Do It In 10 Weeks: Creative Writing in Media
Having gone through this process twice already, I will attempt to give an account of exactly how things go in these classes, and hopefully give you an idea of whether this type of process will work for you.
Stage One- Ideas
Of course, this is where you start. And this, unfortunately, is the step that cannot be streamlined or rationalised. On the very first day, we raise the question: where do ideas come from? The answer, unfortunately is: anywhere. This is not particularly helpful, I admit. So mostly the solution is to pay attention, when you’re on the bus, or in the shower, or procrastinating on essays. And then write it down.
What you have to do: bring three ideas to class.
What you can expect: writing exercises, smelling incense, listening to curious music, and attempting to get inspired. With varying results.
Stage Two - Character Profiles
Profiles come when you already have an idea of what the players in your story will be, but still aren’t sure exactly what makes them tick.
They take different forms, and you can expect to discuss these in class. Interviews are very common: sometimes you learn the most about your characters just by asking yourself questions.
Stage Three - Outlines
Whether you will develop outlines for all three of your ideas, or just the one you are definitely going to pursue is both up to you and your tutor. They might only require one, but you might be unsure, or torn between two ideas. You still have time, at this point.
If you’ve ever attempted any writing at all, you might know that the creative process is deeply personal, and varies from person to person.
Which is why it’s particularly hard to devise a plan that will fit a class of fifteen different people, all with different interests, tempers and styles.Regardless, if you plan on joining any creative writing class, that is what awaits you.
Here in the Media Department at Goldsmiths – speaking from a Media and English degree perspective – we must do it in ten weeks.
The good thing about outlining, is that this is the point where you start to get feedback. Your classmates are there to point out the bits that seem to make no sense, and give you further ideas. Truly great things (and not-so-great things, and absolutely bizarre things) have sprung out from these sessions. I can’t promise you won’t want to kill your classmates at any given time, but I also never promised this would be a painless process.
Stage Four - First Draft
The good news is: in the words of American novelist Jane Smiley, ‘all the first draft has to do is exist.’ This is not going to save you from critique from your tutor and your classmates, but it is good to keep it in mind while writing. I found, myself, that turning off my inner editor while writing is often the only way to get to the end.
Depending on how things work for your year and your class, you might have a month or you might have a week to churn out your first draft.
What you’ll have to do: read lots, write a report on other drafts, take good notes.
Stage Five - Even More Drafts
Feedback sessions from the first draft can be really helpful, but also really confusing. At this point, you can write a second, or third draft. Unless you’re very lucky and your piece is already perfect.
One thing to look forward to: dramatic group readings. Especially if someone wrote a comedy script.