Curate, Then Create

Thursday, September 07, 2023

Sometimes I get impatient and don’t let things marinate properly before diving in. Case in point. I wanted to enter a short play in a local play festival for Halloween. I didn’t have a 10-minute-play written, but had a short story I thought might work. I reformatted the short story, inserted simple stage instructions and setting, and read it aloud a few times. Then I went and read the submission requirements for the contest. (Yes, I should have done that first.) The theatre company only wanted five characters max. I had double that. I tweaked the play once more, condensing characters and turning a scene between two people at the end into one character talking into a cell phone. Then I dashed off the play via e-mail, one day before the deadline. Not surprisingly, my play wasn’t selected. I probably should have spent more time reading the submission guidelines and going over the play carefully before submitting. 

I also had to take a step back a few weeks ago when doing planning for my podcast. After taking a hiatus over the summer, I came up with the ambitious idea of batching two months’ worth of podcast episodes in the month of August, so I could begin running them in September. That planning came to a screeching halt. First, I needed to come up with ideas. Pulling from the skills I used to utilize as a magazine assignment editor, I opened my notebook where I keep all true crime notes. I sent out e-mails to prospective interview subjects. I scheduled an interview with one of my favorite local true crime authors. I consulted the calendar of national holidays to see where I could align episodes. I noticed National Cyber Security Awareness Month is in October and felt cyber crimes could tie into a podcast about missing people. I put a call out for experts and lined up calls (the site Qwoted was a huge help here). I looked at notes I’ve jotted down over the past few years and fiddled around with themes (such as “Missing South Carolina Kids from the 1980s"). At the same time, a friend of a friend asked if I would be willing to let a high school senior intern with me so she could get experience for her college applications. I outsourced another podcast episode to a freelance writer. See how much work it took just to plan a batch of scripts? It’s a lot. 

During the few weeks I was working on the planning, my head was spinning and I tried not to get discouraged. But I also felt the thrill of things coming together. It gave me a hope that someday I’ll be able to have a small team execute ideas and take some of the pressure of me. But I’ve also told myself it takes time to do things well, so curating before creating is necessary, no matter how excited we are to start writing.

Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer and creator of the true crime podcast, Missing in the Carolinas.


Sue Bradford Edwards said...

I'm revising a book on podcasting and it was interesting to see how you are developing ideas for your podcast. One of the things I found interesting in my reading was the idea of creating podcasts in seasons so that the podcaster can create content for two or three months and then take a break. I love seeing how different people work.

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