Post by Ruth Burkett Weeks

Costumes vs. Pens— Grease paint vs. Ink.—Leading roles vs. Point-of-View—Acting vs. Writing.

Acting vs. Writing

Long before I became a professional writer, before Soldiers From the Mist and The Rook and The Raven, I dreamed of being a professional actress. To achieve this goal, I studied drama at the University of Arkansas and became a member of the Rogers Little Theatre (a local community theatre). Alas, I never made it to Broadway or Hollywood, but I did perform in quite a few productions.

In order to become the memorable character actor that I am, I learned to literary step out of my shoes and into those of my character. While on stage, Ruth disappeared only to be replaced by the many personalities of the characters I portrayed.  Everything I saw, thought, touched, and smelt was from the viewpoint of the character I became.

Sound familiar?  The same holds true in writing.

While writing, me, myself, and I fall completely head-over-heels into the mind and life of my point-of-view character. Ruth fails to exist. Instead, I transform into a Confederate soldier. Fly. Conjure. Shapeshift. Walk through dimensions.

People often ask me how I can sit for hours and just write. I’m going to let you in on a little secret–I don’t really write.  I create. Creativity doesn’t punch a time clock, has no knowledge or even cares about housework, bills, or bedtime. Creativity defies man-made rules and spits in the face of boredom.  That’s how.

Which do I like better?  Acting or writing?  It’s a tie.

Often, while my fingers are busy typing, I act out the scene I’m working on.  I talk out loud, gesture, and sometimes pace the floor. My fellow sisters can attest that when I read out loud, I actually talk in the dialect of my characters.  A  smooth Jamaican accent as Madame Katanga, a lazy Southern drawl with Bethany Ann, or a lyrical Irish brogue as Big Mike.

What about you?  Do you act out your scenes?  Next time you flirt with writer’s block, try acting out. Wear a cowboy hat. Put on ruby-red slippers. Sip a mint julep on the veranda. Howl at the moon.

Acting out does a body good. (And it works wonders with your story, too.)

So, as you can see, there is little difference between a successful actor and a successful writer.  It’s all the same. It’s all connected.

Creativity, of any sort, just works that way.  And I love it.


7 thoughts on “THE STAGE AND THE PAGE

  1. Yes! Connection. That’s the key. I become the character which creates the deep point of view that allows the reader become the character.
    And, yes, I confirm the assertion that, when you read, I often look up to see just where Ruth has gone. You ARE the character.

  2. Great post Ruth. Actually I do act out scenes and often in front of a mirror to note facial expressions and body movement. It really helps when I’m stuck trying to decide “just what would my character do in this situation.”

    And it also gives me an excuse to get my rear out of the chair for a few seconds. 😉

  3. I like nothing more than to “step into” one of my characters, Ruth. Your post makes me wonder if taking an acting class would help me write better, deeper. Hmmm…may have to add that to my bucket list. 🙂

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