Thursday, May 5, 2011

May Madness Special

Isn't technology wonderful?

Currently I'm penning this newsletter to you in my car. It's warm outside and Robyn's in a meeting - she'll be about an hour. Enough time for me to put together an article and then relax with my Tarot book and cards.

I've been seriously studying the Tarot recently. I find some of the insights into the human condition fascinating - and good research into some of the finer points of motivation that helps bring good fictional characters alive.


Keep Writing.

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Directing Your Writing

Rob Parnell

For anyone who doesn't feel they have enough control over their life, or enough motivation to write sometimes, I recommend directing - either plays or videos, even short movies.

The discipline required to direct a visual project is not only great fun, it can teach you a lot about organization, inspiration and the many other techniques required to bring fiction to life.

Because writing isn't just about putting your thoughts on paper and reading them back with a sense of personal satisfaction. Writing is really about creating something believable and true out of nothing - and having readers (your audience) respond appropriately.

And directing actors, technicians and the many others involved in realizing your vision can teach you heaps about what it means to tell convincing stories to an audience.

You have to know your story very well in order to successfully relate it to others - without reading them the writing. Plus, the act of directing focuses you on the need to sharpen up your communication skills in order to have your 'helpers' fully understand what makes your story different and worth telling.

Quite apart from the simple fact that if you can't relate your story consistently well to many people, you probably shouldn't have spent time writing it in the first place!

Currently I have around 30 people involved in my latest musical production. Far from being difficult, it's actually enormous fun. The part I enjoy the most is letting my mind brainstorm before, during and after rehearsals.

I know from experience that live performances rarely go as planned. They're organic and the trick is to remain flexible. I have back up plans for everything so that if something doesn't work out, then I have an alternative to fall back on.

It's this necessity to think laterally and quickly that adds real spice to the project and often strikes me as a metaphor for life.

Directing something requires your full involvement. Directors are often seen as the 'last man standing' in a creative project.

In life too, when you commit to getting fully involved, you're more likely to attain the outcomes you seek.

So too in writing - unless you fully immerse yourself in your story, you can't expect yourself to grasp exactly what it is you're trying to say.

But you might feel that directing anything isn't something you want to do - or are even capable of.

I often feel the same way!

In non creative situations I'm often paralyzed by self consciousness, fear and doubt. I become so worried about how I'm coming across, I end up coming across badly - the old self fulfilling prophecy...

But when I'm communicating a creative vision, some other power takes over and I'm amazed at how my character changes to accommodate the person I need to be. It's almost bizarre.

Whatever is happening - I recommend it to you.

Perhaps there's a spirit world out there that helps you in these situations. I don't know. Maybe it's always there and most of the time we're so involved in our mundane lives, we don't see it, or ignore its influence.

I guess what I'm saying, hopefully without sounding too pretentious, is that perhaps there's something spiritual about directing. It's hard work of course - there are so many things to think about all at once - but it's so all consuming that it enables you to disconnect from your material self and move into some other, more creative, realm.

Of course, Robyn says I just get obsessed...

...with pretty much every creative project I'm working on at the time. Whether that's a music track, a video, an Internet promotion or a piece of fiction writing I care about.

If I do get obsessed, it must be because I've trained the right side of my brain, the intuitive side, to take the pilot's seat. I deliberately lower the volume of the left hand side, the more self critical side, and let the inspiration flow, for better or worse - until the project is done.

(I hope I've got the sides of the brain the right way round. I'm sure you'll let me know if I'm mistaken!)

I guess it's all about the power of visualization.

Before or during the writing, you need to let your mind see the stories you want to communicate. Just like a director, you need to visualize your characters, the plot and the various actions and events play out in your mind first - before you can fully describe those things in words.

And in order to let your mind pre-visualize your story, you need to let go of the real world - and descend into your subconscious, where all true inspiration lies.

If you're one of those people that suffers from self criticism, you need to let go of that.

The subconscious is not rigid. I've noticed that many artists hold fast to their ideas once formed - but it's the logical side of the brain that's doing that. Your creative and intuitive side is more flexible - it sees meaning in a myriad of combinations and doesn't stick to just one interpretation.

Yes, you need to hold on to a vision - whether you're writing or directing - but the vision is the castle on the horizon. How you get there is not set in stone. It's not a concrete path from A to B.

True creativity requires malleability and a willingness to learn from any and all influences, right or wrong.

After all, we write to be read - and the more readers that 'get' you, the more popular and successful you will become.

That's why directing is such a thrill - because it's not just a project you have to make work on your own terms. You have to make it work for the audience too - something writers often forget.

You are always writing for your audience, whether you like it or not.

And being sharply focused on their needs and their reactions to your work will, I believe, help you become a much better artist and, more especially, a superior writer.

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The Writing Academy

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