Arts Council England Free Reads

Image of woman, fist in the air
🕒 4 minutes read

Free Reads Announcement

I am finally able to announce that I am one of the winners of the 2018-19 TLC Free Reads. It’s a scheme run by Arts Council England for talented writers on low incomes.

It gave me the opportunity to have my writing professionally assessed by The Literary Consultancy (TLC). I’ve had to keep it under my hat for almost half a year. I was almost ready to pop.

Even being initially chosen and having my writing recognised as high enough quality is a game changer for me. I know I should not need anyone else’s approval for what I create, but I was over-the-moon, and bouncing off stars when I found out, and I haven’t really come down since. ..

I’m an Actor, not a Writer

This time last year I was rebelling against even the idea of writing my own work. I was worried that writing would interfere with, or take place of, my acting.

I frequently grumbled that I was an actor, not a writer. I didn’t have the time to sit around writing. There were lines to learn, rehearsals to attend, acting to do. There was is no way that I would be good enough any way.

But, studying for my master’s degree gave me more creative space than I expected, to breathe and to think, to indulge my curiosity and my creativity and re-imagine what was possible

I had time to listen to playwrights and writers. Space to expand my knowledge. Time to read, research and learn. It gave me time to play. To reach out in new directions and pull those new pieces together.

I dipped my toe in and went along to the free workshops with the Jenny Lind Arts Project and Script East, just to give it a go and see what happened.

It turns out, that given the room to be myself, the writer I left behind in my teens, has been hiding in there all along. Rebelling against the banality of spreadsheets and being the antagonist of archaic administration. Waiting for the time that I could find my way back to being my creative, adventurous, curious self.

It’s been a struggle of a journey, but it was worth every step. Well, except for those months I was all but living on vegetable stew. I don’t miss that bit much.

National Centre for Writing Free Reads

In November 2018 I submitted part of my play to the National Centre for Writing for the Free Reads scheme.

The Arts Council England funded scheme is an amazing opportunity for talented writers, who are disadvantaged by low income and are being held back by those financial barriers. It provides a bursary for the writer to have their work professionally assessed by The Literary Consultancy.

In December I found that my play had been selected. Just being chosen was incredibly uplifting. To have someone look over my work, read it, and consider it to be of a high enough standard to be submitted for a professional review was incredible.

I could not believe it. I still can’t believe it. Everyone is henceforth banned from pinching me, just in case it wakes me up.

There was a period of several months, during which I had to wait until I could tell anyone. A little voice of doubt in the back of my head kept creeping in and saying to me… There must have been a mistake. You couldn’t have been chosen. They must have sent the congratulations to the wrong email and they are taking a while to respond because they are trying to figure out how to let you down gently.

But then I got my review back from the Literary Consultancy. Eight, brilliant pages of feedback from a “real” published playwright that is going to be invaluable in my finishing my play and getting it up on stage.

Then today, finally, up it pops in my email. The go-ahead from the National Centre of Writing that I can officially announce it. It’s officially official. I am feeling, ‘bouncing-off-the-stars’, excited again.

I am not sure I feel as if I can put Impostor Syndrome to bed quite yet, but I am sending it to it’s room without any dinner.

2018 – Creative Journey from Actor to Actor and Writer

2018 was a tough year for me.  I didn’t have enough money to do my Master’s degree. But the opportunity was there, so I grabbed on to it and I refused to let go. Even though I had a far from comfortable time in financial terms and will be suffering the fallout for some time,  I had the most incredible year.

I am so very grateful for all of the experiences that I have had, the people I met and worked with and all that I’ve learnt.  I mentioned serendipity many times over the course of 2018. I’ve been incredibly fortunate.

In fact, the more that life has tried to put obstacles on my path, the more serendipitous and fulfilling life has become and more of what I actually desire appears to have flowed towards me.

2018 was a massively successful year academically, creatively, in terms of recognition, confidence, and achievement. On stage and film,  I’ve had the opportunity to play more challenging and rewarding roles and received wonderful feedback from the people I’ve worked with.

And in a literary sense, in the acceptance and feedback on my writing . It’s given me the confidence to believe in myself and my own creativity.

Who would have thought that a year later, here I am, having just started writing a second stage play.  Instead of claiming that “I am an actor, not a writer”, now I can proudly and confidently say that I am an actor and a writer.

Planning a 30 Day Script Writing Schedule

Image of woman writing
🕒 3 minutes read

I decided to put together a 30 day script writing schedule for Play 2. And so it begins…. Well, next week it will. I recognised that I was allowing myself to get sucked into a procrastination trap. All the goals and challenges facing me at the moment, in acting, writing and creating the business, were seeming overwhelming.

Start Writing now. No more Excuses

So, I will wait until I catch up with that online workshop, until the housework is finished, until I find more time, for the neighbours to stop being so damned noisy, as well as the wind and that bird that sounds like a squeaky wheel, until I have enough money to afford to grab a drink, so I can write in the coffee shop, when I have worked a bit more on the characters, have more detail of the plot, when I can wake up early like real writers do (that is never going to happen, it’s 3 am as I write this), when inspiration comes, when I am in the right mood, when the sun rises in the West and sets in the East.

Little ballerina girls becoming a writer meme
https://writerblueprint.com/writing-memes/

No more allowing fear to get in the way. I’ve set a date for a definite start and end date (from 31st of March to the 30th of April) and how many words to write per day. Words I am going to write no matter what.

Even if I have to free-write until I get the words down or my hands curls up like a dead spider, whichever comes first. I may become a little frazzled over the coming month.

What’s the 30 Day Script Writing Plan

I just planned a writing schedule for the first, rough, ‘don’t-you-dare-edit-as-you-go’ draft. I have an idea for the play, a handful of characters that I’ve been working on (although they have no names as yet, known informally as A, B, C, D and E ), a rough plot (very rough) and now… a plan. 

With just 667 words a day needed to meet my 20,000 words, rough draft target, by the end of April, it’s now feeling achievable. The deadline I’m actually aiming for is June, so I will still have the whole of May to work on editing, tidying up and making it all make sense. I’m (imaginatively) calling this work ‘Play 2’ for the moment.  It’s the second full length play I’ve started and I don’t want thinking of a title to be another excuse reason to delay my making a start.

I’m using Pacemaker to put my Schedule together. Mostly because it’s free. Otherwise cost would have been another obstacle in the way. I’ve not used it before, I read about it on Medium, but I’m assuming the graph will automatically update itself as I enter my progress.

 

 

I’m going to get my work area ‘just so’ over the next few days, remove distractions, make sure I have everything I need (that the coffee supply is in abundance), create my title page, ‘Play 2’ to fool my brain into thinking I have already started and make a public declaration of my imminent productivity. 

I’m also going to get a copy of KM Weiland’s Writing Manifesto below and pop it on my noticeboard above my desk. I was going to write my own personal writing manifesto…. but that would be just another distraction.

Writer’s Manifesto

KM Weiland's Writing Manifesto
KM Weiland’s Writing Manifesto

Incomplete Script For my Eyes Only

fragmented incomplete script
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About to send out my very petite and imperfectly formed, incomplete script. So far it has been for my eyes only and for good reason. It is exceedingly rough, fragmented, and far from close to being finished. So much so, that I felt the need to go through it and liberally prop it up with additional text, explaining the bits that are missing (some of which are still in my head…and some that aren’t….yet).

I attempted to clarify some of the glaringly obvious plot holes and timeline discrepancies and bits that I am not quite sure how they will work on a stage as yet. Whilst also, quite deftly I think, avoiding mentioning that the major plot hasn’t even really been explained in what I have written so far. Although I really hope I have hinted at it a little, or my first draft is going to be even more rubbish than I am expecting it to be.  

I was asked if I was ready to perform any of my script at a Scratch night yet and hoping that the answer to that, is unlike my script, glaringly obvious 😂 

Read, Write, Chat Meetup – 13th July 2018

Writing with roses on a notepad
🕒 1 minute read

Writing at the last minute

I am not sure which planets happened to be in alignment yesterday, but Friday the 13th definitely wasn’t unlucky for me, as for once, my writing actually flowed. I had foolishly left my ‘Read, Write, Chat’ homework until the very last minute, but I knew I would have, at least, an hour or two between meeting my ScriptEast group in the morning, to the café meetup group in the afternoon.

Prose to Dialogue

So I sat in the coffee-shop, set a timer for ten minutes and free-wrote a piece of prose based on the prompt I had been given. Instead of a random piece, I merged the prompt with another idea I had floating around in my head and it ended up becoming a prose version of a scene from my play. I then got so engrossed in changing the prose into dialogue that I totally lost track of the time and was almost late for the meetup.

Write it and it will come

I was in such an elated mood from that point onward. I don’t know whether it was excitement at getting a really touching scene for the play initiated, having already met #My500Words challenge, getting too little sleep the evening before, having not eaten properly since breakfast , too much coffee, finding someone to play Talisman with, the most excellent choice of writing exercises, spending time with great company with open hearts and minds or all of the above but I didn’t get writer’s block at all yesterday. Progress! If you get Writer’s Block, I can’t recommend joining a writing group enough. It can be so beneficial. It both frees and focuses the mind.

 

A Break from Writing and a Change of View

500 Words Writing Challenge pen and paper
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A Room with a View

Squeeeeee! What a difference a day, a break to the cinema and a change of location makes to my writing. I am now working with the view of my garden, with fresh air coming through the window and my aloe vera plant peeping over the top of my keyboard, rather than plonked in the middle of the dining room, staring at a blank screen and wall.

It has made a whole world of difference. I now have a 525 word synopsis of my story and a two sentence premise written down – more to help me gather my thoughts than anything else – which it really has. I can see much more clearly now how the story and scenes are going to flow *happies*

500 Words Writing Challenge

I also signed up to Jeff Goin’s My 500 Words​ challenge last night on Facebook, in an attempt to become more disciplined with writing. The challenge is to write at least 500 words per day. Like I said previously, I am an actor, not a writer and being disciplined in learning lines and finding a character comes much more naturally to me. I just do it. I fill up as much of my time as it takes to much sure that the work gets done.

I’ve kept the writer in me locked up for so many years it feels a bit weird letting her out again. But it is getting easier and my confidence is growing, every time I see words that I have written performed on stage and the positive reactions.

I’ve smashed the challenge for day one. I hope I can keep the word count up when it comes to writing all of the dialogue. If I can, then getting this project complete by the deadline will not be looking like such an uphill struggle after all.