Friday, 5 July 2013

Making Your Wickdly Fertile Imagination Work

Definition of Bully: The Dingo
Blu bra - i.e. I fancy you
Tiger - tossing - i.e. his brother
Stars and atoms - make them listen
M - It wasn't your fault.

Every so often when I'm in the middle of a project - in this case a play - I find scraps of notes I've made for myself that make - or made - sense to me then but now, if I were to take each separately and without context, I could probably create a wholly new piece of work.

Possibly surreal, if you look at the list above.

But it makes me feel so fortunate that I am in a job that needs imagination, lateral thinking, a slight "madness of the heart and soul and tiptoe crazy on the moon" (to quote one of my characters, Eve from Salt on Our Skin).

Even so, making yourself do the work that will birth the characters, language, dialogue, visuals, relationships, stories can be hard, can be frustrating. Not least when you do get down to it and hate yourself for having wasted so much time to get there.

But is there such a thing as wasted time - are our brains ticking over, working it out, storing something magical there to reward us with? I hope so because sometimes I find myself circling the work like a nervous crow, picking it up, putting it down, doing anything else, faffing as if it were a new and lucrative art form...

Two bits of advice that have kept me sane:
1. Don't expect everything you write to be good. You have to get the abysmal stuff out of you too! If you expect to write something magnificent every time, fear will stop you from writing, allow you to procrastinate into a state of utter frustration and dislike, and the disappointment of the bad stuff you do write might discourage you from ever finishing a piece of work. Just get the words down - nobody else can.

2. Do up a schedule of small tasks, single steps that will allow you to do the writing work you want to do and keep to it (more or less) religiously, unless you get so into the writing that you get carried away, which is one of the most wonderful feelings in the world.

These tasks could be to brainstorm a character, a scene, an element of the narrative; to list out the chapters and see what happens in each; to pick up something that is bothering you about the project and see where it goes; to edit one chapter, one scene, the first ten minutes of a script - or the last; anything that allows you to build up the project and prevents you from being daunted by its sheer size...

They say you can only truly enjoy freedom when it's scheduled in - which seems bizarre but think of how good that walk/ chocolate/ next chapter of the book you're dying to read will feel if you've actually made some headway into your current writing project? How good you will feel about yourself.

In other words, reward your fertile imagination by giving it space in which to grow.

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