Let me ask you two questions - 1: What do you want? and 2: Why can't you have it? These questions are simple yet profound, especially for the writer. Let's imagine two characters called Romeo and Juliet, and ask those two questions. What do they want? Well of course they want to be in love. And why can't they have it? Because their families are opposed to the very idea. OK, other things are going on too, but right there is the essence of one of the greatest stories ever told.
These times we live in are horrible, scary, unprecedented, unknown, dangerous, and any other negative description you can come up with. And yet, they present us with other things far more positive too. They give us time to spend with our loved-ones (subject to certain rules), they give us an opportunity perhaps to develop a new skill, seek a new hobby, learn to play an instrument, learn how to paint a picture... and yes, learn how to write. Because also these times give us a story or two. Imagine Romeo and Juliet trying to be together and running the gauntlet of their families' anger... throw a character called Coronavirus into the mix and you have an even greater story! Well, maybe. OK I'm being a little mischievous, reductive even, but I'm just trying to illustrate that all around us there is story, all around us there are opportunities to create characters to enable us to tell that story. All around us is our imagination.
In my thirty years as a professional writer, working in Radio, TV and Theatre, I've often heard that it's not possible to teach people how to write. That may be true, but what I would say is that it IS possible to get people to think more creatively, or (though I loathe the term) "think outside the box." And that's what happens in the workshops I run, and have been running for ITV and others, in the UK and far overseas, for the past ten years.
It's been a pleasure to be part of Nantwich Buddies (though it's no secret that I'm not absolutely in love with the name!) and it's a privilege to host one of my workshops online on 27th October. Due to time restrictions it will be a condensed version of what I do, but those tuning in will see that I'll ask the two simple questions above quite a lot. What do we want? Why can't we have it? Those tuning in should bring along a pen and paper, and expect to do some writing... and yes, share it with the rest of the throng! I know this can be difficult for some, and it's therefore not compulsory. But what I've also come to learn when doing these things is that they work best when they are interactive, they are more fun when we can share our work with others, like a man called Mr Shakespeare did all those years ago. So the workshop will be interactive, it will be fun, it will be hosted sensitively by yours truly, and who knows, it might give at least some of us the beginnings of another greatest story ever told!
OK now stand by for the brazen piece of self-marketing by a writer needing to earn a crust...
My anthology of novellas and short stories, Day Return to Cocoa Yard, is available at Nantwich Bookshop, WHSmith, Barnes&Noble and Waterstones:
Blog contributor Mark Bickerton
Photo by EG Brown