Open That Drawer.
You know those writing fragments in your drawer? The ones you started in enthusiastic earnest many moons ago but which eventually fizzled into nothing (or at least, not the things you wanted them to be)? The ones you’ve been meaning to get rid of for eons now? Yeah, don’t do that. Because, honestly, you never know when they’re going to come in handy for writing a one-minute play. I shit you not.
Several years ago I was on the verge of tossing all of my writing fragments that went nowhere, but got talked out of it. There they sat for years and years more until recently, when I started work on my scripts for the one-minute plays. What the hell was I going to write about? That was my initial worry. But before I could start overthinking it I remembered my long-neglected fragments.
Within moments, I was flinging drawers open and quickly thumbing through frayed, yellowing pages trying to find a few specific items I thought might fit the bill. In no time, one of them was in my hand and leaping back into my consciousness. Ah yes, I remembered this one: I’d written it over a decade earlier after a particularly traumatic break-up. It was intended to be part of some cathartic literary opus I was hoping would be the be-all, end-all in youthful romantic angst. But looking at it now, it just seemed funny. The people in it were the kind of self-centered folks I now rolled my eyes at and mocked. Had I once been one of those folks? Yes. Back before I’d actually lived a little. I didn’t have time to be embarrassed, though, because I immediately knew I had the makings of a little one-minute comedy (I hoped).
More rifling through old pages. Before long, I had another little something, one of my favorites: the opening paragraphs of another long-ago abandoned novel. More youthful angst, this time more contemplative and not as operatic. Perfect for a more subdued and – dare I say it? – contemplative one-minute piece.
An hour later I had two scripts written and submitted, and a feeling of supreme accomplishment. All those years of writing purple prose had not been in vain after all. It turns out I’d written a couple of perfectly acceptable short plays. I just had to put a few years between me and those drafts to figure out what to do with them. Don’t get me wrong: they’re not great achievements in dramatic literature or anything. But I’m proud of them: they reflect both who I was then and who I am now. And I’m proud of myself for recognizing that – and for recognizing what I had stashed away in my drawers.
So the next time you’re hung up with writer’s block, open that drawer where you keep all your scraps. I guarantee you’ll find some treasure in there.