Well, here we are thirteen days into January. The festivities are all packed away again and although it seems almost too late to be wishing you all ‘Happy New Year’, as I’ve not managed to do so before, I do now. I hope this turns out to be a great twelve months for you all.
The days are getting longer. Yes, really. Maybe it’s only by a minute or two, but that’s enough to make a difference. The birds have started courting songs and displays here, and this morning the sun is even shining. You can tell from this that I’m definitely in ‘glass half full’ phase, can’t you?
Teaching has started. I feel as if I’m just coming out of hibernation, after my lazy Christmas. Funny, I looked forward to the break, and all the writing time it implied, but when I weigh it up honestly, I have to admit that I achieve more during teaching periods than in the spaces between them.
Alone, I’m prone to drifting from one project to another. The trouble with that is that instead of concentrating on finishing something, I add to the heap of ideas I’ve got ‘in progress’. And that’s already a precariously high pile of paper.
Or worse, because I put aside writing time for one chore, I find it easy to justify adding on another. ‘While I’m out of my office I’ll just…’ is how it starts. The next thing I know a week, or worse, a month has gone past.
It’s not just that when I’m contracted to work spare time is precious, and so I seem to spend it wisely, it’s that the process of interacting with other folks on the subject of creativity seems to get my synapses firing at full speed. When I take an idea to someone else they provide an alternative perspective. In a group, obviously, that’s multiplied. The discussion picks up other aspects of life, view or approach that help me to see things a-fresh.
Writing, we tend to assume is a solitary activity. Until the advent of reading groups, fiction too, was seen as a largely an act of isolation. Both of these statements can be true. They don’t have to be though.
Think TV, and the way a lot of the comedy and drama shows are created and what you often find, even when only one writer is credited, is an artistic collaboration. ‘From an idea by…’ the titles might say. More often, a group of writers are gathered together to workshop scenes, to push the possibilities of action and reaction. Ideas adapt, and develop.
Individually the writers might have interesting suggestions, and many of us prefer to work that way. But what if, at the inspiration stage, we could get together with some like-minded people and share our thoughts? Our imaginations may be potentially limitless, but sometimes another point of view can provide even more possible scenarios for what we are reading or writing.
Imagine a room full of excited writers working together to create a narrative, throwing suggestions into a pool, twisting and refining, polishing, to mix a metaphor or two. The events, the interactions, the sparky exchanges of dialogue, are talked through and work-shopped so that each incident is pushed and stretched and edited into its most advantageous shape.
I could be describing a team creating a script for a sit-com, a drama or your favourite soap. On the other hand, this might also be a writing or reading group in a room near you, tonight.
Happy New Creative Year.