Hit by a Bus Rules: The Write Stuff

Alandra Hileman, after a bit of a hiatus, returns.

Theatre Rule of the Month: Write It Down

I’ve been in a writer’s cave of insanity the last few months, so rather than a cohesive blog, here’s a series of the sorts of “shower thoughts” I’ve had about writing.

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One of the hardest things about stage managing is figuring out what to write down when. The stage manager should write everything down, of course, but sometimes you’re sitting there frantically erasing your blocking notes again as a scene gets restaged for the fourth time in as many days and you start to wonder if there’s a certain point before which you can safely not take notes. The answer is no, because suddenly in tech week that one offhanded comment from the first read will become absurdly relevant and necessary and you’re gonna pray it’s still jotted in the margin of your script somewhere.

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I don’t totally understand the Hemmingway-attributed quote “Write drunk; edit sober,” which people often pitch at me when I ask for block-busting tricks. Not like I don’t understand the principle of it, but…when I’m drunk all I wanna do is watch Futurama and play Marvel: Avengers Alliance on Facebook. Maybe it’s just my brain chemistry.

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I found a Post-It the other day as I was cleaning off my desk that had a very specific sequence of numbers on it, which I finally realized was RGB level adjustments for some set of photos I must have been editing at some point. I assume I wrote it down because I wasn’t doing the whole set at once, but it would have been really helpful if past-me had noted which photo-set it was for. This is why in my notebooks I’ve started writing project abbreviations in the upper corner; so that I can quickly flip through and find all the notes for any given project.

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Speaking of “shower thoughts,” I’m going to go buy some of those kids’ bath crayons so I can take notes in the shower. I’d get so much more done.

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By the same account, I need to start running a tape-recorder in my car, because I solve so many plot problems when I’m blasting down the freeway talking to myself, but usually by the time I reach my destination I can.

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I used to never write notes for things. Never in classes, never for stories or plays I was working on, and to be perfectly honest, when I first started stage managing I didn’t write things down nearly as much as I should have. I think that was where I really started to realized that for as good of a memory as I have, things will fall through the cracks, especially when you’re juggling being the cetral hub of information for not only your department, but everyone’s. I’m still really bad about just taking the moment to writing something down, but I’m trying desperately to get better at allowing myself that time, in every aspect of my life. Especially handwriting – there have been, if I recall, scientific studies which have show that handwriting notes helps us not only to remember things better but also to form our thoughts more coherently. I’ve been trying to take time to enjoy the note-taking process, and to apply the tricks I learned in stage managing on how to annotate an existing script to the process of creating one as well. It’s sometimes a weird hang-up transitioning from the world of executing a script vision backstage to creating said script for others to execute, but I feel like I’m starting to find my groove.

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This blog is the most productive procrastination I’ve had all week.

You can find more of Alandra’s “shower thoughts” on Twitter (@LadyBedivere), and find out about larger projects at ajhileman.com.

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