My pal Christine Robertson (@xtine_robbo ) invited me to answer these 4 simple questions about writing (I must be in a philosophical mood as I found them very deep!). I will link to Christine and nominate 3 more people… (is that right?!!)
1. What are you working on?
Today I am trying to progress several new sitcom ideas and draw a few pictures for a children’s book idea I am working on with my Aunt. However, my BBC radio 4 show went out last night at 11pm.
( http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b046ny8j ) and I am being distracted by replying to lovely kind messages. I have just disabled notifications as I cannot leave emails in my inbox or life will become confused so hopefully focus will ensue. Today is the first proper writing day I’ve had in ages, I have tea and nuts, I spent yesterday cleaning my house so I have no excuses. I have a cold.
2. How does my work differ from others in my genre?
IS my work different is the first question I ask myself? What is my unique selling point? And why do we try to be different? I am in a double act (Trodd en Bratt say “Well Done You “ is currently on BBC Radio 4 on Thursdays at 11pm- did I mention that?!) We do try to be different- but not for the sake of it- we like to make an audience stretch themselves, not just give them laughs on a plate. We love trying to work out the science behind a laugh, what kind of laugh it is and how to get the right laugh. We love character too. We are different as we use improvisation (we have both been part of The Showstoppers improvised musical for 7 years- @theshowstoppers). In many ways we honour our heroes/heroines of comedy; “you be the short one, I’ll be the tall one. We’ll both be idiots” (Morecambe and Wise). But if you’re asking what makes us unique, it could be that we are us. We are silly, dark, musical, improvisatory, actors and we’ve so far written the shows all by ourselves and we’re women. But everything’s been done a hundred times, nothing’s new it’s trying to do it with originality- is that a massive contradiction!!
3. Why do I write what I do?
I write comedy, because it comes more naturally to me than drama. I have written serious plays and would like to do more in the future, but I am predisposed to think thought like: “oooh! that would be funnier if…” or “why don’t we put this character in, it’s all gotten a bit serious”. I find laughing more therapeutic than crying, more communal and it’s an honour to do it. I love the relationship of performers and the union between performer and audience. I find it a spiritual process. When I’m really writing/ channelling, somebody else jumps into my body, usually the characters, and takes over.
4. How does my writing process work?
I always carry a notebook. Sometimes I refer to them years later. For example, the opening sketch Series 1 episode 1 of Trodd en Bratt say “well done you” is a sketch called “John’s Fringe” whereby a group of dinner party guests, talk about each other behind their backs and don’t want to mention John’s new fringe. This came from an ancient note I had which just said “nobody mention John’s fringe”- it must have been something I overheard. I do that a lot- what a cliche. On a writing day by myself, I do 3 sides of free association pages to get warmed up and then focus on what deadline I have to meet. Usually in a sitcom, once I’ve got the characters and location, I’ll have a scenarios and actions and build from there- rather than concentrate on banter. Character and action always comes first. If I’m writing with Ruth, we used to dress up and record ourselves improvising, but latterly we drink a lot of tea and write really fast. If we couldn’t be in the same room, one of us would start something and email it over to the other to finish. Deadlines really help. I’m more of a morning writer, but I love to stay up late pretending it’s urgent.