I am a solo musical theatre writer. While I acknowledge that theatre is a collaboration, I prefer to build my story alone before I bring in collaborators. This allows me a chance to get the full story/idea out of my head and onto paper. Then when it's ready for outside eyes, the feedback & critique process goes smoother.
The problem with that is that I usually have nobody to bounce ideas off of, except my husband and he only half listens. So I have to have a lot of faith in my ideas. Some may call it stubbornness, others may call it headstrong but either way, you have to have complete belief in the story you are telling.
The choice to write your story by yourself is a personal choice. If you do write alone, there are some Pros and Cons that will help you if you are aware of them:
Control over the creative process. You maintain complete control. You don't have to consult with anyone else and you don't have to clarify your ideas. This becomes an issue when you are stuck. When I get stuck, I turn to ChatGPT and start asking questions about the situation I am writing of and that always gets me back on track. I have also used social media and the internet to unstuck myself.
Scheduling. Writing by yourself allows for flexibility. If you can't sleep and want to write at 2am, you are free to do so. I also like to set specific times to write because I have found it forces me to be ready to write, which can sometime be grueling.
Consistency in vision. It's my story and I shouldn't have to run it past anyone for their feedback until it's ready for a reading. This allows me to get my idea out on paper as close to it is in my head before I start allowing collaborators to turn it into a staged production. This has always helped me eliminate those moments sitting in the auditorium and cringing because I never got the purpose for the scene correct before I allowed a collaborator to take it to the next level (which in several instances was not the story I was attempting to tell.
Limited Perspective. When working alone, I find that I have to completely understand the ins and outs of what I am writing which could lead to an uninspired scene or a lack of interesting elements as I fall back into my comfort zone. But by being willing to destroy what I create, I find that I'm still able to wring out the best drama from anything I write without feedback from others (at this early point of the project).
Skills. It's always possible that I'll paint myself into a corner and need a specific skill to get out of it. What happens if I don't possess that skill? Well.. by writing alone, I am forced to learn the skill rather than leaning on a collaborator to help. And even if I only learn "enough to be dangerous" I still have enough knowledge to gracefully get my point across. Once I bring in collaborators they will be able to push it to another level.
Isolation. Writing alone is lonely. And feeling lonely can stifle creativity and motivation. To get around this, I again turn to social media, books or just walk away for a while and let my brain settle down. It never takes long to get back to the task at hand.
I believe those are the main pros and cons of writing alone that I have experienced, but I would love to hear others' thoughts in the comments below!
Alan Saunders, WRITEineer.com
Friends told me I was late to the game for writing musicals, even though I've been writing them almost my entire life. so this blog is my journey into writing professionally for the stage.
Check out WRITEineer.com for how-to articles and resources for writing your own musical for the stage!