What Next? 7 Tips to find what you should do next?

Finished!

Well I thought I had finally ended my academic life as a student when I recently submitted my Major Project for my Ma in Writing for Script and Screen. The next week I returned to teaching feeling accomplished.
Not only had I, as in me, completed a Masters but I had written a feature length film on one of my literary idols Mary Davys, based on a collaboration of her plays, novel and biography.
Part of my project was to add a critical essay which led me in a new direction of Adaptation Theory.
For me it looks like I’m heading straight back to uni, a PhD in the cards, as long as I can continue to teach creative writing.

But for others the decisions are not so easy to make or clear.

Here are my tips to discovering what you want to do next.

  1. Spend time on your OWN.

As a mum of four, I know how difficult and yet important this can be.  You NEED, yes need, to be able to hear your own thoughts. How else can you work out what exactly you want to do, if you don’t? Go for a walk, my go-to is a beach walk.  Do it as aften as you can.

     2. Recall when you were last happy.

This doesn’t mean to say you are miserable and unhappy now, but think back to the happiest days. What were you doing and who with? The who is just as important as the what. Let your past help solve your future.

   3. Write down your dreams you remember.

This is when your brain is sorting out those quirks and issues you have had when awake and been unable to solve.  Reflect on what you see, symbols, people, places or situations.

    4. Keep a journal.

This does not have to be daily, so don’t feel guilty of you forget.  Write how you are feeling, if you feel unmotivated at work, put that, and if you can why.  If you find yourself randomly doing something else, or googling new jobs, hobbies , ask yourself if you could change one thing now what would it be and why?

Write about what your love about yourself, be honest, no-one is going to see this, its not bragging, OWN IT. Ask friends and  family what they see as you talents?

    5. Spend time with inspirational people.

Who in your circle of friends and family that inspires you? What have they got or done differently to you? Don’t be afraid to ask them, chances are they have been where you are now.  Instead of asking for advice, ask how they would do something.

   6. Explore your passions!

Take a beginners class or the next level. What really brings a smile to your face. Meet like-minded people and widen your circle, if this is where you want to be, then these are the people who will be able to help.  Does your passion offer you the potential  for happieness now and growth tomorrow?

    7. Keep your mental and physical health in check.

No matter what you decide to do, your well-being is important!  Get that check-up, take that walk, talk about how you are feeling. There is no point in doing anything that sucks the life and soul from you!  I can whole-heartedly promise you that.  Yes, we all need to work and pay the bills, but check what you are spedning you money on now to make life bearable. if you did something else, would your downtime be the same?

Remember: Focus on the best case, plan for the worst. That way when things work out, you will have it covered!

 

Good Luck.

M.x

 

 

 

 

 

 

Motivating new writers.

Excuses range from their reading is not good enough, or they didn’t do well at school. Some believe that no-one would want to read their story but most lack the confidence to show their work to others, even loved ones.

 




Helping Each Other.

This week is the last of the latest set of ten writing lessons in the beginner’s course I run. I deliberately have no more than six on each course. It’s enough to be intimate and works well when writers share their work with each other.

As a writer, I love hearing everyone idea’s on what they would do if they could write. When I ask why they don’t write themselves, they have a barrage of excuses. Intrigued I often push further asking if they have ever given writing a go. Most say no.

Excuses range from their reading is not good enough, or they didn’t do well at school. Some believe that no-one would want to read their story but most lack the confidence to show their work to others, even loved ones.

I started writing as a child, and apart from my high school English teacher, keeping it pretty much a secret until three years ago. I have not included the work I did as a copywriter or the odd articles I wrote, to me that was ‘professional writing’ I had a topic, I had a deadline, a word count and audience etc all chosen for me. All I had to do was string a few words together.

I taught in high schools yet I wanted to know the difference from writing academically to writing fiction.  So I joined a community writing class.

At first, the idea of reading my fiction aloud in a room of strangers was terrifying. This was personal, so far removed from my previous writing, that it never existed. This was me laying bare not only myself but my ideas, my private thoughts and processes. It was hard.

We started the with snippets and the odd sentence here and there before we finally built up to full short stories. Pages of my words being shared and reviews by others.

My confidence soon soared.  I wrote a novel and a collection of short stories, enough to enrol on a Masters program in writing for tv and film!

I’ve nearly finished but over the time I have written a feature film that has gained production interest. My short film is currently in production and I had a short play out.

I am currently working on my dissertation, a biopic about an inspiring woman, who believed a writing career was possible despite at of life’s struggles.

So what do I take from this, what do I give my students?  The inspiration that anything is possible if you work hard enough. Hope, that they will be a writer.  If I can then it’s never too late for anyone, and finally motivation. For when those days that hit that you want to give up, that you feel it isn’t going right or you just can’t seem to find the words. Carry on it will come eventually.  Have Faith in Yourself.

M x

 

”We need to talk…”

As a writer, I create characters every day.

I think in glorious technicolour and now 4K how they would look and behave. I think in a volume of how they would sound through a beautiful Bose system, while as a creative writing teacher, I give examples of how to bring them to live. I use questionnaires to build a profile, teaching how to ask them awkward and embarrassing stuff, getting them to reveal who they are as if in some confessional. Their innermost secrets spilling for the writing student. 

I get the students to care deeply about each character becoming obsessive about the slightest detail and then we start to ask them why. We become shrinks. Psychologically assessing them, turning them over like the next page wanting, no need to know more. I ask them to listen, not to just what their characters will say but how they say it, the tone and timbre of their voice. Is there an intended inflection? A hint of sarcasm?

I explain how eventually they won’t be able to sleep as their characters interrupt their sleeping thoughts as well as their waking thoughts. How they will start to question their own sanity as small voices whisper in their ears.

I know and understand all this yet still I write on autopilot then I stop. Silenced.  No words.  

Because I have forgotten to talk to my own character. I’ve distanced myself unknowingly.

I assumed that they were still with me and naturally as I already knew all this wonderful stuff and had a conscious comprehension into the deeper workings of characterisation, that is would automatically filter through into my writing without effort! 

I had ignored them. As in all relationships, it takes work. Firstly, you need to be aware of the other person existence.  My character had become secondary. I was busy writing other projects, teaching, running after the kids, and as any spouse or friend would be, they had started to get on with their own life and I wasn’t included. They were waiting for me to make the first move after months of pushing them away. 

So I have had to bring in ‘date night’.

A time I set aside to get to know them again. The vast expanse is going to be a long ride before we are back on track, but now I realise it was me that walked away, I can walk back. 

We talk about everyday stuff, the usual awkward stilted responses of how’s your day? What have you been up to in the last six months? or present. I even apologise.  Promising to work harder on our relationship. I check in throughout each day, with a quick question ”What did you have for lunch? Did you have cake? How’s the new boyfriend?”

Improvements are slow but we are getting back on track.  We will survive this having been friends, good friends even, for some years now. 

I know one day she will go, maybe around book three, when I have finished telling their story. But until then I will question and listen to every word they have to say. 

Who? What? Why? When?

Active Questions-  Creswick (2016) Director and Writer Natalie Erika James; Writer – Christian White – Available online at <https://vimeo.com/157958148> Accessed on 1 st May 2018

Creswick is the story of a young woman helping pack up her father’s home, while both have the strange feeling they are not alone. The active questions come soon;

Whose was the art book? Possibly her dad’s

Why is the woman so jumpy? Something has happened/is happening that is making her anxious -moving of items, etc

Who do they think is living in their house? They don’t know.

What happened in the woods? Again, we don’t know.

What will she discover? This questions possibly ties in with the last one.

And finally, what is the black body over her dad’s shoulder? Is this something only she can see, her father certainly can’t ‘feel’ its weight. The body looks charcoaled.  Is it representing something in either of their past or the weight of dementia, or is it plain and simply an unknown being. Lots of questions left unanswered which make for great conversations.

Sneaky Speak.

Sneaky Pete (2015) Directed Seth Gordon; Written by David Shore and Brian Cranston.

This is crime drama that Amazon keeps adding to my time line, so I thought would give in to peer pressure and watch it.

Pete and Marius are in prison, Marius a ‘confidence’ man is getting parole, while Pete won’t be sleeping in his own bed for some-time, the consequences of holding up a gun range.  From the opening voice over, we immediately know who the ‘real Pete’ is. He is sentimental for outdoors of his youth, loves his family and knew where he belonged. Marius’s tone and his request to Pete to shut up, that his was probably the polar opposite. By the time he is leaving Marius is ready to switch persona, to Pete.

The dialogue throughout this pilot episode is fast paced, yet wordy, it depicts cultural characteristic’s, in concise punchy lines.  But it’s the ease of the switch, the ability to summarise his potential ‘con’ where Pete I at his strongest. Pretending to be Pete, engaging with his long-lost family, Marius uses careful pauses and listening to understand where a conversation is going and how to respond.  The responses ‘Pete’ receives prove he is believed. His con is working.

 

Words can Kill – The use of Dialogue

For this review, time was of an essence, so I watched a short ( and for those who are not aware sign up to http://www.shortoftheweek.com for some amazing short films.

https://www.shortoftheweek.com/2018/04/18/writers-workshop/

Writer’s Workshop (2018) is an 11 minute dark comedy written and directed by Ryan Frances Johnson about Jeremy an aspiring writer attending a writers class.  Having attending many of these, I can relate. Though I have been writing into the decades now, it was only recently at a writer’s workshop was my first piece made ‘public’. Awaiting the response is nail biting it’s your baby, a part of you, that you are putting put there. And it doesn’t matter who comments if they are negative it hurts, and yes despite all the advice you will take it personally and believe you have failed at life! Fact!

At the end of the day write how you want to if it’s for your benefit, writing can be therapeutic, and if you are aiming for loft ‘Rowling’ heights, be aware of what you are writing, take a class of two learn structure, character development, story arc, etc learn to give and take criticism.

FAIL. FAIL AGAIN. FAIL MORE.

Don’t get comfy be knocked back, but use it to learn from and develop, re-read your work whether it’s an aspiring novel or script and ask if the feedback was deserved.

Be critical of your own work,  make a template tick box for what your writing project should contain and tick it off when each part has been achieved.

The best advice given to me, was read it aloud, just to yourself, and if you can record it. Listen. Does it flow?

Have faith, you will get there.

So getting on to my 200 word max review of dialogue (the morning coffee has kicked in); * Spoiler Alert*

Writer’s workshop (2018) is heavily dialogued. Jeremy himself doesn’t have too much to say after reading his words, but just to sit back, grin and bear it.

The realism throughout the dialogue is obviously helped with the actor’s playing it straight.   The opening after Jeremy’s reading is an actual question that will need actual responses from, that are more than one liners. The extended dialogue has been set up with this.

Add drama and dark humour with in each line, and the characters personality is already being developed, Although we get told not to repeat information, it is repeated here and often. It builds a dramatic momentum until Clark is smothered at his own request.

Clarity and context is evident, we know that each critic means it metaphorically (or do they?), and as writer’s we relate, each character has expressed, as requested their viewpoint, the initial question has been answered.

Jeremey nodding and smiling understands when they welcome Clark and his poetry, that it wasn’t personal and that they will all repeat their constructive criticism again.

Sometimes dialogue is just that words, but here they have been used perfectly in keeping with what I remember from writer’s workshops.

 

 

Keep writing! M.