Tuesday 4 October 2022

Doing It Yourself - by Ciaran Murtagh

I spend a lot of time working to order. The world of writing for kids TV is a fairly prescriptive one and more often than not the creative bit is in finding new stories to tell that still manage to fit between the lines. That's not to belittle it. There is something very creative in being able to find new ways to tell eleven minute stories that fit the constraints of the channel, producers and character you happen to be writing for at any given time. However, it does mean that I'm rarely free thinking, just going with the flow and seeing where my writing takes me. 

Even when I give that a try, I'm still hampered by what I've learned. I might be trying to come up with a new character or concept, but before long I'm already starting to think about where it might fit on a particular channel, how long it might be, whether it overlaps with other properties I know are in development... It's hard to turn off that critical faculty and just let my imagination run wild. 

There's also another issue - money. I am in a lucky position that I could spend much of my time writing for money. The blue sky creative bit is a punt. I'm choosing not to write for money and instead to write for my own pleasure / personal development / sheer joy of it. Sure it might lead to something one day, but not right now. It feels strange and indulgent to turn away from something I can write that will give me a pay cheque at the end of the week to something that will give me a warm fuzzy feeling. 

For all these reasons I've been spending less and less time writing for the sheer joy of writing. For seeing where my pen and paper can take me. To unleash the imagination without consequence or without a route map. However, in recent months I've been making a concerted effort to try and carve out some space for myself to do just that, and it's a tonic. I've fond myself in a bit of a purple patch, making sure I have a day a week or there abouts to just write what I want. 

As a consequence I now have projects I actually like that may or may not lead somewhere but which have given me personal satisfaction regardless. It also means that when I sit down to write commissioned work I am more focussed and energised - everything gets done much more quickly. 

It's hard, as a freelancer, to carve out that time. The truth is there is always an email that could be sent or a contact that could be chased. But stopping and letting your brain stretch it's legs is the only professional development you need. 


Sue Purkiss said...

That sounds a good thing to be doing, Ciaran - enjoy!

Andrew Preston said...

Good for you.

It's been obvious from your last several posts on here that
you've been feeling rather like a hamster on a treadmill for a while,
so its great to see that you've found a way to pursue your own stuff.