Process vs Product

I find that embracing a philosophy that focuses on process over product helps me fight the blank page. By doing so, I am able to take the pressure off of the product. I frequently tell myself, “Dana, this play is not about this play, it is about ten plays from now. You will learn something you didn’t know you needed to know and won't know that you know it until you have gained distance away from this current play. So, Shug, just keep writing.” 

As I write more plays I am finally seeing some of the benefits of this advice. I recently finished a new play called “The Labeler”. I had not nailed down the major question of the play. It had three major questions. The young Dana would have diligently kept working on the outline until that question was found. The Older Dana, who is super cute by the way, was able to leave the questions open, so she could find one that resonated with the play after the first draft had been completed. This allowed for the right brain to play. With this freedom, I ended up with something the left brain could be proud of, which is a product that it could then manipulate, change, and apply dramatic theory to. It then could submit to things to hopefully push my career forward. Right Brain is happy because it got to play. This was one of the more easier processes I have completed due to the joy given to me by this new freedom.

What does this all mean? For me, process must be open ended and not concerned with product. But here is the real hard part. I will not start my process without a concrete deadline for a product. As I have been reflecting on my process over the past month I have found that I am focused on my process when working toward a product. Then I must force myself to remember that a product is not a destination but a mile marker on the journey of any project. There is always one more draft. Always. So, Shug, keep writing, it’s not about the Labeler, or what ever current project you are excited about, even though it feels like it. Remember, Dana, it's about ten plays from now.

 

The Website

Those of you who know me, know that besides being a playwright I am a preschool teacher. I am continually amazed at the lessons I learn from the threes, fours, and five year olds that teach me. One of the biggest things is how they inspire me to be open. By open, I mean, they show up with their curiosity in hand. I admire how it allows them to embrace play. How they are less interested in a product and really way more invested, and I mean invested, in the journey.

So often in the art world, in my playwriting world, I must remind myself of this simple truth. Products are something that are an artifact of the craft. This artifact is something that is mistaken for the craft. But really is something that was left behind as the creator continued on. The commitment to the continual process of the craft is to embrace the joy of play. It is about the journey, the process of doing.

Which brings me to this very website. I have been writing plays in Chicago for six years. When I first got here I made a website. Put pictures in, all of that stuff. Wrote a blog post about arriving in Chicago. But it wasn't perfect. So I made a different one the following year, still it lacked that perfection that was going to show the world my brilliance. There was no important artifact. The next year, I thought about it but didn't even attempt. Soon I didn't even think about it anymore. My perfection convinced me to give up a tool that is necessary in my profession because it said the website lacked whatever grand idea it needed to make me brilliant. So, I stopped even trying to articulate my idea of what Dana's website would be. The result... no journey... no attempt... nothing to tweak... nothing to... well, play with... until today.

This website does not have to be perfect. It is a process. I'm going to play. 

Please enjoy tooling around on the site.