The 5 W’s

Just as journalists are taught to always ensure they lead with the 5 W’s, we must do the same for any desired project. If not, we’re doomed.

To review, the 5 W’s are: who, what, when, where and why. (There’s actually a 6th question, “how.” But I believe if you have a strong enough why, the how takes care of itself.)

I’ll use the example of producing a play for this post, but you can apply the advice to anything you’re trying to do. So here we go, the 5 W questions you need to answer for yourself before starting out…

WHO. Who are the artists you want to be involved with? Actors, directors, designers, stage crew, etc…And who is this play for? Who is the intended audience?

WHAT. What exactly is the play, the story? What’s it about? What’s it trying to say? What specifically about it appeals to you? So much so that you want to produce it? And if necessary, do you have the rights?

WHEN. When is opening night? Nothing’s real until you set a deadline. Prior to that, it’s all just an idea. And how can you possibly expect anyone to get excited, to commit to your idea, until you haven’t committed to it yourself? You do that by setting a date.

WHERE. What venue? Is it the right venue for the play and intended audience? Are your designers and artists excited about the venue? Just like in real estate, it’s location, location, location.

WHY. The most important question. Why do you want to do this? Why now? Why should people follow your passion? Why should the audience show up? When you’re slogging through the tough times and feel like quitting, going back to your “why” helps get you through.

And if you really feel you need to answer the HOW right now, start with creating a work plan.

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