A work-mate’s post on her writing routine encouraged me to remember that there are techniques to the relaxation, brain engagement and atmosphere elements to writing; ways to coax out the best of your imagination and finesse by making it feel special. So, here is a little dedication to my own red carpet treatment…
During the past year or so, until life got so full, I had been taking one whole day a week off with a friend for a tea-fuelled (milk, no sugar, brewed for two minutes only) brainstorming and writing session, a bit Pythonesque.
Here we talked about sleep paralysis, about fairy tales, about maidens sealed in glass coffins where they would sleep and be observed for eternity, about demons and incubi, about the people who wait for others that they are bound to. It was here that we came up with the premises for both of the full length plays we have written together, Wait and Close.
Wait turned into a Victorian gothic thriller focussing around a young trainee doctor who takes on the role of guardian at a wealthy household, to watch a young woman, the only child. Locked in her bedroom with her day after day until he can no longer relate to his previous concept of time, the doctor sifts through evidence of a life before her constant, unshakeable sleep, gradually piecing together his own perspective of her being, her habits and story. The room is plagued with incubi, haunting her body and taunting his mind, controlling everything. The doctor begins to lose his grip, while yet forming an inseparable bond to his situation.
Close , initially my friend’s brainchild, became an unexpected free joy to work on; having never taken on someone else’s original idea and developed it with them before, I found it an incredible experience, at times of course unsteady, but with reassurance and a lot of faith on her part, it really blossomed. At every stage – the director’s vision in proposal, the first set design chats, the actors coming in – the script grew, changing and settling at once, and the result was something very satisfying, something we will return to again and again.
Anyway, I digress (a large part of my routine). Before a few years ago, I had never understood the concept of writing with someone else, or even writing in company. Then I had a housemate called Anna, who was rather dependent on company, and used to come in and just sit next to me to read in our snug. This was something I had never done before – we would sit quietly, getting on with our own thing, but we were with each other. I grew to find it a real comfort.
Now, I find it difficult to get on with writing or other work without someone here – granted, this is usually a gaming or sleeping boyfriend; perhaps I need someone to ignore, but I am fond of the company nonetheless. I am dependent on having a dependent in the room. A distraction to overcome, a ‘hello’ and a cuddle to work towards.
Other ‘techniques’ I utilise tend to be being known as a writer, and consequently receiving plenty of beautiful notebooks as presents, and getting excited about moving through each one to the next. The cat also helps, of course, by sticking her arse in my face every now and then.
That pretty much sums it up for me really. Despite my OCD in other areas of life, I am surprisingly messy when it comes to writing. I wait for latent inspiration and then just run with it in the moments I feel energised by an idea. I wouldn’t preach my approach, but I am grateful for because it serves me well enough and I produce material that I am proud of.
As far as stimulus goes, I am freshly obsessed with Freshly Pressed, and I do like to whack on a ‘bangin toon’ like this to keep me going sometimes…
- The Symptoms, Causes and Cures of Sleep Paralysis (sleepoptionsmattress.wordpress.com)
- Routine writing tips [Tim Villard] (ecademy.com)