Yes, other writers can be your competitors but writing doesn’t need to be a lonely profession, if you decide sometimes to work with other writers. There’s strength in numbers and the support you can give, and get, is enriching and encouraging. After all, theatre should be a collaborative process which brings out the best in everyone involved.
But it needs work. You need to build up trust within your group and thrash out your shared aims.
Within a group there will always be some people you get on with better than others but different viewpoints and different styles of writing mean you can develop your own strengths as you will get unexpected insights and suggestions. You don’t have to go along with all the suggestions but…. That favourite scene that you think is brilliant? Maybe it just doesn’t fit. If enough people don’t think it works, they’re probably on to something. Throw it away. You’ve now saved yourself working on two or three extra drafts until you spot the problem yourself.
The issue of trust is crucial. You have to be able to trust the people you are working with and know that you all have each other’s best interests at heart. During the summer, we had a joint show which was on / off / on again because of the pandemic. Then everyone had to rewrite for outdoors instead of indoors, most places that were actually open wouldn’t take our paper flyers, rehearsing was difficult because of the weather and as it was my turn to be the producer, I was often ready to scream at the complexity of getting it on. But. Everyone helped when they could – including putting their names on a rota and bringing friends to help with the ushering and to thoroughly clean 45 chairs between each performance. Because it’s a collective effort. That’s what it’s about.
A group of writers who do their own work but also work co-operatively on joint projects are gold dust. You may disagree and have heated discussions, arguments even, but in the end you will have support in difficult times and shared joy in your successes.
BOLDtext Playwrights, established 2013 and still going strong. Julia Wright