Week 4 of the David Mamet Teaches Dramatic Writing Masterclass was my favourite week so far even though it was the shortest. Why was it my favourite? Because anything that has an immediate and direct positive impact on my life is a quality product. And this week, David Mamet got through a writing slump.
I wouldn’t say I’ve been suffering from writer’s block. But I would say I’m drained.
My energy is the lowest it has been in a long time. This is mainly due to the stresses of moving to new country, becoming a citizen, and getting a new place. Things have settled down now but, after a stretch of not writing, I found it hard to get back into the groove.
Feeling at a loose end, I decided to make myself a bowl of cereal and watch the latest David Mamet lectures. I wasn’t even one minute into the first lecture before I felt like slamming the bowl of cereal at the wall and rushing back to my desk to write furiously.
David Mamet said the exact right thing at the right time to get me writing again.
David Mamet Teaches Dramatic Writing MasterClass Review
Mamet gave me three essential questions that every scene must answer. Simple questions, with a wonderful elaboration and examples from Mamet, but with a profound impact on my writing.
These questions were the oil that got my writing gears whirring again.
Mamet expounded on how to create urgency in a scene and how to know when and what to cut.
After that, we got into the topic of the writing lifestyle and process.
It felt like this week was supposed to be a bit of a refresher, kind of a cool down from the long previous weeks, but these lessons and the advice they contained, though simple, proved to be the missing piece in my current writing set-up.
I got the most value from Mamet discussing the balancing act of the writing process, which consists of a lack of distractions but also ample leisure time in order to write.
They seem to be to contradictory things. Leisure is distraction. And yet, the more I thought about it, the more I realised I was at my most focused whenever I had regular leisure time that fed my artistic soul. No leisure? No focus. No creativity.
“A lot of my writing just consisted of taking a nap because sometimes you just get burned out.” – David Mamet
I loved hearing Mamet scorn various parts of the writing world.
He scorns the computer and instead recommends:
- nice paper
- a typewriter
- a beautiful fountain pen
- doing a million drafts and having them all in front of him
He scorns stories with messages. Drama is “dream time”. You want to conceive of stuff that doesn’t have a rational solution.
And he also scorns himself and his lack of discipline. It was so comforting to know that David Mamet has the same inner turmoil as me as a writer – he scolds himself for just staring at the screen or walking around or taking a nap instead of writing and scolds himself for not having enough discipline (like Anthony Trollope).
If you haven’t signed up to the David Mamet MasterClass yet, do it here.
I could rave about this masterclass for hours. But you won’t get any value listening to me scribble a quick run-down of the course. If you’re interested, pick it up.
If you love Mamet and you’re ready to learn, you’ll love it.