The End of the (Acting) Affair?

Panto season is over and I will be free to catch up with my writing and coursework next week.

I have spent some time reflecting on the experience over the last few weeks and it seems to me that the balance of effort to outcome, of writing time lost to benefit gained, may be a little out of kilter.

Has it helped my writing?  Yes, in some ways it has, as I said on Thursday.  It has also given me ideas for future scenes and stories and put me in touch with some very interesting people who may be able to help me in the future.

But time is finite and I have to start thinking about where it can best be used.  Months of rehearsals and planning meetings have led me to the conclusion that I need to reconsider my dramatic interludes.

I am not a performance poet, or a regular public reader, and I know that I need to improve my presentation skills for readings and to build my confidence in sharing my work.  In theory, acting could help with this. However, in reality I don’t think this is the case.  Acting (as we do it) is comedic, unpolished and a team effort.  It is not refined or professional enough to bring to a poetry reading.

Furthermore, being yourself on stage, sharing your own thoughts, is somewhat different to playing a character and reciting someone else’s words.  When I act I feel nervous and embarrassed before going on stage. When I read my own work I feel anxious, exposed and vulnerable.  It matters so much more that the two are almost incomparable.

So from a writing point of view I lose more in time than I gain in skills.

On a personal basis I miss writing in those weeks I don’t do it: I don’t have the right balance in life.  Acting feeds my need to be creative but not my need to develop and explore my own ideas.  It doesn’t fulfil me or challenge me to be better because it doesn’t matter.

I act for fun: writing is a need.  If I have any doubt about what I should and shouldn’t agree to in the future that distinction should help!

In other news – after a short hiatus writing group is back soon and the plan for an open mike event is taking shape, so I hope to have more on that next time!

Happy writing,



Free Post Thursday -Purpose

This week is my drama show and every night is dedicated to trying desperately to act the part of a competent performer.

It’s funny that one of the biggest learning points from my current course is about purpose, and yet I only really got my head around it by being in the drama group.

Every movement in a scene has to have purpose – we are moving left to right to reveal something, conceal something, interact with something.

That is true of writing, but somehow it is easier to learn from physical experience than it is from academic instruction.

Purpose means cutting words that add nothing, replacing words with better ones, making every word in your story count. Purpose means each scene, each sentence in fact, brings something to the story that needs to be there.

This is a lesson I learnt in principle but am not always great at applying to my prose.  I feel in control of purpose in poetry but I can’t apply the skills across my stories and I really don’t know why.

It’s probably in the revision phase, but I haven’t got to the updated study on that yet…

If I can keep in mind what I have understood about purpose on stage and can apply it consistently and appropriately on the page, I am sure it will have a significant impact on the quality of my output.

Watch this space…

Happy writing,




Challenge Tuesday – A Valentine

This week I am sharing a poem that is very special to me – W.H. Auden’s ‘Carry Her Over The Water‘; partly because it’s Valentine’s Day and partly because it’s a poetic example of what I have been learning recently about style, setting and language.

I hope you enjoy it, and for those people who know why it is special, I hope it brings back some happy memories!

Carry Her Over the Water, by W.H. Auden

Carry her over the water,
And set her down under the tree,
Where the culvers white all days and all night,
And the winds from every quarter,
Sing agreeably, agreeably, agreeably of love.

Put a gold ring on her finger,
And press her close to your heart,
While the fish in the lake snapshots take,
And the frog, that sanguine singer,
Sing agreeably, agreeably, agreeably of love.

The streets shall flock to your marriage,
The houses turn round to look,
The tables and chairs say suitable prayers,
And the horses drawing your carriage
Sing agreeably, agreeably, agreeably of love.

(I originally found this in a book of love poetry but it can also be found at allpoetry.com)

Happy Valentine’s Day reading,



Senses – The Hospital, Part 2

Last week I talked about using a visit to the hospital to explore setting, and I thought I would expand on that a little more this week, by focussing on senses.

I have already been reminded that setting is sensory, but what exactly that looks like depends on the scene and the story.  If your character has some sort of disability or hyperability this will also affect your approach.

Here are just a few examples from the hospital to help get you thinking for your own scenes:

Sight: lighting, colours, machinery, beds, bandages, drugs, people in uniforms, curtains, long corridors, seats with plastic covers

Sound: beeping of machines, pumping up of blood pressure monitors, tinny sound of music from other people’s earphones, buzzing of voices, echoing footsteps, scraping of chair legs, sirens

Smell: antiseptic, flowers, antibacterial gel, tea, plastic, floor polish

Feel: Overheated, heavy cotton curtains, slippery bed bars, hard mattresses, thick cardboard trays, tight bandages, the pulling of stitches

Taste: Dry, chemicals, stewed tea, sugary fruit sweets, gravy

Obviously all of these would be open to change depending on why your scene is at the hospital but it’s a place to start thinking about your scene in different ways.

I am going to call it quits there, as it’s about 2 minutes to midnight again, but I hope you find it useful.

Happy writing,





Tomorrow, again.

Sorry guys, it’s been a bit of a busy day and I haven’t quite finished today’s post.

But it’s nearly midnight and I no longer make sense, so will finish tomorrow when my mind is functional.

See you then!




This week has been another non-writing one, because sometime life is a juggling act and I can’t take on that extra ball yet.  It’s been a week in which sleep is too precious to miss and most of my time has been spent in various stages of packing.  Moving house is stressful, even if it isn’t your house!

I have foregone writing to cope with living, really…

However, after another visit to the hospital I have some more ideas to play with in setting, I will be returning to my coursework tomorrow lunchtime, and I have promised myself faithfully that tomorrow evening I will spend at least an hour writing.

I don’t know what yet, it might just be a stream of consciousness.  Or swear words.  Either way, I will be launching myself back into my writing work within 24 hours!

I also want to read a book to focus on language this week; I may not finish but I’ll give it a try.

I have a SMART plan, in business speak.  Now I just need to work smartly to get it all done.

Happy writing,



Challenge Tuesday – The Move

There is no book post this week as I have been busy supporting some close relatives with a house move. It’s been quite difficult finding time to do anything much more than packing and rehearsals for the last few days in fact!

Still, it’s all material for some future scene, so I won’t consider it wasted time, just deferred opportunity!

Happy reading,



%d bloggers like this: