6.10.2008

Let It Be Easy


This is something I've been thinking about for a while now. I tried to find the article I had originally read it in, but the internet isn't cooperating. It was an interview with Peter Krause -- for what, I can't remember, I think it might have just been a profile piece. Anyway, in part of it he spoke about working on Arthur Miller's "After the Fall" on Broadway.

This was before Miller died in 2005. I can't remember the extent of Miller's involvement in the production, but he was at least there for some of the rehearsals from what I remember of the article. Krause was having trouble with one of the moments they were working on, and he recounted the interaction he had with Miller:

Miller came over to him during a break. Krause spoke about the trouble he was having. And Miller responded, "Let it be easy."

I'll never forget reading that, because I can only imagine Krause having the same response that I did when I read it. Confusion. Denial. Smack to the forehead -- realization. In about seven seconds.

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DOING YOUR WORK FOR DUMMIES
(aka: those who haven't written ground-breaking works yet):

1. Don't argue with Arthur Miller.

2. It's harder than it looks, but it's also easier than it feels.

3. Quit getting in your own way.


There's usually been a point in almost every script I've written since reading that article that I've had to rediscover that epiphany. And I've seen it time and again in other writers. It's like a writerly common cold. So a few thoughts for myself, and anyone else who's been kicking their own ass a bit too much lately:


Self-fulfilling prophecies have a 100% success rate. So if you're telling yourself you can't do it or that what you're doing isn't good enough, then you're halfway there.


It's amazing that if you just breathe and look at what you're doing instead of focusing on what you're trying to do, windows can open.


Necessity is the mother of creation. If you need to write, if your script is wounded and needs to recover, then it'll happen. You just need to write, remove all those blocks, and let it happen. And then rewrite till it actually works.


Sometimes -- sometimes -- if something seems too hard, you might just be part of the problem.


If you give something permission to be easy, best case scenario it'll get easier, worst case scenario you just adopted a more positive perspective.


If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right.


Not all babies are beautiful: If your thrilling idea is burning to the ground and all your efforts seem to be simply adding wood to the fire, then break it back down to its essential pieces, find the pleasure in it again, and build it back up.


Misery loves company. So introduce it to elation and fuck-all and get moving.


Ockham's Razor isn't the latest 6 blade shaver from Gillette. As all roads to success lead to the same place, the easiest path is nothing to scoff at -- and sometimes, it is the best approach.


If you're killing yourself trying to make something work, step away. Take a breather. Take a walk. Take a nap. I believe it was Asimov who said that you can't solve a problem with the same mind that created it.

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I'll finish with an important caveat: Something that's too easy, well, it probably is. We've all had ideas that were amazing and popped out of our heads fully formed, only to find that the next morning they look, smell and taste like shit. I know, pretty -- but true.

When following Miller's Paradigm (eh?...eh?....), this should pertain to something that isn't, in fact, easy. We just don't need to make it any more difficult than it actually is. We all know writing is hard, I just think it's good to remember every now and then that sometimes we take a little too much comfort in that.

So if anyone else has been in my boat recently and you're sweating the details and missing the joy of it all, then join me in pondering Miller -- and in imagining the look that Krause must have had on his face and hoping that it's also creeping up on our own mugs.

ps. Feels good just say it: Let it be easy.

3 comments:

Erika Anderson said...

Thank god for this. I think I might copy this and paste it on my wall. You sound like a writing therapist. Do those exist? Are you creating a new role?

I was noticing breath coming back into my body as I read one suggestion after another.

I'm so tricky with myself sometimes that I don't even notice it. I've been trying to squeeze out the end of my first draft as if it were the last globule of crest from the plastic tube.

No more tube. No more crest.

Thanks, A.

Jen said...

I meant to tell you sooner, but this is a great post. I am forever making things unnecessarily complicated for myself and creating new elaborate ways to get in my own way, so THANK YOU ARTHUR MILLER (and you, Adam) for the reminder that this is not the only option. It doesn't have to be hard.

adam _______________________ said...

Absolutely. Doesn't need to be that hard. I also need to be reminded of this. A LOT. Which is why I posted it.