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Writing

Life of a Dramatist (Cont'd)

David Mamet

Lesson time 8:20 min

David experiences the self-doubt common amongst writers. Learn how he overcomes it and the one thing you should avoid in order to forge a path towards becoming a writer.

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David Mamet
Teaches Dramatic Writing
The Pulitzer Prize winner teaches you everything he's learned across 26 video lessons on dramatic writing.
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You know, it's an odd life. And it takes a lot of the ability to put up with uncertainty. And many, many people would rather put up with lethargy and would rather put up with failure rather than put up with uncertainty. It drives some people nuts. What do I do today? How do I start? How do I blah, blah, blah? And a lot of you guys are asking that question of how do I start. The answer is figure it out. Figure it out. You know, don't forget that you're human beings. When you've got something that you really, really want to do-- anyone-- you'll figure it out. Oh, well, I like writing. You know, it's been working out pretty well so far. I like writing as I do it for money. And if you've got trouble being motivated, do something else. You don't got to be a writer. Maybe you're not cut out to be a writer. Find out. You're entitled to find out. People-- there are all these novels written over-- used to be written for 100 years of a young person who said, I'm going to go to Paris to paint. And I'm just going to give it two years. And if at the end of those two years-- well, you're already done. Right? Like somebody who's got something to fall back on will fall back on it. Of course they will. It's like saying about young kids living together, they say they're living together. They're practicing being married. Well, they aren't. They're practicing being not married. Right? Because you're living with somebody, and so now, oh, she burned the toast. I thought she was the love my life, but she burned the toast. Obviously she's not the one. Thank you, honey. And so they get-- we get involved in serial monogamy, which is a practice for not me being married. And being married is OK, we took an oath. We're going to work it out. You know, so usually one person-- and that usually one person is always the wife-- saying don't you dare walk out that door. You know, we're going to stay right here until we work it out. It's just like with writing. Right? If you took that oath-- say, I'm a writer, I'm going to work it out. Stay in that chair until you work it out. [TYPEWRITER CLICKING] I did a few things with the great Jack Lemmon. And we were talking one day about growing up. He grew up in-- he went to Harvard. Grew up in Cambridge. And his dad was a baker. And he said, you know, my dad always said when I get up in the morning and there's no romance in a loaf of bread, I'm going to quit. I thought that was kind of cute. But I always feel that about-- I've been working on stages all my life. I was a kid actor in Chicago. I've been doing this for over 60 years. And I never come onto a sound stage or the back stage-- I'm sure you guys all feel the same-- without a feeling of being privileged and without a feeling of being grateful to be able to come in through the stage door or be able to come through...


Write great drama

David Mamet sat in on a poker game full of thieves and left with the inspiration for American Buffalo. Now, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer of Glengarry Glen Ross takes you through his process for turning life’s strangest moments into dramatic art. In his writing class, he’ll teach you the rules of drama, the nuances of dialogue, and the skills to develop your own voice and create your masterpiece.



Reviews

4.7
Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

David Mamet is an absolute genius. Thank you for making his thoughts on dramatic writing available to us. I learned a great deal that I will surely be mulling over for many years to come. Thank you once again.

After this class, I have a better way to think about the structure of any narrative. And I find the frequent references to writers, actors, etc., very helpful in providing touchstones to research further. Ruth Draper, for example. Had never heard of her. So the class was helpful not just for writing, but for broader personal development.

This class has given me a magnifying glass (fundamental principles of craft and story) through which I may better focus rays of light ( my desire to write those things that interest me) so that I can spark a campfire of story that draws people in and warms their hearts, minds, and souls with new discoveries about life and about ourselves.

I came to this class without being much of a David Mamet fan. Consider me a convert. His contribution to this course is invaluable.


Comments

A fellow student

Grounded in so much knowledge! I will be looping back to this just to catch the gems that missed me.

Myriam B.

Solid lesson. May come back to it. Commit. Figure it out. Have a go and see if it's for you. If it isn't, move on, do something else.

Dale U.

The three most important words I've learned from this class: Figure It Out.

Shayne O.

Great advice about you didn't enter the race. And you will have to expect to pay the price. pay in someway you would prefer not to.

Tom D.

I have greatly enjoyed this Master Class, loved the stories, and appreciated the honesty. Thank you.

Mia S.

"If you want to write for a living, what's stopping you? Nothing, because think about it. If you want to say, 'I want to write for a living but I want to make a lot of money at it' - well, you're not entering that race. It may happen or it may not happen, but you're entering a different race. This very concept goes back to the historical philosophy, where someone says, 'I work so hard, I want to be famous.' You did not enter that race. It was a terrible idea that came about in the turbulent 1960s that you can have it all. Why can't everybody have it all? Nobody can have 'it all,' but you might be able to have one thing if it's that which you desire more than anything else in the world, perhaps that you may have. You should avoid inaction. You can't afford inaction, can't afford waiting for the phone to ring. You've got to be writing all the time, acting all the time. I tell my kids in the business, you've got to do two things every day: Do one thing for you art every day, and do one thing for your business every day. One thing, that's all: write a letter, make a phone call, make a connection for your business. Get new cards printed up, think. It's your business. Nobody's going to help you but you. And do one thing for your art every day - write a scene; if you're an actress, take a yoga class, take a singing class, read a play. I like the challenge of the different forms."

Mia S.

"It's an odd life, and it takes a lot of the ability to put up with uncertainty. Many many people would rather put up with lethargy and would rather put up with failure rather than put up with uncertainty. It drives some people nuts. 'What do I do today? How do I start?' And a lot of you guys are asking that question - the answer is, Figure it out. Don't forget that you're human beings. When you've got something that you really, really want to do - you'll figure it out. If you've got trouble being motivated, doing something else. Maybe you're not cut out to be a writer. Find out; you're entitled to find out. 'I'm just going to give it two years, and if at the end of those two years...' Well, you're already done. Somebody who's got something to fall back on, will fall back on it. Of course they will. 'Don't you dare walk out that door. We're going to stay right here until we work it out.' It's just like with writing. Stay in that chair till you work it out. I have self-doubt as a writer all the time. If you're praising yourself all the time, you are definitely doing something wrong. I go back and forth between, 'This is the greatest thing anybody ever wrote' and 'Why was I born? I'm a complete fraud.' If you're making it up off the top of your head, it's not going to cost you anything. Just like a performance you work up in the mirror, that's not going to cost you anything. It's very grand, but it ain't art. Art is going to cost you something and that's going to cost you something you weren't prepared to pay. Obviously there's something of the destructive nature in the artist."

Blake Lawless

DM lays it out with a punch in the nose. How much you REALLY want to do it? We (aspiring Dramatists have to pay our dues. Perhaps a couple more times through these presentations and some time reflecting we will be successful.

jorge isaac

I am deeply grateful. I have learned, and I have been moved. It is a great class, and David is an outstanding teacher and model. Thank you!

Deborah B.

I tend to get stuck when I can't answer the questions my story ends up posing. From now on, I'll focus on The Spanish Prisoner not describing The Process and work on inference. Thank you.