A little late flagging this one up, but The Guardian published a lovely feature at the start of last week titled ‘Top artists reveal how to find creative inspiration’, which was exactly that – a number of people from the creative arts sharing tips on how to be more productive, thoughtful and free in the pursuit of creativity. I found pretty much all of them fascinating, but I was particularly interested in the tips presented by Lucy Prebble, who as a playwright and scriptwriter presented a series of very basic tips which I wish I had read before I wrote my first screenplay last year. But most of all I liked her tips because they resonated. I’m not sure which tips I’d pen if I had to try to share insights from my own attempts at creative stuff – perhaps I’ll see if there’s anything worth sharing when I get a bit of time.
In the meantime, here are Lucy’s suggestions – do click through to read the whole piece, though; with contributions from the likes of Lucy, Guy Garvey, Martin Parr, Martha Wainwright and Olivia Williams, there’s loads of valuable stuff.
• Act it out yourself. Draw the curtains.
• If ever a character asks another character, "What do you mean?", the scene needs a rewrite.
• Feeling intimidated is a good sign. Writing from a place of safety produces stuff that is at best dull and at worst dishonest.
• It’s OK to use friends and lovers in your work. They are curiously flattered.
• Imagine the stage, not the location.
• Write backwards. Start from the feeling you want the audience to have at the end and then ask "How might that happen?" continually, until you have a beginning.
• Reveal yourself in your writing, especially the bits you don’t like.
• Accept that, as a result, people you don’t know won’t like you.
• Try not to give characters jobs that really only appear in plays; the deliberately idiosyncratic (eg "the guy who changes the posters on huge billboards at night") or the solipsistic (eg "writer").
• Write about what you don’t know. If you know what you think about something, you can say so in a sentence – it doesn’t take a play.
• An apparently intractable narrative problem is often its own solution if you dramatise the conflict it contains.
• Surround yourself with people who don’t mind you being a bit absent and a bit flakey.
• Be nice to them. They put up with a lot.
• Break any rule if you know deep inside that it is important.
Lucy Prebble taking the applause at a performance of her Enron, The Play.