I’m about to re-embark on the Story Adventure – A new story, shorter, spookier, easier for younger children and with a teacher’s/parent forum built in, is kicking off in earnest on 20th January.
So I’ve been looking back at the things that surrounded the Story Adventure, things I wrote and observed.
This is something I wrote during the process for Sara O’Connor to use at a digital presentation about scheduling creativity:
I think that usually, as a writer, I dream before I write. I garden, I take my children to school, I cook, I listen to the radio and that while I do this, a chunk of my brain is actually churning ideas. Then, when I’ve been prevented from writing by real life for long enough, the writing kicks in, fast and furious, like turning on a tap. Normally I’d say that this process is impossible to schedule and that the actual writing is born out of frustration rather than external necessity.
With the Story Adventure, I had a load of ready made creativity from the children which helped me to force the process. I read all the entries the night before, and then slept and dreamed. When I was awake I tried not to actually think about them, but just to let the strongest ideas push the door hardest and end up in the script. I did far less “problem solving” than I would normally do, that will have to take place during the final edit. Given longer, we would have ended up with a completely different story.
Then there was the issue of switching on and off. Having screwed myself into that writing place on a Thursday morning, speaking to no one, checking no emails, drinking no coffee – after writing the chapter, I had to wait another week and get myself back in again the following Thursday morning. Normally, I’d have continued to write the story, but I had to wait for the childrens’ ideas, so I had to stop. I also had to switch very quickly from writer to editor – doing both on the same day.
Of the fifteen chapters I wrote online, I suspect about three of them were artifice, forced out, perhaps lacking heart, the other 12 were spontaneous, and three or four of those wrote themselves in minutes, which is all you can ever hope for.
The last few chapters were harder than the beginning. There were so many possibilities and yet it needed to have a satisfying conclusion – a different person would have mapped it out carefully, but I’m afraid I blundered in and simply had to rewrite when some of the ideas didn’t work.
I suspect if you had put electrodes on to my brain, you would have discovered the right and left working overtime to get it done.
So yes, you can schedule creativity, but it takes huge discipline, and it really isn’t easy.
Also, and this is a side issue – eventually, the Story Adventure process stops you writing another book at the same time. It uses just too much of your head to allow another story in. Editing, fine, but actually writing – no.
The last Story Adventure is in print now as: SHRUNK 2 – Mayhem and Meteorites
There’s no reason to suspect that the next one will be any easier but it will be exciting.