Embarking on this course was with a couple of objectives in mind.
- To develop a creative practice where I am writing regularly, and collecting and reflecting upon ideas.
- Deadlines. I’m a classic procrastinator and without a deadline I will never finish anything.
- Praxis. Learn through doing: the best way to get better is to write more.
- To learn more about structure.
We’re only three weeks in and I feel like I am making great steps towards achieving these objectives.
I always thought of writing as the physical act of sitting in front of a screen (and found those ‘write every day’ mantras to be a little terrifying) but, with so much planning and detail to go through, I am finding that dog walks, meal times, train journeys are all providing time and space to think through the story I am telling. I always have a notebook or my phone with me to record ideas and developments. This arena for processing ideas has always been more fruitful for me than sitting at a desk (I think my brain operates differently int these moments), and having these pressures placed upon my time means these valuable moments are sometimes all I have to work on my current project. I have noticed, however, that this means when I do sit down to write I am prepared. I don’t sit down at the start of the task, I sit down with my fingers primed and ready to get everything down. The words ready to flow. This seems to be an efficient way for me to work and for me to manage my time and, upon reflection, it’s not that different to how I approach a design problem.
What I am learning on the MA is hugely valuable but the process of learning to be a focused writer is perhaps more so. There’s a reason I put creative practice at the top of my list of objectives: I know from my design career that being able to apply discipline to your practice is essential and being able to do it consistently is how you achieve things.
This week we’ve looked at generating ideas. We’re already a few steps down the line on coming up with ideas for a short film, with a wide variety of different stories being told. It’s always been interesting to find out where people’s ideas come from. I think we all follow similar processes of collecting ephemera, experiences, questions we want to answer, but we’re all walking different paths so everyone’s ideas are different, even if it’s just in subtle ways. Seeing Andrea Dubar’s plays recently has given me a really good perspective on the difference in experience and the lush variety that can bring to storytelling. I don’t think that stories have to come solely from a writer’s own life – you shouldn’t be limited to telling your own story over and over – but there’s something really valuable about having your own perspective, telling the story through the lens of your unique experience. That’s where fresh and surprising stories come from.