1. Your stuff is not precious. It just isn’t. If you can’t cut your work, like really cut it, or watch someone else cut it, or if you get really angry or upset when your stuff gets cut, then you’re not ready for prime time. Pretty much my entire trade, I’m coming to believe, is about enduring rejection. If you can’t deal with rejection, trimming, editing, or cutting, then you need to go back into the incubator and come back when you can. Or don’t. Just don’t be precious.
3. Connect. Not everything has to be about you, but your best stuff will come from something you have an emotional connection to. I co-wrote a two-person show a few years back about Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston getting stuck on a desert island together and having to duke it out while Brad lay in a coma covered in palm fronds. It was my idea to do it, based mainly on my desire to see Jennifer Aniston really lose her shit on Angelina Jolie. But the idea didn’t come from celebrity worship alone. I sort of don’t care. But I identified with Jennifer’s helplessness and quiet rage, and so writing that emotion through her character seemed like it would be fun. Plus I had a friend who did a hilarious Angelina Jolie. So even though that material was “technically” fluff, the show did pretty well because it came from a connected place of honesty. So there.
4. Get to the point. My first drafts often have page-long set-ups that mercifully get killed in later revisions. But those annoying page-long set-ups are sometimes necessary for me just to figure out what the F I’m doing. Then later when I’ve figured it out, I can cut the meandering and get right to the point.
5. Try stuff. I am a big fan of brainstorming and just doing stuff and getting it out there and not thinking about it too much. This may come from my improv background. But I’ve also been involved with sketch shows that were brainstormed, written, rehearsed and performed all in one day. I love that process, and it’s amazing that at the end of such a long day, you can still leave feeling energized. That’s a big deal coming from an introvert.
6. Play with the right people. I love having a group of people to inspire me and to play with. I like collaborations, although I do also like writing (and sometimes performing) my own stuff. It can be hard to find the right balance, but you know when you do, and it’s totally worth it.