Playwright Winter Miller, who is teaching an intensive called “The Cure for Writer’s Block” at Primary Stages Einhorn School of Performing Arts (ESPA), discusses her writing process, the community of writers at ESPA and what she has learned from her students.Primary Stages: What technique or techniques do you use to get your creative juices flowing when you’re suffering from writer’s block? Where do you get your inspiration?
Winter Miller: This is a tricky one, and I’ll confess I’m far more skilled at getting other people’s creative juices flowing than my own. What I’ve learned to recognize is that sometimes, I need to step back because the well feels dry–it’s not–or it is–but in any case, it needs to be filled. When that happens I go look at visual art, I spend time in and looking at nature, and I try to nurture myself by being in community with other people and not isolating. Another thing I do is I make visual art. Sometimes I paint, sometimes I collage. One of the challenges of writing plays is going the distance from impulse to first draft to the sometimes long waiting period before you get to see the play on its feet. So sometimes I need something more immediate to reflect that I’m creating. I may switch forms and write song lyrics, or bad poetry, or short stories about my childhood.
PS: How long have you been teaching at ESPA?
WM: Three years? More? I can’t recall. But I have to say, I really, really like the students who come through this program. I’ve watched them go onto graduate school or onto making their own work on their own terms and it’s exciting to see writers grow from tentative to curious to bold. And then there are some writers who are already experienced and it’s great to see them getting out of their habits and trying new things. It sounds almost corny, but it’s a nice energy to be around the students here. Everyone wants to be in class, wants to grow and I think having a community of writers is really important. (more…)