On Writing: Putting Pen to Paper

Posted on April 29, 2014

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Regular readers of the blog may have noticed that it’s been a bit quiet around here of late. I’ve recently acquired a weekend job showing guests around the old Granada studios up on Quay Street as part of the new Coronation Street: The Tour. This is on top of my existing day job, and as such, I’ve had to take a slight back seat with regards to blogging.

The Tours have given me a highly exciting job that has actually pushed me to practice what many of the people I review do on a daily basis. Learning a script, practising vocal exercises and also having to act with a specific character have all been challenging, if fascinating exercises, to complete.

Part of me wanted to get this job, not only to fulfil an ambition to work behind the scenes in television, but also to deploy some skills that I often review in performers I’m watching. It’s somewhat putting my money where my mouth is. But I’m now finding myself totally surrounded by people in the creative industries it’s reignited a burning desire within me to write.

I’ve wanted to write for some years but I think I lack the discipline to start. My first masterpiece, an empire spanning epic, appeared in my high’s school’s newsletter at one point. I was 12. But I’ve stalled since then with one or two exceptions. And I think being creative boils down to two things: discipline and confidence.

To some extent, this blog has partly fulfilled the desire to write to an audience. But I’ve got so many ideas buzzing around my head ripe for development that are dying off thick and fast. Manchester is a creatively fertile place, you can try anything you want with the support of the community, and as many friends and colleagues have been sculpting novels, stage plays and scripts, I’m stuck on the starting blocks.

Of course this is not a competition, but I’m finding myself increasingly pushed and pulled in various directions personally and professionally and I think it is possibly time to take a step back and create something for myself before my time is up.

I finally got around to picking up a recent issue of Granta magazine with the Best of British Young Writers in a couple of weeks ago. Reading through the excerpts, or discarded drafts contained within, it quickly became apparent that it is alright to develop ideas that ultimately come to nothing.

This, I suppose, is my biggest stumbling block in wanting to write. I feel that ideas have to have fully gestated before leaping from my subconscious to the page. Often, opening a blank notebook or new document in Word is often a terrifying experience. The words might be ready to jump out, but for me, plotting and character creation has to be impeccable before putting pen to paper.

Some of you may know that I do have one play in development for production later this year. I’m trying to supplement this with other bits of writing to coax these ideas out of hibernation and develop them into something a little more fully featured.

One enemy of mine is time. I struggle to actually sit down and commit myself to writing for a set period. I know that many other writers force themselves to sit and write a set amount of words, or perhaps write between set timeframes. I find ideas pop into my head at any time and then grow. The average idea only stays in your head for minutes, if not seconds, so if something occurs to me out in the street it’s a scramble to get it down on paper before it’s gone.

This series of blog posts will chart this process and see what has helped, or perhaps hindered me. I’m going to try using a variety of techniques and software programs to see if there is an ideal writing pattern that encourages me to regularly write. For now though, it’s off to the notebook…

Photo by Jeffrey James Pacres / CC BY

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Posted in: Opinion