What do you do when you find an “idea” you’ve been working on is already out there? …OR…Why do I take so long to do something?

Convener(s): Gerard Bell 

Participants: Chris Hallam, Cindy Oswin, Dan Copeland, Nicholas McInerny and others


Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

This came out of the experience of having two things that I have been thinking of, or done but left for a long while, seemingly being done by someone else. This within the last two weeks. One today was Li”s announcement that she was producing a book on …”nothing” ( I had made a piece in 2007 : “….nothing now…”.

So I refer you to Li’s session and also to session 94, on procrastination.

Below are some of the questions that came up in the manner they came up. No answer really, but some suggestions and many questions.


(This will be a scattered summary)

(Think that ) the first question is an “unlucky coincidence”. 

The thought process – “I will do that some day…”

We kept coming back to the word “structure”. How a structure around it helps or is necessary. Cf all the distractions of home (up to time with partner and feeding the cat)


My inertia? Where does it come from?

What motivates you to get started? What is it that stops or postpones?

Frequently a absence of, or need for, support: practical emotional.

Is this from ourselves or outside?


We have an idea, we go home do some stuff, have a rest, watch too much crap tv ( and look back on the time mis-spent.)


Once embarked the deadline  is helpful.

Most of the work is finished in the run up to the deadline.


“I can’t write. I can’t write.”

Procrastination was mentioned. “I have it to a fine art”

I was asked do I question what to do; think it through to the point where it fails. I said, interestingly, that I do it in life quite a bit; but not in work.


There is all the other  work you have to do as a solo artist ( if you are doing youir own work). Feel you need support for that. And what about the emotional support; the endorsement. 

There is (as an actor) the waiting to be engaged. That is an endorsement. Otherwise you have to give it to yourself.


Is the hesitation from….”putting yourself on the line”.

Some people have enormous chutzpah and ride through this.


Another question can up. How does Ann Widdecombe (curiously) do it? Work as an MP + all the other stuff including writing?

Artists like Matisse, Picasso (Ann will be pleased) were mentioned – the enormopus amount of work they produce.

Is iit sheer psychic energy? Do these makers have un unstoppable energy, like a fountain? Do I bubble occasionally, and that is okay, or am I in some way blocked? Blocking a flow?


It was asked what are the ersonal traits that get in the way of what you want to do?

Or is the taking of time  a hindrance or advantageous.


One of us felt he had a past littered with good ideas. Having one in 3 or 4 days someone else would have started, done. Time passes; it is not done; it is not worth doing.


We talked of the differences between age and youth, of energy, confidence, awareness.

We came back to the synchronicity or pre-empting. Can you have two shows about the Voyager Spacecraft? 

It is in the “zeitgeist” . It is  “timely”.

ASnd “isn’t it great?”

The difference in the world of science where patents are chased to preserve property is “commerce” not creativity.


The interest and virtue of seeing presenting different takes on the same (ostensible) subject. Wuthering Heights, Don Q, nothing.


All humans procrastinate: we just don’t talk about it.

But what do you do if you don’t have a deadline? 

Advice: Tell someone you are doing it – official or friend – then next time you see them you will feel you should have done something)

              Put ideas on a postcard,. Send it to someone. They call you back to ask.


What holds us back …is it the fear of death? Once you come to a conclusion you are a step nearer.


There is a value too things taking a long time. ( Though not if the idea drops away). And leaving things forr a long time can’t be applied to hovering. Or…can it?

Does everything have to be tidy before you can start? (Is this prevarication?)


The time  taken can be valuable. Stuff feeds in.


“When I have a really cracking idea, the thing I do is “nothing”.” If it is still there six months later it might have to be done. You have to be obsessed, or stuck with it. It takes a long time reducing till you have the juices left: this is the kick start. This is how the time is used. (or is it?)

Also do not be distracted by the thought something has to be difficult.

Are there different creative personalities who simply discipline themselves to work alone? …. Yes, it is a temperamental issue of character.

Putting your self against other people’s process might be useful; give you other routes.

Set yourself rules!! (eg the next scene must have more characters; I mustt do this then; discipline rules). Riules and limitations are realloy important. Then it is noott about you

We discussed the temperament of being an actor, and that something has to shifty from that. As an actor you wait for work, (even to be given permission (to exist; waiting for someone to confer a start.) It is of course a valuable part of the actor’s personality.

But how much do we value our legitimacy as an actor (to make).


It was asked if the speed the industry moves now makes things difficult and was suggested that TV is a monstrous consumer and disposer of ideas.


Cindy, who makes a deal of own work, said at the start she is commissioned.

Gerard spoke of the very important ingrediant of being given  studio space – rather than having to buy it. This was a kind of validation that helped him start. Once in the space (structure, time) there was no problem.


If you have a problem with a deadline bring it nearer.

Do not be so hard on yourself; but also try and do something specific by the end of the week.

Don’t fight the problem, but describe it. 

Be practical. Phone up and ask for a space. You have started doing something. You might have to use it.