First draft advice from Tennessee Williams

I believe that the way to write a good play is to convince yourself that it is easy to do — then go ahead and do it. 
Don't maul, don't suffer, don't groan — till the first draft is finished. 
Then Calvary — but not till then. 
Doubt — and be lost — until the first draft is finished.
A Play is a Phoenix — it dies a thousand deaths.
Usually at night — In the morning it springs up again from the ashes and crows like a happy rooster.
It is never as bad as you think.
It is never as good as you think.
It is somewhere in between and success or failure depends on which end of your emotional gamut concerning its value it actually approaches more closely.
But it is much more likely to be good if you think it is wonderful while you are writing the first draft.
An artist must believe in himself — Possibly not so passionately as
[D.H.] Lawrence — but passionately. Your belief is contagious. Others say — He is vain — but they are affected. 
I have never had much of that faith — I have been a little too honest with myself and people.
Let us make up some brilliant lies! — No — let's don't — Let's fight it out the old way —

Today I have been writing well. I look in the mirror. My face is fresh and glowing. I look young again… 


[Still from a production of Williams late play Vieux Carre: in this picture we see a young writer character crouching, watching a good girl from privilege, Jane, who for her own desperate reasons has fallen in with a mean stripshow barker. It's as if he's watching himself learn about life.] 

[Quote from Williams' notebooks to himself, dated Sunday, 5 October l941, when he was living in New Orleans as a young writer]

Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

2 thoughts on “First draft advice from Tennessee Williams

  1. Loving your ongoing engagement with Tennessee!

    This passage especially – i think i’ll clip and save – and use with other writers when we’re moaning/gloating about our work-in-progress. . .


  2. Thanks for the encouragement. Lots more to come, I promise.
    Tenn amazes me. Just shows how far a shy person can go, even in showbiz, if he gets down to work…and keeps at it.


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