Learning, Shows, TV, Writing

Fingery-Pokery – The Artist’s Way

scan0056I heard about it.

I saw it in a friend’s vast personal library.

He said “Here, take it.”

It sat on my shelf for a year.

I started it.


I’m reading / doing / taking / following The Artist’s Way. It’s a course in a book. I’m fed up of feeling my work is stale, fed up of the negative pixies who get to party when I get  statistically likely “thanks, but not today” emails, and I’m fed up of the whispering mists of pessimism and poverty.  And that’s enough indulgence in evocative eurghhhiness.

Because this 12-week thing (I’m reaching the end of week 5) is great! Jolly! Freeing! Happy-making! OH, MY GOD. I’m the Me I that adult me thinks I was when I was 7! (Creating for creativity’s sake, full of curiosity, mischief, devil-may-care fingery-pokery).

Talking of “God”, it/s/he crops up a fair amount in this book, but don’t be put off. While author Julia Cameron has a strong faith, she encourages readers to think about their own “god” – whether that’s the “creative force”, a muse, or a deity.

So much good shit is going down – as they say here in the streets of Bath all the time – and it’s not all about improving The Writing at all. But WHAT a relief to….

  • LIKE my drafts the next day
  • not to be put off by a roughly sketched scene, but see its glimmer
  • have optimism and glee
  • feel not a twinge at others’ hard-won successes (yes, shameful – it was only ever tiny, but ouch, I wanted that Jellytot!)

It’s a bonkers example, but I applauded – actually clapped at – the telly at the end of this week’s Line of Duty. See what I mean? I’m so proud to be loosely in the same profession as Jed Mercurio, how could I not? Ditto the finale of Chris Chibnall’s Broadchurch. Hats off to them and the creative teams around them.

Anyway, I’m also …

  • taking action, instead of putting up with repeated promises that turn to bog-all
  • bolder with my dreams, such as going for “front of camera talent” instead of “director” as my role at Channel4’s Bristol PopUp last week (yep; I presented, and I loved it).

So – is this intriguing you? Be warned. There’s a crocodile. Week 4 is “reading deprivation” – no TV, films, books, papers, voice radio, mags, emails, social media…

It is hard.

It is great.

  • I went to bed when I was tired
  • My bum wasn’t glued to the sofa
  • I did some great piano playing
  • I did some brilliant (of course!)  writing.
  • And now, I carefully choose what to watch at night (1 hour; maximum 2 if it’s quality drama or comedy), like picking a quality chocolate or drink. I pay attention, rather than lever open my ears and eyes to have shit poured in.

Which is nice.




Say Who You Are

For all kinds of human reasons, I’ve been absent here. But I have been writing.

OK – pre-writing: in one of those “hold fire” poses, pen in hand, ink pot unscrewed.

And my brain will not be still.

There are the strands, the Big Things. There are characters, growing warts and bad habits by the day. There are interconnections, backward glances, opportunities, tunnels with light at the end – but is there a play?  Perhaps too often, I turn my friends green by describing this in biological terms – think sore tummies and you’re on your way.

It’s not “writers’ block” [it came out as ‘wriyrs clock’, so I can’t even spell it]. But no – I’m working on it regularly and hard; it’s my inner life, my other life. It’s just not ready to come out yet. And no, I’m not scared of it either – it just genuinely is not yet cooked.

This is a new thing for me. I used to dash ’em off carelessly in a matter of weeks. But they’re not plays I’d write now; I love them, they’re just past. It could have something to do with writing in a whole new way last year (my pilot TV script for C4Screenwriting & its rewrites) and the fact that I am now much more considerate of the piece before I start the script. It could be to do with a huge change in my home life, and so, a big shift to what I thought was my place in the world, and my future. Both, or neither.

kaufmanPerhaps what combines these two factors is this: I’m not writing to be popular, courted or to fit in. Needing approval has gone out the window (Oh, yes, I turned 40 in December – I really should respect myself as a grown-up).  I listened to and read screenwriting legend Charlie Kaufman’s BAFTA lecture a day or so ago. He moved me to share a couple of things on twitter and I’m going to leave them with you now:

From Harold Pinter:

A writer’s life is a highly vulnerable, almost naked activity. We don’t have to weep about that, the writer makes his choice and is stuck with it. But it is true to say that you are open to all the winds, some of them icy indeed. You are out on your own, out on a limb, you find no shelter, no protection, unless you lie. In which case, of course, you have constructed your own protection and, it could be argued, become a politician.’

And lastly, in his own words:

Say who you are, really say it in your life and in your work. Tell someone out there who is lost, someone not yet born, someone who won’t be born for 500 years. Your writing will be a record of your time. It can’t help but be that. But more importantly, if you’re honest about who you are, you’ll help that person be less lonely in their world because that person will recognise him or herself in you and that will give them hope. It’s done so for me and I have to keep rediscovering it. It has profound importance in my life. Give that to the world, rather than selling something to the world. Don’t allow yourself to be tricked into thinking that the way things are is the way the world must work and that in the end selling is what everyone must do. Try not to.”