An Unpolished Adelaide Fringe Diary Part 3: Be Unstoppable
Week Three of Unpolished Theatre company’s run at the Adelaide Fringe Festival where Elliot Warren has blogged on getting through writer's block and the importance of willpower...
It’s time to put yourself in the absolute present and figure out what you need right then and there – for me, it is usually starting with a cup of tea.
There are countless elements to drown under when creating your own work and battling to get it out into the world. Whether it’s creativity, production or being far too self-critical, there are palisades being erected left, right and centre. Deadlines can trickle away from you, and you can be left still mulling over ideas you’ve had for months and months, or even years.
When a process grinds to a crunching halt like this it isn’t time to throw it all to the birds and declare your powerlessness to progress. It’s time to put yourself in the absolute present and figure out what you need right then and there – for me, it is usually starting with a cup of tea.
Thinking in steps is so important. What is the next thing I need to do in order to keep going? Is it an email, is it a quick chat with a producer or a designer, is it to make your bed and open a window?! If you hang onto the bigger picture for too long it can become daunting and monstrous and so far away, that you’d rather go to the pub than spend another minute figuring out how on earth everything is going to be achieved.
Steps. If needs be, tiny baby steps.
When creating Flesh and Bone there were times ‘writer’s block’ would put its big, heavy arm around my shoulder and start to prod at me until my concentration levels were totally absent. Get up and get out, go for a walk, find an environment that could inspire the next scene or chapter in your work. Take a notebook. Change your state.
I used the term ‘writer’s block’ but I’m a little unsure as to whether I believe in it or not. I think it’s more a case of our creative juices being depleted - you may have used it up writing, researching, producing, even emailing, or on some strenuous thinking.
To revive it: talk to friends, strangers, read, walk, listen to music, read newspapers, see theatre, exercise, connect with the world around you and take back your creativity. Or, if it’s freezing outside, or you have a headache, you don’t have any money, or your legs have fallen off, whatever the excuse then, instead, you can divert away from the task at hand and do something very different, but still positive.
Have a dead-set vision, an unwavering optimism for whatever you are creating, but at the same time don’t allow the magnitude of the process to twist your positivity into the opposite. Remember the steps.
I like to create posters and mood boards that represent an ideal future for the project I am working on. For instance, I am writing a short film at the minute and I got completely and utterly infuriatingly stuck. So, I started designing a poster for it if it were made, only it had Tom Hardy, Ray Winstone and Olivia Colman’s names plastered on the front beside mine. Oh and it won a couple of BAFTAs. Sure, it was all made up, but it inspired me - even just imagining those fabulous actors in the roles I had created allowed me to write on.
You must create an end goal, now. Design a poster, or a treatment, or have it in your private notebook that the project you are creating is going to win awards and gain fantastic accolades. Sit on the toilet and interview yourself as if you’re on Graham Norton’s sofa and you’re looking back on your first few shows that projected your career - wear a tie, why not? I swear by these processes. Have a dead-set vision, an unwavering optimism for whatever you are creating, but at the same time don’t allow the magnitude of the process to twist your positivity into the opposite. Remember the steps. What’s next? A sandwich? A coffee? Bang out a couple of emails and the bleak and crooked path to your goal is cleared - the sun begins to shine again.
We are half way through the fringe festival and I think that is why I have an urge to talk about these kinds of things. We are at a point where it’s important to keep our energy up and not let our minds falter. We are well and truly into the swing of things now with plenty of shows under our belt, and we could easily start to get complacent. However, we are still hungry and prepared to dig our heels in and make our mark even at this fringe festival, otherwise what’s the point?
It’s important to check in with yourself every so often and figure out what it is you want from the whole process. There are so many opportunities swirling around at fringes: what is it that you want to grab hold of and not let go until you have it. Reviews? Transfers? Producers? Awards? Agents?
Whatever it may be keep a mental check on it, has it been achieved? No? Crack on then. Yes? What is the next step for you? Planning for the achievements you want to grab a hold of is imperative. If you have already told yourself you are going to achieve something, then what is stopping you? Be unstoppable.
Elliot Warren is a writer and actor, who graduated from the Arts University Bournemouth in 2015 with a BA (Hons) in Acting. He has created his own work since then, including his first play which he wrote, co-directed and starred in, Flesh and Bone. Elliot also created and starred in a mini web-series, Stick Up, which has so far gained over 12 million views; this is currently being developed into a feature film. He is one of the winners of Hat Trick Productions’ new writing scheme ‘Your Voice Your Story’, and is currently developing a series under option with them.