You have have seen on my site recently that I'm doing a storytelling project called Joe And The Snow. I thought I'd do some process capture about how I'm doing it, why I'm doing it and what I'm getting form it.
Joe And The Snow is a name that I think emerged on day 3 or 4, at first all I knew was that it would be a storytelling project and that the main character would be called Joe. I still don't even know how it ends.
Everyday I sit down at my laptop and I write, I don't edit backwards over anything I just have to write and keep moving forwards. This means that I am kind of forced to write quickly or I get bored and frustrated, this also means that I can't second guess myself. As an early career writer I have problems with what I called my "Editor", he's the guy (definitely a man) in my head that says things like "Why are you bothering?", "You'll never be a good writer so you might as well stop now". I think it's something writers struggle with throughout their career but the joyful thing about this process is that there isn't time for the editor to do that. Also if I've had a busy day and don't have time to start writing until I get home and it had to be done by midnight then I write SO quickly that the editor isn't even a thing in my head.
I sometimes scan through the writing quickly before I make it live to catch any major spelling mistakes (I struggle to hit keys with much co-ordination when writing quickly sometimes) but I never read it back properly to think about it. The only time I've ever read anything back is to fact check a plot point or check a response to see what other possibilities might be agined form it.
This all means that I'm creating an environment where I'm paying attention to craft a lot. Not in a way in which I am criticising myself but I am producing such a volume of work without Editor interference that I feel I can more clearly see parts where I am getting bored and my writing needs to change. In these situations I'm not saying to myself "That's not good enough" I'm saying "Next time, lets try something different" because once it's on the page there's nothing I can do about it. It's teaching me a lot about my own writing craft and how I might develop it.
I know some people might wonder how this can help as I'm practsing what is effectively serial writing through prose but the way I'm learning to experiment with sentence structure under pressure means that I'm building into my prose writing a natural understanding fo the form. So when I next go to write prose in a more considered way I naturally use my craft instead of having to think "Oh I need to do it in this way" a lot (hopefully). I've visibly felt my storytelling become more natural in a tiny way just over 9 days.
In a theatrical environment which is currently starved of funding it's a way I can begin to work on my craft without having to pay some kind of "writing guru" to stand in front of a class and impart their wisdom on me. I appreciate that involving those with a lot of experience can enhance the learning process but I don't really react well to lecturing because I struggle to pay attention and I want to engage more than that. It's also a free thing I can do, sure there is the website hosting cost but Wix is pretty cheap and the contact with a wider community I get form an online presence is definitely worth the cost.
The collaborative element of it is really great for me, the way I am doing the project means that I get a lot from it if nobody collaborates as I've already shown however collaboration enhances the process. I am really interested in honing the craft of my writing and I couldn't produce half the material that has been contributed to it. When people colaborate I am hoping they get the same experience as me, that they are honing their skills at whatever they choose to do in a very low-cost environment.
It's a challenge of course when people respond to the story but also if I say yes to the things that people send me, or at least part of the thing, then it forces me to be more creative. For example the original idea I had was that the elf hats could be used for any magic but then @toksvig responded with a drawing of a hat where every part of it had a different function and I realised that was the challenge. OF COURSE the elves couldn't just do anything, there was a limitation to all magic. Then I had to flex my creative muscles more in order to join the dots and say yes to that response.
Community is a big part of what I'm getting from the collaboration as well. I am connecting with other creatives who are collaborating on this project, creatives who I might work with in future. As someone who (at least attempts to) write musicals but also who doesn't write music in the conventional sense a lot of my practice is about collaboration. I can devise music but I couldn't capture it on a score without a collaborator. Therefore the links I am forming, which are not costing the price of a ticket to a networking event, will hopefully come in really useful in the future.
Writing can be lonely but it doesn't have to be, we can help each other more than we realise sometimes.
I would be overjoyed if someone else started a simultaneous advent calendar as a collaboration and told the story of their characters in the world we are creating. Maybe some other elves are on another adventure this christmas, the two stories could then talk to each other in the same world.
The Informal Invitation
This invitation comes in a few forms and will be more formalised shortly when I figure out how I'm going to do this. For now it would be good to effectively get a "show of hands" for interest. Firstly I would like to continually invite you all to keep playing in #JoeAndTheSnow and responding to these collaborations.
I would also like to invite you to collaborate in a different way. For the final beat of the story (which will be christmas day) I would like to make something more than prose. However, I can't do this alone in a particularly successful way.
I am making the promise now that on Christmas Day, whatever contribution I make will not simply be prose, there will be something else. I am considering using Open Space principles and inviting creatives (or anyone who wants to be creative) to collaborate and produce the final beat of the story, this will likely be over an online forum or a physical presence will probably be established around me. It will also likely be that the final bit of the story will be produced on christmas eve, within a small time limit and we can see what we can produce as a community in that time.
This is currently an informal invitation so if any has any thoughts about how this might happen. please get in touch. I will likely be in Doncaster on Christmas Eve with my family so if there are any Yorkshire based artists reading this then maybe there can be some physical collaboration, otherwise I'm thinking a google drive collaboration of some kind might be great?
I would love it if the final beat could be expressed through song / animation / images / video / music / anything that anyone who wants to collaborate can bring.
Maybe Christmas Eve is not the best time to do it? I'm not sure but thought it would be good to see if there is any response from those who might want to colaborate before I structure a formal invitation.