Writing Workout (2-3h) – Problem Solving.

You might be working on a show, or a collection, or a pamphlet or just know there is something you need to write about or maybe you are tired of constantly writing into the darkness and want to have more of a plan?

As I am working towards a show there a few scenes I know I need to write, and I kind find that hard (as you may have seen from my other more freestyle focused writing exercises) I really enjoy writing into the dream part of my brain and being surprised at what comes out.

But there is a fight/ cypher scene I know I needed to write, so I took this morning 7.30am-11am (after exercise + stretching for 15min) to just focus on writing this but with a few goals in mind:

  1. I don’t want to write ferociously, I want to write with consideration and accuracy – using a thesaurus or google to really ensure every word/image I choose feels right for the image I can see so clearly in my head or maybe even am fighting to find clarity with and with each word I get ‘right’ it can become clearer.
  2. I want it to be small and fierce (like me), a tight, compact, concise image that punches someone in the face so each word needs to not work in terms of what it means (dictionary definition) but sound like what it means and pull against my other word choices and the lineation to add new dimensions and layers to that meaning.
  3. Play with the language and music of grime but not on beat, a lot of what I write at the moment is too music, so I kind of want this to be a counter stretch that uses the language I grew up with in a more conversational manor.

 

How? 

1. Find a poem that resonates – I found a poem by Kayo Chongonyi in Kumukanda called In Defence of DarknessIt has a sense of the hidden but also the intimate and gave a clear sensory image in 4 stanza’s which I want.

2. Steal some rules from that poem – I took:

  • 2 x 4 line stanzas and 2 x 5 line stanzas
  • line length similar
  • Lots of sensory detail

3. Add a rule of your own – I added:

  • Make the punctuation more visible like it looks like what is happening and only use .?\/() (This is because I want to think about how my show is published, I don’t want to adhere to the formal grammatical rules but instead think about how MCs use it and how my dyslexic mind more intrinsically see’s it).

4. Set time aside and commit – This is really a longer exercise, because I want you to take time over each word, get a coffee if and when you need, listen to a song, have a dance. Take little breaks to clean your mind, it’s not about vigorously writing and editing but meditating and mulling the images/smells/textures in your mind until the right once comes to the surface but you are still working towards a full draft by the end of the allotted time…

Mosh from the Humanities Block

Editing Note: When returning to this I will take out the scaffolding of the rules I stole from Kayo, the exercise is the spring board to get the content out, the editing task will be later working out what stanza/line length etc. serves this piece best!

Have a great weekend!

Debris x

 

Writing Workout (40-60min) – Writing Towards a Deadline

I am working towards the deadline now of the first draft of my script for my show with the Royal Court next year. So when I sit down at my desk it is really easy to get overwhelmed by the scale of things (especially as a dyslexic, I have so much writing and even reading through it all is a challenge). Unlike the last couple challenges I have set, this writing workout is to push you to dedicate a good chunk of time to writing, 40min, 60min, maybe even 2 hours if you want to push it that far! I am currently deleting all social media apps off my phone 11am-3.30pm and dedicating this to writing (still use watts app and email in my lunch break but one step at a time).

So, here is an exercise to trick you back into the flow of writing, you will need: 

-A friend or a device that enables you to contact them

-Writing tools of some king (use whatever you feel comfortable with OR maybe use something you don’t feel comfortable, this can be interesting to mix things up and maybe bring about a new writing style)

-a timer on your phone or wherever

1. Get someone you trust in a room, on the phone, on watts app and just talk to them about the show. 

This sounds simple, but this has been such a huge factor to everything I have achieved, whenever I am putting a project together or working with someone I request a mentor/dramaturge/pritical friend/peer even if its just an hour on the phone or a day together. With this piece I was lucky enough to have some times with Hannah Silva who is an amazing poet but also a really close friend (and whom also set the initial writing exercise for me).

You can time the conversation, or just let it flow, you might have it the day before you want to write, or immediately before but the point is to find an event that feels emotionally relevant to the piece you are writing.

For me, this was a fight I was challenged to at at school.

2. First draft, 10min timer, free write (write without questioning, caring about spelling or sh**ness, don’t read any of it back to yourself whilst you are writing). It must; be in the third person, describe the activity running up to the event but not describe the event itself and try and give as much sensory detail as you can… GO!

Fight Scene

Purple blazers running like toddlers through a gang of pigeons,

Year sevens scatter, Tesco value salt and vinegar and blue Panda Pops everywhere

Year 9 is always first, the loudest amongs the crowd shouts

BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF,

Voices gather, burst out of detention, Axel jumps out the top window of the science block,

Taymah chucks her left shoe on top of the humanities building,

Vinnie, the 5ft 3 year 10 jumps on Jaspreets back as she starts sprinting.

Gary’s burger van is abandoned, chili sauce everywhere,

Hayley Folks slips, but braces herself on several other kids.

One random year 8 no one knew existed starts lobbing oranges.

 

All the worst schools wore black trainers, knickers, all black converse,

Air force ones, leggings, black jeans, diamonds in their tights,

Lynx or Joop on their necks, earings bigger than faces,

Sprints sharper than the rush hour Shenfield train

Tighter together than hands to hips in a slow whine.

Every year in the school is there now. Football hooligan zolume,

BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF.

 

Year 10 start the rumours about the chain up Debris’ sleeve,

The foldable scisors tucked to sleep in her right sock,

Apparently she got kicked off the Valentines grounds for setting Amit’s head on fire.

Debris is in the boys gymnasiam changing room getting ready with the mandem,

Billing a zoot as if plaiting a childs hair.

Heathen stands behind her,

pulls a bottle of Blue Alizay out of his bag

and backs a third of the bottle in one then passes

it to Debris, who’s chest is raised,

Tie short and fat, trousers tight around trunk-thighs, elastic breaking and poking out like white hairs.

All 24 of the boys around her have their once purple blazer inside out revealing

An elaborately embellished gold lining, most of them have blackened lips.

 

3. Edit Prep, read through and highlight what is standing out to you (don’t change anything yet, but start to think about some rules you might want to set yourself for editing…

Fight Scene

Purple blazers running like toddlers through a gang of pigeons,

Year sevens scatter, Tesco value salt and vinegar and blue Panda Pops everywhere

Year 9 is always first, the loudest amongs the crowd shouts

BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF,

Voices gather, burst out of detention, Axel jumps out the top window of the science block,

Taymah chucks her left shoe on top of the humanities building,

Vinnie, the 5ft 3 year 10 jumps on Jaspreets back as she starts sprinting.

Gary’s burger van is abandoned, chili sauce everywhere,

Hayley Folks slips, but braces herself on several other kids.

One random year 8 no one knew existed starts lobbing oranges.

 

All the worst schools wore black trainers, knickers, all black converse,

Air force ones, leggings, black jeans, diamonds in their tights,

Lynx or Joop on their necks, earings bigger than faces,

Sprints sharper than the rush hour Shenfield train

Tighter together than hands to hips in a slow whine.

Every year in the school is there now. Football hooligan zolume,

BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF.

 

Year 10 start the rumours about the chain up Debris’ sleeve,

The foldable scisors tucked to sleep in her right sock,

Apparently she got kicked off the Valentines grounds for setting Amit’s head on fire.

Debris is in the boys gymnasiam changing room getting ready with the mandem,

Billing a zoot as if plaiting a childs hair.

Heathen stands behind her,

pulls a bottle of Blue Alizay out of his bag

and backs a third of the bottle in one then passes

it to Debris, who’s chest is raised,

Tie short and fat, trousers tight around trunk-thighs, elastic breaking and poking out like white hairs.

All 24 of the boys around her have their once purple blazer inside out revealing

An elaborately embellished gold lining, most of them have blackened lips.

 

4. Edit, I chose to set myself the following rules which you are free to try out (sometimes its just the idea of having rules that is helpful in a first edit, irrelevant of what they are so if you are new it can be helpful to borrow someone else and see what impact it has). My rules: 

10-15min timer

-Whole piece should be one sentence because I want to see if I can create the breathlessness of running towards a fight and pick the heart rate up of the reader.

-Trial out long and short lines in 3 line stanza’s to play around with the frantic nature and the stop, start, chaos of the run up to a fight.

-Play around with sound, and repetition as much as possible (I have been really obsessed with how this exists in Grime and slang recently so want to try and use some of that thinking), to push that consideration I put a Grime instrumental mix on in the background.

 

Hungry toddlers through squads of purple pigeons,

10p Space Invaders, Fredo’s, blue Panda Pops,

everywhere

 

year 9 is always first, loudest

BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF, burst

out of detention –

 

Axel jumps out the top window of the science block, Taymah chucks her left shoe

on top of the humanities building, Vinnie,

the 5ft 3 year 10 jumps on Jaspreet’s back and she starts sprinting

 

Gary’s burger van

abandoned, chili sauce everywhere, Hayley Folks slips

braces herself on several other kids, one year 8 no one knew existed starts lobbing oranges

 

all black trainers, knickers, Air Force 1s, leggings, reinforced thighs from high rise,

broken lifts, elastic taring diamonds in tights,

Lynx or Joop on necks, earings bigger than faces,

 

Sprints sharper than the rush hour Shenfield train, pupils pack and pull in tighter

than hands to hips in slow whine, jook/jook/jab/jab/dagger dat/splash/splash/splash

Every year in the school is here now

 

BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF

BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF

 

I can barely see or hear out the frosted boys changing room window BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF

BEEF Apparently she got kicked off the Valentines grounds for setting Amit’s head on fire BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF

BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF

 

Heathen is billing a zoot as if plaiting his baby sisters hair, momentarily

one handed, he slides a bottle of Blue Alizay from his Just Do It backpack

backs a third and passes it to Debris

 

all 24 of the boys around her have their once purple blazer inside out

revealing gold lining, most of them have blackened lips

a lick, ready to stick rizla to roach

 

one day bus ticket was all you needed to show for a month round here

bus drivers to scared to ask

Debris slides foldable scissors into left sock

 

bicycle chain her weapon of choice – too much WWF, Streets of Rage and COD

2.30pm, 15min till she needs to be at the school gates

Heathen passes the zoot, condom over the smoke detector

 

the year 11s have started wearing stab proof vests

under the premise of fashion,

BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF

 

The crows start to head out, pilgrims to promise land,

lambs to the slaughter, wise men

to the brightest star

 

awaiting Debris’ heard of grey blazers,

of smoked meat, awaiting the closest they all know to love –

grief.

5. Refine – with as much time as you want, no Music, read Out loud, choose a title I chose to remove all line breaks and push this use of breathlessness (again if you want to try this or give yourself another rule it is up to you, a line break based rule might be fun if you don’t often to this).

 

Hunting for Gold

Hungry toddlers scatter

squads of purple pigeons, 10p Space Invaders, Fredo’s, blue Panda Pops,

a student teacher sobs,

year 9 is always first, loudest

BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF, burst

out of detention –

Axel jumps from the top window of the science block, Taymah lobs her left shoe

on the humanities building, Vinnie,

the 5ft 3 year 10 jumps on Jaspreet’s back and she starts sprinting,

Gary’s burger van

abandoned, chili sauce everywhere, Hayley Folks slips

braces herself on several other kids, one year 8 no one knew existed starts hurling oranges

towards all black trainers, Kickers, Air Force 1s, leggings, reinforced thighs from high rise

broken lifts, elastic taring diamonds in tights,

Lynx or Joop on necks, earings bigger than faces,

and sprints sharper than the rush hour Shenfield train, pupils pack and pull in tight

(hands to hips in slow whine jook/jook/jab/jab/dagger-dat/splash/splash/splash)

every year in the school is here now

BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF

BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF

I can barely see or hear out the frosted boys changing room window BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF

BEEF (apparently she got kicked out the Valentines Secondary grounds  for setting Amit’s head on fire) BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF

BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF

Heathen is billing a zoot as if plaiting his baby sister’s hair, momentarily

one handed, he slides a bottle of blue Alizé from his Just Do It backpack

backs a third and passes it to Debris

all 24 of the boys around her have their once purple blazer inside out

revealing gold lining, most of them have blackened lips

a lick, ready to stick Rizla to roach,

(Debris slides foldable scissors into left sock

bicycle chain into right breast pocked)

2.30pm, 15min till she needs to be at the school gates

Heathen passes the zoot

(condom over the smoke detector)

the year 11s have started wearing stab proof vests

under the premise of fashion BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF BEEF

the crows head out (pilgrims to promise land)

lambs to the slaughter,

wise men

to gold stars.

 

30min Writing Exercises for Intimidation

If you haven’t hear this big life news about my debut show –

I’m happy to announce that my debut show (the completion of the #grimepoetics development over the past year+) has been commissioned by The Royal Court Theatre and will be in there main theatre space in 2018. As a dyslexic 17 year old from a working-class background I guess I always felt I had something to prove. Maybe that’s why I worked so hard to be the boss of all my often seemingly impossible dreams. So to have such a massive institution, known for world class writing, not only champion me but offer up bigger dreams ambitions than even I can conceive is mind blowing and testament to the power of this massive journey of self love and care. Before it felt like if I didn’t work every hour of every day nothing would happen – but now I’m more efficient when I am working as a result of rest/love/dance etc. I’m clearer on who I am and the work has come to me! I HAVE A LONG WAY TO CLIMB (picture Segway) but I am building the strength and team. 

But with this comes INTENSE INTIMIDATION looking at the blank page like WRITE SOMETHING BRILLIANT DEBORAH – GO. When I know that isn’t how it works. So I am trying trick myself with tasks and timers to write, and exercise my writing brain to not worry about brilliance but instead experiment and explore.

So every day, before I start on a show related writing thing, I set myself a writing challenge. Today this was it…

  1. Freewrite (write without thinking, caring, stopping or editing) for 10min to music you love but wouldn’t usually write to. For me this was Soca.

 

Thick fish, sardines fed on feather bowers.

My pelvis is a goat skin drum.

Finger nails pulled, crushed and mixed with white paint

So the walls of his house can shine.

 

I found a box jellyfish in the bath.

I found out you hadn’t been swallowing your cealial,

Just storing it in your cheeks like a hamster.

 

I killed my second hamster with a cheese overdose.

They had to put it down, I wepth over is translucent albino body

From the back middle seat as it lap in my own hands like a prayer to santa.

 

My dad slammed the break, Hammy hit the front windscream

And my parents laughed the whole way home. Funny,

Death isn’t it. My friend cracked her head in a Portuguese swimming pool at 30.

 

Maybe I should bathe in cocpops and oat milk before I die.

Should I go to that nude lane swimming session in the neatherlands.

Or should I finish that poem about how I left my mum so fast

 

It tour her like snot through a napkin. Should I say I am sorry

Even though I didn’t ask to be here.

 

Sometimes I think I am made of the sofa left on the balcony in the rain.

That held up our adolescence so we had somewhere to laugh and hide

And bellow varing shades and textures of green.

 

I want to wear ankle socks more often. But I feel nervous.

I feel nervous. I knew I stopped smoking week for a reason.

Because I think Evil looked like Kermit the frog.

 

And I was really unsure about the consistency of my own socks.

You know, the important stuff? Like doing the splits between two

Caucasian boats on a Canal in Amsterdam at pride.

 

Waking up with purple shins in the smell of 16.

Lynx, weed and scratched so solid CD’s.

I want to lick the back of your hands like a cat.

 

I want to Watt’s App you 18 times whenever I feel sad.

I am going to start texting myself instead.

I know how to use a condom.

 

Well actually I don’t.

I don’t need to, do I?

Has anyone ever been eaten alive by house ants?

 

I feel like a red velvet cake on the pavement.

All red food colouring and no taste.

I want to be on ceramic or washed away.

 

Drafting 10min 

For me this is whilst having a particular focus on patterns, lineation and sense, where can I break the line, delete text, add things, rearrange things to gather some instinctual sense of meaning. What was my subconscious trying to tell me when I wrote this? For me, on reading and editing I was getting a sense of death, sexuality, family and male/female sexual dynamic alongside domestic animal imagery which I was trying to consolidate somehow…

 

His thick fish shimmers as if

fed on feather bowers. My pelvis

is a goat skin drum. His body bobs

like death underwater. Bound

cotton covers. Finger nails

 

pulled, crushed, mixed

with white paint, so the walls of his

house can shine. He hasn’t been

swallowing his cereal, just storing

it in his cheeks like a hamster.

 

I killed my second hamster

with a cheese overdose. Put it down,

I wept over is translucent albino body

the back-middle seat of Mum’s Skoda.

Dad slammed the breaks,

 

Hammy hit the front windscreen

parents laughed the whole way home. Funny,

Death isn’t it. My friend cracked her head

on a miscellaneous rock in

a Portuguese swimming pool. Maybe, I should

 

bathe in Coco Pops and oat milk before I die. I left

my mum so fast it tore her like snot through a cheap napkin. Should I

say I am sorry even though I didn’t ask to be born. Sometimes

I think I am made rain filled sofa. I want

to wear ankle socks more often, but

 

I feel nervous, because I was really

unsure about the consistency of my own

socks. You know, the important stuff? Like,

doing the splits between two

 

Saucasian canal boats at Amsterdam pride. Waking up

with purple shins and the smell of 16 everywhere;

Lynx, weed and scratched so solid CD’s. I want to lick

the back of your hands like a cat. All of you

is so paw-like. I want to Watt’s App you

18 times whenever I feel sad. I know how to use a condom. Well actually

 

I don’t. I don’t need to,

do I? I feel like a red velvet cake

on the pavement. All food colouring,

no taste. I want to be on ceramic

or washed away by a sober, vomit scented, spring Sunday morning.

 

Sharable Version (10min) editing again but more savagely

How hard is each word/line working, is it essential, if you were reading this as a paying audience member/reader what would stay in your brain. + Choose a title and send it to someone you like/trust/know will challenge you to read (depending on what you need). 

 

Miscellaneous Rock

 

He hasn’t been swallowing his cereal, just storing

it in his cheeks like a hamster.

I killed my second hamster

with a cheese overdose. Put it down,

I wept over is translucent albino body

the back-middle seat of Mum’s Skoda.

Dad slammed the breaks,

Hammy hit the front windscreen

parents laughed the whole way home. Funny,

Death isn’t it. My friend cracked her head (just 30)

on a miscellaneous rock in

a Portuguese swimming pool.

I left my mum so fast it tore her

like snot through a cheap napkin.

 

Should I say I am sorry even though

I didn’t ask to be born. But

I’m waking up with purple shins

and the smell of 16 everywhere;

Lynx, weed and scratched so solid CD’s. I want to lick

the back of your hands like a cat.

I know how to use a condom. Well actually

I don’t. I don’t need to, do I?

His red velvet cake on the pavement. All food colouring,

no taste, waiting to be washed

away sober, vomit scented, spring.

 

Hope this is some kinda helpful, Debris. x

p.s. Photography by Tom Morley