As you have no doubt heard by now, playwright and unemployed actor Aaron Sorkin recently broke his nose while writing. According to the Los Angeles Times, “Sorkin said he was working on a block of dialogue in the mirror when he accidentally head-butted himself.” Non-writers among you may scoff at this news—how could writing dialogue be so dangerous?—but nose-breaking is just the tip of the injury iceberg for playwrights.
1. Second Act Wrist. A stress injury that most often occurs in the days just after a playwright hears her work aloud for the first time and realizes she has a “second act problem.” Despondent, the playwright often copes by siting in a room, alone, muttering, her head buried in her hands, her weak wrists flexed beyond their usual capacity. This goes on for days. DAYS. Sometimes her wrists even snap clean right off. No kidding. I've seen it happen.
2. Nervous Hyperactorvention. In rehearsal, most playwrights are keen to give their director and their actors the space they need to do their jobs. But every so often, without warning, a case of Nervous Hyperactorvention strikes, and the playwright finds herself unable to shut the hell up. A playwright thus stricken may find herself giving line readings and suggesting that next time the director “read the [redacted] script before coming into the [redacted] room.” She may also drink all of the bottled water in sight.
3. Getting Punched In the Head. Both the cure for Hyperactorvention and an injury unto itself. Best treated with alcohol. Good thing you drank all that water!
4. La Emerging Writer Grippe. No doubt you recall Miss Adelaide’s Lament about how a single unmarried female, basically insecure, due to some long frustration may react with psychosomatic symptoms, difficult to ignore, affecting the upper respiratory tract? Replace “single unmarried female” with “anyone who’s been called an ‘emerging playwright’ for more than five years,” and you’ve got La E.W. Grippe. Keep a box of tissues handy.
5. Other People Paralysis. A sort of dead-eyed, frozen state, brought on by any number of things, like going to see the hot new play in town and realizing it contains an idea very similar to the one you’ve been working on; or like seeing a theater’s season announcement and realizing that your mortal enemy is getting produced yet again; or just by realizing, all of a sudden, how hard it is to write a play. Best treated by putting your head down and writing, dammit. Also maybe start some weight training for your wrists.