The only advice I would ever give to another writer would be to
1) write everyday
2) Listen to any constructive feedback that you receive.
The second piece of advice I can do with ease. At first it is very difficult to share your work, let alone allow anyone to critique it. But like everything in life, the more you do something and come out of your comfort zone the easier it becomes.
Writing everyday is something that I find difficult at times. I enjoy putting words into a script, or on a notebook, but life can get in the way. It would be fantastic to be able to work part-time and write during my days off, but the reality of a mortgage and bills to pay can sometimes cause havoc with the dream. Take the past ten days, work is extremely hectic and I have worked long hours as the university I work at is in the middle of exam boards.
My priority is to make sure that my students have been awarded their degrees so that they can attend the graduation ceremony next month. This involves early starts, late finishes and the last thing I want to do when I am exhausted is to the switch on the laptop no matter how much I enjoy writing.
Hence, I am very much behind on this June writing challenge.
I’ll catch up though. I hope.
I have got behind on a number of days with the @sofluid writing challenge due to being very busy at work at the tail end of last week. As this week is also going to be a busy one, it may also be that I have to write a few blogs in one go. If I can sort out my time management it would be possible to just write them in advance. We’ll see.
So, onto a secret hobby. The only thing that springs to mind on this is a new hobby of mine which I haven’t really told anyone about due to the fact that people will think it’s a bit weird. Well should I say, when I excitedly told my other half about it he couldn’t see the appeal.
Anyway, a month or so ago a person on twitter who I follow tweeted about http://www.postcrossing.com and that she had received a couple of postcards that morning. I had a quick look at the site, as I do tend to look at links etc if I am interested by a specific tweet.
Postcrossing is free to join, and you are given an address from a member who could be anywhere in the world, all you have to do is send them a postcard from where you live. In return, once yours has been received and logged on the site then you will receive one back.
As someone who had dozens of penpals as a teenager, one thing I miss since the arrival of email and facebook is receiving letters in the post. This is the next best thing.
So far I have sent postcards to Russia, Germany, Bulgaria and Netherlands and am currently awaiting my first to be returned.
I guess you could classify that as a new secret hobby, although not so secret anymore.
And so day five has come and nearly gone for the @sofluid write a blog post per day challenge. So, far I have really enjoyed participating in this. Not only has it made me focus on writing a few paragraphs, but it has also given me a few extra followers to my blog http://www.northernscribbler.com and to my twitter account @sarahcassidy.
One of my assignments for my MA Scriptwriting was to work collaboratively on a radio drama. It was challenging at first as there were some big personalities in the team, but after a few weeks we got to know each other better and began to devise a full eight part drama. For me the experience was valuable, as previously I had only written my own ideas and devised my own characters.
Therefore the thing I would like to try would be attending an actual story conference, and to be given the opportunity to write an episode of television of my own. Of course getting that first writing credit under my belt would be a dream come true.
I would also like to try joining a book club, but at the moment I don’t have the time to commit myself to reading in the short space of time that these groups command.
It’s taken me nearly a month to get 43% through ‘We need to talk about Kevin” and I’m reading that each evening before bedtime. Maybe when I am a successful writer and I can choose my working hours, will I be able to return to being the book worm that I once was as a teenager.
Having been basically crap with writing regularly in this blog I thought I would take up the challenge of www.writesofluid.com’s blog writing challenge. One blog post a day for all of June! A big challenge when I can barely write one blog per month at the moment.
So the challenge for the 1st June 2013 is “How I got into writing”
I have written for as long as I can remember. English was my favourite subject at school. I remember a teacher telling me that I wrote too much and she couldn’t keep giving me extra exercise books. Then an excellent teacher called Mrs Elliot was so inspiring and encouraged me to write as much as I could. I remember wanting to be a journalist when I was fourteen, but then changing my mind and wanting to be a teacher as my work experience had been in a school. I ended up doing neither.
As a teenager I had many penfriends. I used to spend most evening writing to these penfriends from all around the world. I kid you not when I tell you that at one point I had approximately thirty five penpals. I would spend all my hard earned wages from my paper round on stamps and writing paper.
One penfriend in Australia I wrote to every day. Thank goodness for her as receiving her letters and writing to her was such a godsend. We also used to write stories on A4 sheets of paper and post them. So she would start a story, write a few lines and then post it to me. I would then write a few lines and send it back etc etc. It was great fun, although when those stories got long the postage was immense.
I kept diaries throughout my teen years which I still have to this day, although I tend to avoid reading them as part of me wants to forget how sad I was. I will go back and read them properly one day as I do want to write either a theatre play, or a radio play about growing up in the late 80s/90s.
I stopped writing as much in my twenties as I was busy raising small children, although I carried on reading lots. Thinking on, reading and writing are great escapes from the real word aren’t they? That’s probably why I struggle sometimes and procrastinate when I should be typing away, it’s easier to be creative when you are wanting to escape from reality.
In my early thirties I spent a number of years studying for a Higher National Diploma, then onto an undergraduate degree so I was writing essays every other week. Writing for leisure took a backstep.
The writing commenced again when I changed jobs, from a boring council finance job into a position at a university in the media and journalism department. Things do happen for a reason, and I immediately began to write again. Articles for a woman’s online magazine, match reports for my son’s sports team and this blog. Nowadays, I am a theatre reviewer too so I get the best of both worlds, seeing amazing live stage shows for free and getting to write about them afterwards.
But, something has always been there at the back of my mind that I wanted to write fiction. Create my own characters, my own plots and my own world for these characters to live in. I always fancied the idea of writing a novel, but I know that my prose skills are not the slickest and that I find dialogue much easier so when I got accepted onto a masters degree in television and radio scriptwriting in 2011, I felt like this was the opportunity to start writing with a goal in mind.
Having just completed the classes, I have a portfolio to finish before I start my masters project which I am excited about writing. A six-part comedy drama about a family of women forced to live together after a family breakdown. I’ve got nine months to write it in, so I am hoping to write a couple of scenes per day (day job permiting).
I’ve also been taking playwriting classes too at a fringe theatre in Manchester, as it’ll be easier to make a name for myself as a writer doing theatre first. Manchester is also a vibrant, cultural city where playwrights are celebrated. I hope to get something out there soon, once I have a play performed with my name on the poster then at that point will I consider myself a writer.
I’m sure Sally Wainwright, Tony Marchant and the likes still get a buzz from seeing carefully crafted characters brought to life in front of them. So far in my writing career I’ve experienced this twice.
The first time was just before Christmas when a radio play that I was co-writing was recorded in a radio studio at the university by performance students. I remember walking to the studio and overhearing a young actress practicing her lines with a Polish accent. This made me chuckle to myself as this character that she was rehearsing was the character that I created for the radio drama series.
On top of my scriptwriting I have also been taking a short course in Writing for Stage. This was run by The Houldsworth, a new fringe theatre in the Northern Quarter in Manchester. Each week we would look at various aspects of storytelling such as creating characters, structure, dialogue and stage directions in the hope that by the final week we would have a few scenes of a play that could be performed live.
Last weekend was the final week of the beginners course, and the session was dedicated to actors performing our selected scenes. Although slightly nervous at the prospect that what appears in my head and onto paper will not match what appears on stage – the experience was one that I had been looking forward to in the run up to the weekend.
It did not disappoint.
Five actors who work closely with The Houldsworth Rep Theatre gave up their Saturday to perform extracts from several plays all written by the course members.
Most of the playwrights felt slightly anxious as soon as their play was the next one to be performed, but the actors did a sterling job and hearing words that first are heard in your head, to being performed in character by a professional was one of the most satisfying experiences a writer can have.