The clock is ticking
As the city hosts a 24-hour playwriting competition, a 48-hour film project and more - the question to ask is whether creativity can be bound by time?
What is the nature of creativity? Can it be structured? Does following a schedule enhance it? These are some common questions that come up in the mind of any creator - be it in the field of writing, filmmaking, acting, painting and beyond. As a journalist, my relationship with time-sensitive projects (deadlines) is one of respect and urgency. We've grown together. And that's probably what gave me the courage to attempt my first NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in 2014. NaNoWriMo is an annual, online creative writing project that takes place during November, wherein participants attempt to write a 50,000-word manuscript during 30 days.
If you do the calculations, approximately 1667 words/day. Don't fool yourself into thinking this is easy; for you have to make space for it in your routine life of work-gym-social-etc. Fortunately, I played tough and completed the challenge three years in succession, 2014, 2015, 2016, and lately in 2018. I thoroughly enjoyed it each time, however, a thought that kept troubling me was that I was not getting the time to re-visit poor phrases, improve story plots or spend more time with the characters - I was focused on the word count and the ticking clock. "The perfect approach. This is the time when you hate and tame the editor in you and just get the work done," regulars remarked. A unique approach, after all, 50,000 words is better than nothing, right? Each year, various Dubai-based residents sign up this kind of insanity.
And that's not it, time-based challenges are not new to the city. The options have lately multiplied. Let's run through a few. The Dubai Writers Group's (DWG) sit-and-write-sessions are much-loved. DWG was founded in January 2005. Run ably by Skipper Zee, it's where you sit down with a bunch of writers and a clock - with writing prompts, opposite situation scenarios, point of view exercises - and get the words down in record time! I have attended some sessions and ran a few as well. A good way to overcome the writer's block, highly recommended. Looking to go bigger? Sign up for the eighth edition of Stage Write, a 24-hour playwriting competition. Sounds simple, eh? Show up at the venue and collect your character and situation cards; turn up your finished 10-minute play script within 24 hours. It's nerve-wracking, to say the least. The result, your script could make it to the Short & Sweet Theatre Festival 2020 in Dubai.
From the stage to the cinema, shall we? It was a couple of years ago that I watched the entries to the 48-hour Film Project, and now it is in its 7th year. One film that I remember in particular and loved was on the challenges of the competition. A local film challenge, it is also the oldest and largest timed film competition in the world. The tight 48-hour deadline puts the focus on the filmmaking, emphasising creativity and teamwork and "doing" instead of "talking." Well, can you make a film in 48 hours is a question you need to answer and then deliver! Over to you, your time starts now.
. Sit and Write Sessions, The Dubai Writers Group, alternate Saturdays; meetup.com/dubaiwriters
. Stage Write 2019, September 14, 11 am, The Junction, Alserkal Avenue; register at email@example.com
. 48 Hour Film Project challenge, October 17, 48hourfilm.com/dubai
. NaNoWriMo, November 1, nanowrimo.org