How to write a One-Person Show in 30 days.

Do you have something to say?  Why not do a show about it?

I don’t care if you’re an actor, a writer, a comedian, or just a person with an opinion and a passion to get that opinion out in the world.

Too many writers I know (and talented ones at that) aren’t writing.  Too many actors I know aren’t acting.  And too many producers I know aren’t producing.

Most of them are waiting for the “perfect” idea . . . something that will be the next Hamilton.

Well, if you sit around waiting for that kind of lightning to strike, you just may never write anything.

Others I know just have a hard time staring at a blank screen and getting those fingers to start clickity-clacking away.

Well, this one’s for you guys.  Why not write a show about a subject you know better than anyone? YOU!

And now some of you are saying, “But Ken, I don’t know how to do that!”  or “I wouldn’t know where to start.”

Well, that’s what this blog is about.  So read closely, because I’m going to give you a five step process that is guaranteed to give you a draft of a one-person show in 30 days.

You ready?

STEP 1:  Grab your phone.   Turn on the recording app, and tell a story from your life.  Anything.  From your childhood.  Your experiences with online dating.  How you once played golf on a 9 hole crappy public course in LA with Morgan Freeman, who golfs one-handed!  (That’s one from my personal archives.)  Just imagine you’re at a party and the conversation turns to you.  And remember, it can be about anything.   And don’t spend too much time deciding what the story is . . . just tell one.  This story should last no more than 2-3 minutes.  Go!

STEP 2:  Repeat step 1 every day for the next 30 days.  Do it at the exact same time every day.  Make it a part of your schedule.  When you get up.  Right before you go to sleep.  Like brushing your teeth.  This will take you only 2-3 minutes every day, so don’t tell me you are too busy for 2-3 minutes.  Get over yourself.  You can find 2-3 minutes every day over a month.

STEP 3:  At the end of the 30 days, hire someone to transcribe your audio files.  You can find someone on a site like Upwork (it’ll cost you less than $50).  If you want to use the guy that we use for all my podcast transcripts (who is terrific, accurate and fast), email me and we’ll give you his info.

STEP 4:  Take yourself out to dinner for all the writing you just did (without even having to type a word).

STEP 5:  When you get all those stories back, print them out on separate pieces of paper.  Set a stop watch for 15 minutes.  Arrange them in an order in those 15 minutes.  And now read it out loud.

And bam.  You’re done.  Believe it or not, you just wrote a one-person show.

Now of course it’s not done, and probably not even very good yet, but it’s a start.  You just put a giant lump of clay in the middle of your sculpting studio.  And that lump of clay already has a shape!  Now it’s up to you to dig in there, smooth out the rough edges, cut some chunks right off, add some more, and slowly make it into a finished product.

What I’ve learned from myself, and from working with my writer consulting and coaching clients, is that it’s much, much, MUCH easier to revise a script than it is to finish a first draft.

So this process helps you get to that first draft faster, using deadlines and schedules that too many writers don’t ever consider when sitting down to work on a project.

Will your one-person show play the Palace Theatre?  I don’t know.  But I do know that the best piece of advice I ever got was if I wanted to be a Producer then I had to produce something.  Anything.  Didn’t matter if that was a reading of Romeo & Juliet in my living room, but this mentor told me I had to get started, and it would no doubt lead to other things.

Writing a one-person show is 100% better than writing nothing.

Because I guarantee at the end of the 30 days, not only will you have a show to put on your shelf (that you could submit to the Fringe for next year), but you’ll also be a better writer.

And isn’t that what it’s all about?

Good luck!

(Want to do this and make sure you finish it?  Email a friend and tell them you’re accepting my One-Person Show in 30 Days Challenge. Tell them they’re responsible for checking in on you every week . . . and making sure you submit your files to that transcriber in 30 days!  And when you do, you’ll take them to dinner too.)


(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

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  • eve says:

    Finally! a solution to the dragging of feet on writing this one person show…
    Will commit to the challenge the moment I stop filming my next project (8/22), what a great way to climb out of the “end of filming” blues….By writing a show!

    Thank you for that, Ken.


  • Kristi Donovan says:

    Working on one now….thanks for the motivation to finish!!!

  • Georgie says:

    This is great advice but I need help!!
    I find my self over thinking what story to tell (I’m an over thinker) and probably pick something I think will be inter sting rather than something that isn’t but that makes it interested…. Do you have any advice?

    • Hannah Logan says:

      Hire a playwright or writing coach/ director/ actor with more than 25 years experience in theatre who has had her plays produced on both coasts and whose one-person show was compared to Anna Deveare Smith and Eliza Jane Schneider (“To her credit, Schneider refuses to judge her subjects. Also to her credit, like Anna Deavere Smith and Hannah Logan’s recent Work: in Progress at the Fringe Festival, she recreates her subjects with precision.” SD Reader, 2013 … with characters that are “hilarious and well-crafted” San Diego Union Tribune, 2013

      Someone with an objective eye and time in the theatre world who knows writing, directing and acting can help you discern when something has that POP that is worth investing your time and energy in and taking to the next level.

      Here is a review from a happy client whom I help transform her very expositional narrative story of her family’s escape from Iran to a riveting one-person show. Her was chosen to be presented at the San Diego Memoir Showcase in 2017.

  • oskar says:

    HI Ken,

    Thank you so much for this great idea! This idea came to me a few weeks ago but hearing it from some one outside my own head makes the idea better 🙂 I would love to get the name of the person you use at upwork! Thank you!!!! Oskar

  • Melvina says:

    This was such a FANTABULOUS motivation. I accept this challenge and i will have that lump of clay in 30 days. I can’t thank you enough because i have been wanting to write but just didn’t know how to start. I kept trying to thinking of topics i would want to talk about or who i would be talking to, and just kept going on around in a big circle only to keep coming up with nothing.
    This is a great way to at least start and know i will have something in 30 days to begin working with even if it ends up on the shelf because i decided to write about something else in the end.

  • Callmegrishga says:

    This was exactly what I needed. Started “writing” today and i cant wait to see what comes of this. This is such a good idea for writers in general, a project even my awful brain can stick with! Thank you so much.

  • Shawn says:

    This was very helpful. I would love to get the person you use at upwork Thanks

  • Please refer me to the person you used to transcribe your work.

  • Tashana Latrice says:

    This is just what the doctor ordered!!! Thank you for the motivation!! All inquiring minds want to know who this guy is at Upwork!! Love, Light, And Smiles
    Tashana Latrice

  • Monique Davis says:

    Best advice to date. I’m on it.

  • Jamey May says:

    Yooo! Wicked article. Please do send over matey’s details to transcribe my recordings! Danke!

  • Amy Drake says:

    Thanks Ken! This is exactly the information I was looking for in an easy-to-grasp format.

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