I was going to write another Road to Edinburgh blog for this week but I had quite the creative weekend and so I thought I would write about that instead.
Over the first lockdown (if you can cast your mind back that far, a difficult task I know), I decided that Wednesday would be my creative day. I was having real trouble defining my time. I felt – because I was home and no longer commuting and my muggle job was giving me fewer hours – I should be writing and acting and doing all the creative things all the time every day. I ended up feeling guilty every evening about the fact that I hadn’t done enough creative projects that day. I was putting so much pressure on myself that I ended up doing nothing. Thus, I decided to make Wednesday my writing day. I didn’t have to write any other day of the week (and I often didn’t) but on Wednesdays I was not allowed to schedule anything – no zoom calls, no work, no nothing. I was going to write. And write I did. It was only one day a week but you wouldn’t believe how productive I was able to be on that day. It also made me feel so good and freed up my brain for the rest of the week. By August or so I had completed the first draft of my new play.
I sent out this play to friends and my mum (who tbh is a great critic – she has given me some of my best ideas – thanks mom!). I got back loads of notes and kept going. I stuck to my Wednesday rule. Then I did a reading. More thoughts came, more notes came. Then January came. Yikes. I submitted the play to a few places and didn’t get in anywhere but got generally very nice and positive feedback. I thought the piece I had was good (which was a big step to think that out loud) but not yet great. And I really want it to be great.
A quick aside: I felt a lot of shame and awkwardness about typing that out. Maybe it felt arrogant? I’m not sure. But it was recently pointed out to me that if you aren’t writing with the goal of writing something great then why bother? I believe in this idea. And that’s an amazing feeling. Hence I type: I really want it to be great.
I have not worked on that play since January. I’ve talked to people about it. I’ve forgotten about it. I’ve tried to do some writing exercises around it. And nothing. No inspiration. Nothing. And it’s June now (which is crazy! I know). I was starting to hate this play I had written. It felt like a weight tied around my ankles. A reminder that I had written a piece that had promise but no follow through. I just didn’t know what to do with it. It was missing something. But I didn’t know what. And six months had not fixed it.
Cue my Sunday evening epiphany. I was talking about showreels with a friend and we decided to turn one of the scenes from my play into a showreel scene. I was reading through a few screenplays – I’ve never written a screenplay before – and was rewriting some of the scenes to send as options to a director and actor friend. I don’t know what it was. Maybe re-writing scenes for a different medium took the pressure off. To be honest, I was so frustrated with the play and myself that I had kind of put it aside as a lost cause and had begun researching for my next project. But something clicked. I had an idea. A new idea. And one that I think might really work. More importantly, I was excited again. I wanted to go in and add and write and edit. And I haven’t felt like that since Christmas.
So keep hope. If you find yourself in the same boat as me. Sometimes writing sucks. Put your projects away. Do something else. Have confidence that your creative brain is working away behind the scenes and one day, maybe, something might spark.