The Sticky Notes Project

The Sticky Notes Project

Or the affinity map of my conscious mind, as I called it at some point.

Overwhelmed and stressed, I knew I wanted to tell this story, Why We Can't Just Put the Lights Up. I had a thousand and one pieces to go off of, brilliant ideas. But no clear strategy for getting them out and putting them together. Then I had the idea of writing all my thoughts on sticky notes. Like Dumbledore, one wizard cannot hold all their thoughts. So to CVS I went. With sticky notes and inspiration leaping out of my brain, I worked, covering the walls with all the thoughts I could. Called it the Sticky Note Project at the time but soon learned it's an Affinity Map.

The green, blue and larger pink notes serve as overarching pillars of the story. Green for guides. The mantras, pillars, and truths I hold dear. In some ways, they are the constant reminders as to why I started writing this piece. They say, "What happens to a dream deferred?" or "Compromise?! FOR WHAT???" and so much more.

Blue notes I called How we are getting there, notes. They list experiences that have influenced We Can't Just Put the Lights Up. They are performances, people, and places that have left an unforgettable mark on me. A performance like Takademe by Robert Battle or a musical like The Colored Museum by George C. Wolfe.

Not exactly sure what Facebook video I'm talking about here; I'm sure it was spicy though 🔥 (04/03/23 edit: Found the video, I had it saved the entire time 🙌🏾)

The larger pink notes list specific moments the characters, Chocolate, and Peanut Butter will go through, including the dances to the music of Moses Sumney.

As a dancer, I learn best on my feet, and affinity mapping like this certainly lends itself to that. Keeping a writing utensil and the notes right under the coffee table made it easy for me to jot down ideas vividly being acted out in the living room. Because the show is not as linear it's a dramatized peek into a shameful condition; reflecting on ideas I had from weeks ago helped maintain some sort of order through the chaos.

Top-right: It's strange when you find yourself as one of those fucked up at-the-beginning scary movie scenarios 

In the beginning, I didn't think too much about the orientation of the smaller sticky notes. Once a decent chunk of the wall was covered, I began to sort the notes under moments. This is when the show truly started to form before me. I could see how scenes would transition from dance to song. Or how monologues flowed from one character to another or from Chocolate to his thoughts. Most importantly, I began to see a map of my past and how my experiences--with some patience and some order to the chaos--shaped the man I was becoming.