How community can improve your writing By John Morris

Writing is a lonely and isolating activity at the best of times. As you tap away, trying to expel words from your brain onto the page, you’re – normally – separated from others. But with life as it is, everything has become isolating.

Whilst it’s a great time to write more, it’s also a stressful time that isn’t easy on anyone, and a situation that can easily hamper creativity. The first ‘Sunday Morning Writing’ workshop, run by Bob Schultz, was a great way to interact with other screenwriters as we all tried to create something. 

We had writers in various stages of their careers. Some are currently working in the industry, others who have had some shorts made and want to take writing more seriously, and some newbies trying to get involved.

It was a global affair too with writers joining us from the United States, Australia, Malaysia, Malta and – of course – from across the UK. It was a chance to have a community during these times, to have supportive people around you, even if it’s just virtually. 

The session was a great way to focus our minds, forcing us to get something onto the page. You had to write, with 70 other faces doing the same. The task this week was to write a simple conversation between two individuals, but you were only allowed to use dialogue. No scene headings, no action, and no parentheticals.

The goal was to reveal character through dialogue. 

I wrote a scene between two henchmen, out of an Indiana Jones style movie, discussing the ridiculousness of having to guard strange objects in squalid caves. One guard was growing frustrated with their predicament, whilst the other was just happy to be employed. 

The chat function on Zoom allowed us to interact without disturbing others. It allowed us to share our details to give and receive feedback, as well as network with each other.

Next week they’ll be attempting ‘Break Out Rooms’ to hopefully increase this communal support. 

Beyond the task, we also had Bob on tap, ready to answer questions and occasionally interjecting with relevant stories. A moment that struck me was when he started talking about characters and their truth which led to a wider point about authenticity.

‘As a screenwriter our job is to just write our fundamental truths and hope that they reach the right people at the right time. It’s like a bottle you throw into the ocean. Hopefully you’ll write something and good things happen,” he said. 

The first ‘Sunday Morning Writing’ session was a supportive chamber of writers and a great way to have a bit more interactivity during both the writing process and lockdown. 

It’s less a workshop and more a space to write and that, in itself, was invaluable.

John Morris is a screenwriter, author and filmmaker based in Nottingham. John has already completed a sixty minute feature, two full length screenplays, and a full length novel, alongside dozens of shorter pieces. His Twitter is @JohnJamesMorris.

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