session at the NSW Writers’ Centre Playwriting Festival in March was Three things I wish I’d known when I started out. I tend to shy away from giving advice (so easy for it to come across as platitudes or something ripped from the pages of a self-help book), but my fellow panellists offered great insights and useful tips. These were my three:
Don’t risk more than you can afford to loose.
Film abounds with tales of people maxing out multiple credit cards and mortgaging their houses, and most of those stories don’t have Hollywood happy endings. It’s less common in theatre, but still …
And it’s not only financial risk, but also creative risk. And emotional risk. You don’t have to share details of your psychiatric history or personal life because the publicist wants a marketing angle.
It’s never too late … to begin again.
Find your people, the sympatico colleagues and collaborators who get what you’re on about.
Don’t waste time knocking on doors that are—for whatever reason—firmly shut to you. And likely to remain so. Focus instead on the light spilling out from under the door, the bands of light around the edges.
It’s OK to bail out, hit the reset button, or abandon a project you’ve lost interest in. Who knows what else is waiting in the wings … ?
Write what only you can write.
I’d look at what kind of plays were going on and think: Yes, I’m going to write one of those. And I’d get to about page 5—and total anarchy would break out. I’d get bored and decide to introduce a flock of sheep or a singing microwave.
Don’t make the safe choices, dare to be unfashionable, nurture your inner maverick, write the world the way you see it. As Herman Melville wrote in an 1850 essay: ‘It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.’