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.