In this session, we focused upon how to develop, build and sustain a career as a writer. The precariousness of the occupation was covered – participants spoke about how they had been present on a ‘Young Writers’ programme at a leading new writing theatre, and how the experience was more of being in a ‘machine’ than as part of an ongoing, nurturing mentoring relationship. We know that subsidised theatres' resources have huge demands made upon them, and this has resulted in an inability for them to provide feedback on submitted scripts (barring a few notable exceptions). It's difficult, then, to know how to develop unless one consults a professional script-reading service/producer etc.

We then considered how, in a sometimes-challenging London-centric industry, work can be staged in a meaningful way elsewhere. The core was: just keep going, and just don’t give up. Many of us have come close, and things can be up and down. But there are lots of opportunities out there, and motivating oneself to keep going is a success in itself. I, personally, came to a realisation as to why I do it. It’s not necessarily to get to the ‘big’ stages (although, let’s be honest, that would be great), it’s to experience, express and emerge with my own creative process. It’s to allow something that needs to be allowed out to be allowed out.

Naturally, that doesn’t answer the ‘career sustainability’ question. But it is the first step. Bottom line: would you do it anyway? The answer has to be yes. And it is, now.

Once the emotional transition away from neurotic need and into creative passion was covered, more practical steps arose. We spoke about organisations that support new writing: Arvon (who I’ve had fantastic personal experience with) and New Writing South (my closest regional body). They have workshops, schemes and opportunities to help one develop, to help one network and to help one with opportunities.

We also spoke about staging one’s own work – if opportunities seem elusive, make your own. If you’re really doing it for yourself, then a way will be found.

It’s always been hard. The ones that didn’t give up are the ones that broke through. I try to keep on keeping on.