The Writing Journal #34

I’ve just got back from a weekend of throwing myself off cliffs and down mineshafts. Not because my writing week was that bad, but simply for the fun of it (I hasten to add at this point that it was controlled fun the whole time – only leap from things under the guidance of fully qualified instructors!). We travelled north to Blaenau Ffestiniog for a good friend’s stag weekend where, among other shenanigans that shan’t be mentioned here (what happens on tour, stays on tour…) we tried our hand at Go Below Ultimate Xtreme, and canyoning with North Wales Active. Both were unbelievable experiences, packed full of adrenaline rushes that you definitely don’t get to experience every day. It’s been at least ten years since I’ve done anything comparable, but in that time, I think such escapism has become even more important to our mental (and, of course, physical) wellbeing.

In our digitally-connected world, it’s increasingly difficult to be able to fully cut-off and dissociate from everyday life and the stresses that come with it. We spent seven hours deep underground on Saturday, where the only noise came from our deep breaths and screams on the freefall (you read that right) and the only light came our low-powered headlamps. Otherwise it was total silence and total darkness, in a slate mine that has been left exactly as it was when it was abandoned over a hundred years ago. Phones, laptops and WiFi replaced with mine carts, pickaxes, and even trilby hats, found in the same places they were left by their owners, acting as a time capsule for a very different age. The only thing you have time to think about is where you’re putting your ropes and feet to keep you on the wall above a 50 ft drop; all thoughts of bills and plot twists vanish instantly. The canyoning offered a very similar distraction, albeit a rather noisier, colder, and wetter one. I’m not necessarily suggesting you have to throw yourself down a 400ft zipwire, but doing something beyond your everyday routine to completely cut yourself off from it can really help to hit the mental reset button and get back to your writing feeling refreshed and invigorated.

Target Number 1: Spend a minimum of 20 hours editing my novel.

8hrs 26mins is the current running total for June after a very productive week with the novel. I’ve found the opening chapters particularly challenging to edit, as they need far more description than the film scripts that I am more accustomed to working on. Scripts are a blueprint for a bigger (motion) picture, and whilst you have to get the sense of place/character across within them, it is a collaborative effort to bring that vision to life for an audience. With a novel, you only have yourself and your words to rely on to create a rich, detailed vision for the audience to recreate in their own mind. This is particularly true in the set-up, and knowing how to control the flow of information so that the story can keep moving forward and not get stuck in endless exposition of back story. I’m hoping that I’ve made a bit of a breakthrough in that regard, and that this will now mean I can pick up the pace a bit during my allocated novel hours.

Target Number 2: Write a first draft pitch document for a TV show.

I put digital pen to digital paper on the opening paragraphs of the pitch document last week and begun to form a more solid idea of where I’d like the series to go in the long run. As luck would have it, I stumbled across a brilliant article on Screencraft about creating TV bibles, which has helped me immensely in knowing what sort of information to include and, importantly, how to present it as a selling tool as well. I’m only just scratching the surface on this one, and there is still a way to go before it is a fully-fleshed out show, but the research and early thoughts so far have made me much more confident that I can create an exciting TV show out of this idea which is very pleasing indeed.

A lot still to crack on with then, especially since we’re at the halfway point of June and I’m not halfway through either target as of yet. Before that, I may need to go and find a slightly comfier chair for the week – jumping from 30ft cliffs may be invigorating for the soul but leaves some rather large bruises too…

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