What have you got in your tool kit that i haven't?

Alice Nutter, 5 October 2012

The question was primarily aimed at writers but other theatre makers/artists/interested parties attended.

Asked this question cause best piece of shared knowledge I ever got from a writer was ‘work four times as hard as everybody else’ and ‘when stuck, get out of the chair and walk.’ Interested in the tools other writers use to improve their work.

Discussion initially veered off into a writer's aims and process. Dave was writing a piece which he wanted to hand over to actors/directors with no context. No names, sexes, ages or race attached to the dialogue, so that other collaboraters define the context. Let's put thisin the tool kit as AMBITION.

Discussion took a slip road into (crudely speaking) how to get a break.
Woman from No Strings talked about needing a regional directors/actors/small companies list to draw on, as helpful for producing work without funding. She's spent 17 months ‘fucking herself up the arse’ learning to be a producer because that is what would get new work on. This is useful once the work's done but need to write the fucker before someone will perform it... back to tool kit.

Filium talked about Linda Barry's tool kit. She had writer's block so she got a little boy to work through the story with her. She would write down the words as he said them. Once...

She wrote it down.
Another word please...
You don't need to just say one word at a time.
But I want to see you write it down.
This made her realise that perhaps her block was because she was attempting to write too fast. So she attempted to write with an icing bag, unfortunately this was messy and icing sugar isn't brilliant for words. So she wrote LARGE with a paint brush, anytime anybody asked how the novel was going, she could say, I'm on page 802.
Working this way the novel took 8 months.
She also writes with a pen and draws spirals when a word won't come. Spirals till it comes.
Other writer's present listen to music to get in the ZONE. Sometimes one song on a loop.
I block out distractions.
Deadlines help. Not got one? Make one up.
Each morning, prior to writing, David Lynch does a type of meditation, silently repeats a word that no-one else knows.
Most of us start with a log line. Withnail and I: two out of work actors go on holiday by mistake.
I start with a story. Have made mistake in past of starting with a world, researching it extensively and having brilliant world and no bloody story. Might work for some though.
Writer musician thought of his story, wrote listening to music ‘not thinking.’ Also editing first draft ‘without thinking’.
Read the words out loud.
READ, PLAYS, SCRIPTS, POETRY, NOVELS. Whatever suits your genre BUT

I look for cliches in scripts. Mark them mentally as ‘never to be used.’
Write with confidence. Writers have to believe they are good.
Structure. I always use structure. Must have a beginning, a middle and an end, not necessarily in that order.
A story needs a shape. It was cited that theatre is different, the shape might be ‘a walk along the beach in Norfolk.’
Know the rules before you ditch them.
Sarah Kane aware of rules, non traditional work still needs SHAPE, even if that shape is disintegration.
Good tipl: Stephen King's book on writing.
Let your characters breathe. If they wouldn't do something, don't artificially force them to just to fit what you believe is your story. VEERING OFF can be more interesting. Some writers devised and developed with actors. Their tool kit was this kind of collaboration.
Get a peer to read your work, be prepared to hear what's wrong with it. Attempt to fix it,
Never send out what you think is your first draft. Writing is rewriting. and then rewriting.
My own toolkit contains working with people who (I hate saying this) are actually better than me so I have to step up to the plate.
Write with verve and economy.
Do whatever you have to do to improve the work.In the end, your ego might have written the piece, then leave it behind and make quality the priority.

Discussion veered off again into difference between writing for TV and theatre.

After the session Oliver helpfully said: A writer's creativity is liberated by constraints.' Oulipo wrote an entire novel without E's. (the alphabet E not MDMA)