(Today's tips on how to be a more productive writer come from award-winning playwright Adam Szymkowicz, who has written dozens of plays, the successful web series "Compulsive Love," a few screenplays AND a couple of TV pilots. We worked together as writers on a TBS sitcom. In February, he will be offering a class in NYC on writing a web series. And I am thrilled he was willing to share a few of his creativity secrets.)
5 TIPS FROM PLAYWRIGHT ADAM SZYMKOWICZ
Some things I do when I'm stuck or need a burst of creativity...
1. People talk about showers as places to come up with ideas. Something about the tactile nature of it. Showers are great b s\ut you can only take so many showers. Something that works as well for me as a tactile idea generator is sitting in front of a fan, especially in the summer. I like to lie in bed with my bare feet near the fan. But you figure out your way.
2. Gingko Biloba. I like to take one of these pills on days when I want to think more than normal. It increases blood flow to the brain—I don’t take it if I already have a headache or are hungover because the headache will get much worse and if I take too much it decreases my response time and makes me spacey, but on a day when I want to get something done and don’t have to be anywhere, it’s great. NOTE: There are some side effects so you should check with your doctor first if you have health issues or are taking other medications.
3. Writing when half awake either first thing in the morning or when I wake up in the middle of the night often allows me to bypass the inner critic. For some reason, he’s not awake yet. And I’m still in touch with some of the strands of the subconscious from the dreamworld. The walls are down and I can write and not worry so much whether it’s good yet.
4. Sometimes I think about what I’m working on before going to sleep. You could work it out in your sleep and have a solution in the morning or stay awake figuring it out. If I figure something out in bed, I better get up and write it down immediately. Just because it’s there now doesn’t mean it still will be in the morning. Also in this half awake state sometimes it’s a good idea to write some more. See #3.
5. I haven’t done this in a while but sometimes if I want to break out of my normal modes and language habits, I will use google translator to translate something I’ve written into Korean and then back into English. Or you can even do English to Korean to Greek to Mongolian back to English or something more complicated of your own device. I use it as a way to open up language sometimes. It’s not for writing reports but it’s better than a thesaurus for cracking your brain open. “Cracking your brain open” can become “Open your mind CRACKS.” Sometimes I need to open my mind cracks.
Adam Szymkowicz studied playwriting at Juilliard and Columbia. The New York Times has called his plays, “sweet, sexy, neurotic friendly,” “fabulously weird and weirdly fabulous,” “weird but likable,” “hysterical,” “unabashedly silly but also shrewd,” and “disturbing but touching,” and the LA Times said, “exhilarating, nerdy-sexy, and silly-smart.” His plays are published by Samuel French, Dramatists Play Service, Original Works Publishing and Playscripts. He runs a blog where he has interviewed over 625 playwrights. www.aszym.blogspot.com. The first season of his web series, "Compulsive Love" is now online at www.compulsivelove.com. He's teaching a class in web series writing in NYC starting in February. http://www.primarystages.org/