ArtsLab Shopfront's artists in residence

Oops or: I should try to stop worrying and get on with it

I had planned on doing a new post every week…oops. So I’ll try and make this post especially interesting and insightful to try and make up for it.

How’s it all been going?

Not too badly but I am starting to feel like I’m stagnating due to a lack of progress. I think I’ve reached a point where I really need to commit to some bigger decisions about the plot and themes of my story. This can be hard to do, especially if you’re not entire sure what it is you’re even talking about. However, my process so far has been based on committing to ideas for the sake of getting words on paper and seeing what happens. I think it’s been a really useful way to explore ideas that I might have otherwise dismissed. It also adds a more natural quality to the story because I’m not following a set of rigid plans. Instead I find myself following an idea that gives way to new ideas I hadn’t expected. I’ve already learnt a lot of things about some of my characters by being open to these surprises and some of my plans about the plot and themes have changed as a result.

About this stagnation. At the moment I’m at a fork in the road. So far, I’ve understood the main beats of the section I’ve been working on. This has been great because it has provided a loose structure for me to explore through writing, as I mentioned above. Now that I’m near the end of that section, I really need to figure out where to next and, as I see it, I have two main options.

Option #1- This is probably the one I’m most excited about because it is probably the stranger and more challenging route. As a result, I think it is also the mostly risky because it will involve the story taking a slightly different and, maybe, unexpected turn which may take a lot more effort to get right. The payoff is that I think this direction will end up being a lot more fun for the audience and be an interesting way to follow the ideas I am setting up in section 1.
Option #2- This option  involves me allowing the tone and direction of the story to continue as it is in the first section, leaving the ideas themselves to develop and hopefully become richer. This could mean one of two things. I either let the current state of things dictate where it ought to go OR I expand the structure of section 1 so that it becomes the entire story. Both are possible. The payoff would be that it would allow the ideas to expand and be focused on in their own way and it might create a more challenging experience for the audience. The potential downside is that the story becomes a bit pretentious and loses enough charm that the audience may not be so interested in the ideas by the end.

It probably seems clear from my descriptions that I’m more interested  in option #1, which is true. It’s likely that part of what is causing my current stagnation (other than my incredibly important life outside of ArtsLab where my main function is to feed a cat and allow it to bite my hands) is that I’m resisting the very thing I mentioned at the start of this post: following the ideas by writing them. As I start to get more time conscious, I worry a lot about the prospect of following a dead end. But, in writing this post, I’ve realised that if I took the time I’m wasting worrying about the outcome of the things I write and invested it into writing and seeing what happens I could probably have written a first draft of both versions by now. I think this comes back to a mentality that I’m slowly moving away from with my writing. This is a mentality where, instead of viewing my writing as something I’m slowly figuring out and piecing together, I treat what I’m working on as though it is going to be the final, published version. I think that creates a lot of unnecessary stress around a process that I think could (and probably should) feel as exciting as when I used to jump on a trampoline as a child and pretend things were exploding everywhere. So, if you’ll excuse me, I have some exploding to do (Hello ASIO, don’t worry).

A Useful Exercise

As a small aside, my Mentor, Miles, gave me an exercise to do after I sent him what I’d been working on. I had been writing in 3rd person and he suggested I try rewriting it in 1st person to see what happens. This was partially for reasons specific to my project but I found it really awesome for reasons beyond that. I think I figured out a lot of things about the characters that will further enrich the story. So, if you’re someone who writes, I’d really recommend trying to rewrite things from different perspectives even if you don’t want to use that style in your final version. I’m sure there are equivalent ways to do this with different mediums as well.

Here’s another clip of prose being read. This time it’s chapter one of “Moby Dick” read by Tilda Swinton. Enjoy.

[soundcloud url=”″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

Comments are closed.