Writing In Public

Oh my, yes, do go on.

Oh my, yes, do go on.

I can see the appeal of writing in public; creative writing, anyway.

Writing tends to be a rather introspective task. The process of writing involves a certain amount of inner planning and concentration that can sometimes require solitude to execute. So often I like to write alone, in a quiet place, away from other people: in other words I typically like to write in private.

But there’s something to be said about writing in public. For one thing, it forces you to maintain a different kind of concentration- a type of self-enforced solitude in the face of a social atmosphere. The extra work of concentrating on concentrating takes some of the pressure off concentrating on writers’ block. Anything that fights off writers’ block is OK by me. On top of that, though, writing in public occasionally drops little unexpected nuggets of inspiration in your lap.

I had to write a directing scene and I’d put it off long enough. I sat myself down and told myself to just do it: just start writing and the inspiration will come. When it comes to directing scenes I tend to backwards engineer my production: I find actors that I want to work with and I write something for them rather than writing a script and then trying to hold auditions. So I had three actors lined up and a potential location in mind, and a genre: comedy. All I needed now was a premise. The location I was hoping for was an office space so I Googled “comedy writing prompts office” and came up with the suggestion to write a scene about someone trying to deliver a letter of resignation to an overbearing boss.

This seemed like a good place to start.

So, how to write an overbearing boss? I had this idea in mind of having the boss loudly and forcefully carrying on a conversation over the phone during the first part of the scene. I wanted this to be audible off-screen from the very top of the scene so I needed a lot of conversation. I didn’t have the slightest idea what the conversation should be about. I wanted it to be a forceful conversation and, having just watched “Pulp Fiction” I wanted it to be… well, wordy.

Wordy is not something I do well.

I was contemplating this when I suddenly heard a voice:

Mike, Mike- what are you doing to me? You said- you fucking said in the email closer to twenty and now this?

The voice wafted into the office where I was working clear as a bell through the window overlooking the sidewalk just a few feet away. Just a passing pedestrian on his phone, I thought. I couldn’t see him- the windows were frosted for privacy, but I could see a dim shadow pacing back and forth along the sidewalk. His voice came and went with his pacing.

Mike! If you’d just put me in the same boat as you- you just treat me like this fucking button pusher! And I’m the one doing everything

I stopped listening and started transcribing.  I needed a forceful, one-sided phone conversation and here was one dropping into my lap: all I needed to do was capture it. I felt a twinge of guilt eavesdropping on a private (I presumed) conversation. Then I considered that the speaker was outside on a public sidewalk and speaking loudly enough to be heard through the windows of a building so it didn’t seem like he cared much who heard him.

Talk about a script writing itself.



~ by Gwydhar Gebien on April 1, 2015.

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