I don’t do guilt. So I am asking this question in the gentlest tone you can imagine: how do you feel in the second month of the new year? I’d guess you are managing to eat better and one New Years Resolution is doing OK. However have you actually done anything about writing that script, finishing your great American novel or starting to write monologues for your next show?
I started writing this post yesterday at 7am on the London tube next to a young lady reading Sand by Hugh Howey and on the front it proclaims ‘Bestselling author of Wool!’
What I do know about Hugh Howey was he took a ten dollar an hour job in a bookshop so he could work 30 hours a week, live small and write novels. He figured he would not get published for years but he wrote, self published and wrote again. His coworker thought he was mad, this endless churning of novels without any obvious reward. His 9th novel Wool he realised was actually a series of continuous novellas, by that time he was trusting his writing instinct and writing everyday he was in the flow, doing that ‘I am going to create no matter what’, ‘today I am writing for an hour no matter what’. That series of novellas he wrote, started charting in the Amazon charts – at one point all 5 novellas were the top 5 of the chart for his kind of fiction.
Then every book, including his old ones started selling, then a publishing deal. The final cherry on the top was 20th Century Fox buying the rights to the screenplay for Wool.
My point is in the craziness of life you have to commit to carving out time to create. That nowadays we all get to pick ourselves, we no longer have to wait for a record label to fund our album or a great acting agent to make our own film. Choosing yourself means committing to find time for yourself to create, market and fulfil your dreams. There is often no one asking you when your work is going to be ready, no editor or director waiting for your work.
Production still image from LATENT Marysia Trembecka
The only real way I find that works for me is external deadlines. I booked before Christmas a one hour slot for my next solo show The Singing Psychic at the Tristan Bates Theatre. This morning I flew off to the Berlin Film Festival for 5 days, I am currently filming three days a week on a commercial modelling job for the next 8 months and fitting in short films where I can. I even got to go to BAFTA last week for a screening of LATENT. The shot of me mid death scene was even turned into the flyer for the whole BAFTA event.
Still over hanging all this work and the busyness of a life as a working actress is the knowledge that now, two weeks yesterday, on Feb 19th at 6pm I have a stage for an entire hour and I need to do the best I can for my audience, tell my story in the most authentic way.
I have even set myself mini deadlines. I have booked 3 times in the last few weeks to see my director Colin Watkeys whom I have brought in to help me focus my piece. I started working with him last year on a solo theatre workshop at the Actors Centre. I have produced and performed many solo pieces, even toured Edinburgh, Montreal and Brighton Festivals before with my solo shows. But in signing up to do a workshop it made me create, made me ‘do my homework’ , make sure I had some new script written to try out. An 8 minute piece became a 20 minute piece and I did one to one theatre – so one audience member to one performer – perfect for my Singing Psychic character as she could do readings. I then had to have the bravery or insanity (depends on which family member you ask) to commit to booking the full show. Now as each week flies past I know that seeing Colin is the pinpoint for me to move the show forward. No matter what happens in my daily life I have a director who is expecting me to have moved the show forward.
Link to my podcast interview with Colin Watkeys on How to Create a Solo Theatre show.
Colin Watkeys is a fantastic director of solo theatre, having worked with many award winning solo theatre artists including Ken Campbell and Claire Dowie and it is good to have that external eye to what I am creating. However that focus/deadline I have set in seeing him on a weekly basis means it makes me work, I stop banging on about how much work I have to do and actually knuckle down to doing the work in the corners of my wonderfully busy life. Blocking entire days frightens me, learning the words to my finale song on the plane to Berlin this morning amuses me.
I am an artist, I like to play!
FIRST 2015 Poster for Tristan Bates Theatre
This is also a first, being on the same flyer as Diana Rigg who is opening the festival with her solo show (Her photo is below mine in the top right of the poster as above!)
So the question is what can you fit in your daily life, maybe commiting to a class or a group of friends to discuss your work could be the key to becoming a successful creative?
Details of my Singing Psychic show at the Tristan Bates
Thursday 19th Feb 6pm, Tristan Bates Theatre, 1A Tower Street, Covent Garden
Booking and details of my Singing Psychic show atthe Tristan Bates
How to be a successful creative: create in the corners of your life
I don’t do guilt. So I am asking this question in the gentlest tone you can imagine: how do you feel in the second month of the new year?