For some, it takes an epiphany to compel one to write. For others, writing has always been an inclination since childhood. The latter is the case for first-year theatre and drama student Muhaddisah Batool. While at UTM, Batool has dipped her pen into different forms of writing.
Unusually, her play Beginning the Middle with the End, was written in one night after an interlude of writer’s block. The play is a story about a group of writers struggling to discover a story for a novel. In order to discover their story, they must uncover the perfect first line. Batool’s desire to write is similar to that of her characters: to only have her name on stories she feels proud of.
When The Medium sat down with Batool at Deerfield Hall to chat, she gave detailed advice to future and present writers on how to develop their craft. Her first comment of advice was simply to read. In grade nine, Batool felt that if she read, her writing would become polluted and unoriginal. However, the opposite turned out to be true. Once she allowed herself to enjoy the writing works of others, her creativity blossomed. Reading enhances a writer’s ability to recognize good or bad writing while also guiding a writer to find their own distinct style of writing.
For writers that are struggling with their story, Batool suggests doing an activity. A lot of writers have this perception that good writing comes from locking themselves away in a room and plunking the words out onto a page. However, according to Batool, this is counterproductive. Batool says she has gotten ideas in seemingly uninspiring activities from plane rides, washing dishes, to driving on the highway. She has found that the idle mind is stimulated while doing something physical, and so a writer should not be obsessed with constantly writing, but instead should be obsessed with doing.
Specifically to play writing, Batool cautions playwrights to remember what makes a play different from other mediums. Plays don’t solely act as stand-alone pieces. They are meant to be a guide from which other artists base their craft on.
Batool is also an actress, and so while she writes, she draws from her experience as an actress. She writes with certain intonations and movements in mind. However, the actors playing her characters will always add a personal touch to her ideas by bringing in their individual strengths and interpretations to her work. This makes sense since plays survive by actors reincarnating characters in diverse ways over time.
Batool’s last piece of advice for a playwright is to write plays for yourself. Yes, playwrights do write so that other people can read and produce their work. However, it’s impossible to please everyone. Thus, Batool advises that a playwright should write for, and please only, themselves.
Ultimately, this is why Batool writes. The most rewarding part of her writing is getting that story out onto the page and into a production for others to act out. Even if others may dislike her work, Batool places value in the ideals of self-expression and free speech for writers like herself.