Smile Through It II: The Next Chapter

Chasing dreams, because I can

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Writing and watching

Posted by Oli on Wednesday 3rd January, 2007

It’s been a bit of a quiet, stay-at-home kind of day today, spent largely on the sofa chilling out.  I have, however, managed to do my first piece of real writing for ages and I’m really pleased with it.

It’s an odd thing, writing.  I love doing it and when I sit in front of a screen with a real purpose to my ideas, I seem to be able to rattle things off at speed.  The 6-page scene I wrote today, which is something that will hopefully be part of the Youth Theatre show in April, took me a little under an hour to write, although I must confess I wrote the verse part of it over the course of an hour waiting for K yesterday.

It seems that when I have a deadline to write to is when I do my best writing and when my mind focuses most clearly on what it’s trying to do and say.  If I’m just sitting there of my own volition, tapping away at the keys and seeing where I end up, it doesn’t come in the same way.

What this means, of course, is that once I start getting commissioned and paid for my work and I’m a top-flight, in-demand scriptwriter and playwright, I’ll be knocking out classics left, right and centre (OK, OK, but stay with me), whilst right now I need to find that spur to keep me going when I don’t have an identifiable goal to achieve in front of me.

People say the key to it is to make sure you write a little every day, no matter what it is.  Specifically, I’ve heard it said that you should set yourself a page or word target that you must hit no matter what.  The trouble with those plans is that I always just end up writing drivel to fill the quota and end up hating myself for being so uncreative and unimaginative.  And when you think you’ve lost it, your enthusiasm for the project drops off the face of the planet.

All of which does nothing really to solve my dilemma, but it’s nice to be writing again and reading my own words on a page.  There’s still something wonderful about reading back over scripts that have just emerged from your head through your fingers and ended up as a formatted file on a hard drive and ink-on-paper in front of you.

It never ceases to amaze me when I sit at a computer that in a matter of a few hours I can turn out something really quite readable to fill a blank page and possibly more.

My head tells me that I need to set myself some time aside everyday to try to achieve something in writing, even without self-imposed artificial quotas and the like, but at the same time I know that if I set myself a timetable and don’t stick to it or am too tired to achieve it, I’ll just get down about it.

But enough of that – it’s all a bit unnecessary.

Today I watched FIELD OF DREAMS with K on the sofa and absolutely loved it.  It was a Christmas gift from her because I had told her I’d not seen it and I’d heard lots of good things about it from lots of people, so I finally sat down to watch it today. 

It’s a lovely little film, filled with a beautiful kind of magic that you somehow just don’t question.  It’s one of those films with such wonderful heart that you forgive it it’s little foibles and unnecessaries and allow yourself to get swept up with the characters and their journey and the magic they’re experiencing.

And who knew Kevin Costner used to be so watchable?  And not in dodgy-accented, car-crash kind of terms?  I mean, he was almost like a real actor.  You’d have sworn he’d never do something as silly as make Waterworld.

I also wasted nearly an hour of my day on a programme about the Archers, which promised in it’s Sky+ blurb that it would follow the production team as they put together the show’s 15,000th episode – the kind of behind-the-scenes peek that I’ve always been addicted to.  But instead, it spent the vast majority of it’s time covering the whole of the back-story to this momentous episode. 

Which, when you’re covering a radio drama on TV, is somewhat dull.

Still, at least I watched that before I watched Field of Dreams, so I could have my memory of it wiped.

Also watched a great Mark Lawson interview with Armando Iannucci, one of the writer/producers behind things like The Day Today and Alan Partridge or, more recently, The Thick of It.  I love watching programmes about writers and programme makers and getting a glimpse into their various thought-processes and working practices.  It helps focus the mind onto things I want to do and ways in which I could drive myself forward.

Of course, we all know all I really need to drive myself forward is a deadline to write to.

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2 Responses to “Writing and watching”

  1. Frizzymum said

    Oli – can you email me when you get a chance? I don’t trust that I have the right email for you since the hassles last month. I have a germ of an idea that may be a possible co-writing project for us if you’re interested…. Xx

  2. Pauline said

    Hi Oli, Yes we in Luxembourg sat down to watch the Archers our bit of Olde England and were very dissapointed too.

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