Post by Ruth Burkett Weeks
Costumes vs. Pens— Grease paint vs. Ink.—Leading roles vs. Point-of-View—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.