Today’s article is a guest post by Bryan Cohen. He is promoting his new book, 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts, Volume 2: More Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More. He has some fine insights into Shakespeare’s industry, so I encourage you to read and enjoy. And as always, Comments are appreciated.
How often do you work on improving your writing skills? Professional athletes can often be found at the gym strengthening their muscles. Doctors and other healthcare professionals attend continuing education classes to keep their skills sharp. But how should writers increase their writing ability over time? To answer that question, let’s look to one of the most famous writers of them all: William Shakespeare.
By 1593, Shakespeare started to find some success as a playwright on the British stage. Some of the first plays he had produced were Henry VI, Parts 1, 2 and 3. While the Henry VI trilogy has its moments, I’ve always found them to be my least favorite. I bunch those plays with Comedy of Errors and Titus Andronicus as Shakespeare’s early plays. Shakespeare was becoming more and more popular at the time, but he had yet to produce the work that we in the present day would come to define him by.
And then the theaters closed down. A wave of the bubonic plague came through and forced all big public gatherings, such as plays, to close down in 1593. No longer needing to focus on producing play after play, Shakespeare sat down to take on a massive four-year undertaking. During this time, Shakespeare wrote his sonnets. These short, immortal poems weren’t just a way for Shakespeare to pass the time. Writing these poems, which were jam packed with theme and character, helped Shakespeare to become a better playwright.
It’s no surprise that the plays Shakespeare wrote after he finished the sonnets are miles ahead of the Henry VI plays. Romeo and Juliet and Henry IV, Part 1 came around the time he finished the poems and both are timeless classics. While many more people are familiar with Romeo and Juliet, Henry IV, Part 1 introduces Falstaff, one of Shakespeare’s best characters. The character was so popular he appeared in two more plays, a sequel and a spinoff.
It’s possible that Shakespeare was always destined to reach great heights, but I theorize that writing the sonnets during a dormant theatrical period helping him to find his voice and his groove as a writer.
Not all of us aspire to reach the heights of Shakespeare, but almost all of us would like to make continuous improvement as writers. Think of ways for you to strengthen your writing skills. You could write one-page scenes or create mini character descriptions as ideas for future work. Maybe you could try describing a different room or location every day for a month. Whether you’re a working writer or not, practice still makes perfect. Figure out ways to train yourself to be a stronger writer and perhaps you can find your writing groove as well.
About the Author
In honor of his new book, Cohen is hosting the “1,000 Prompts, 1,000 Dollars” Writing Contest on his website. Click the link to find out how to enter!
Bryan Cohen is an author, a creativity coach and an actor. His new book, 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts, Volume 2: More Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More is now available on Amazon in digital and paperback format. His other books include 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts, The Post-College Guide to Happiness, and Ted Saves the World. He has published over 30 books, which have sold more than 20,000 copies in total. Connect with him on his website, Build Creative Writing Ideas, on Facebook or on Twitter.
Thank you, Bryan, for the article, and best of luck to you and your book sales!