Changing gear

Sometimes I find it really hard to switch gears, that is, to move from writing to the real world. It depends on what I’m writing of course, but generally I find the process so all consuming I struggle to clear my mind when the day’s done.

Comedy’s easier. Sketch writing is particularly easy, they’re so short it’s hard to leave one unfinished. When a project’s over, it’s over. There’s no more to think about until it’s time to start re-writes.

If it’s a longer comedy piece, at least if I have to leave it and go and talk to some real people there’s a slim chance I might be able to say something funny. Occasionally I catch myself repeating a bit of what I’ve just written, as if it was something I saw on TV recently. Sometimes I even genuinely believe I have seen it somewhere and can’t remember what the program was called. When I do remember it’s a bit embarrassing.

“Oh wait, that was something I wrote. Sorry.”

Writing drama is the hardest. The last feature I wrote (or rather re-wrote) was quite depressing towards the end. I find I have to adopt that frame of mind in order to accurately depict how the character will react. A kind of method writing. To leave something like that hanging, knowing I’m going to go back to it in the morning, and then go and socialise or spend time with my wife is quite difficult.

I find I can’t concentrate on the real world, on what’s going on around me. I find I’m constantly trying to keep all the story threads alive in my mind, trying to make sure I can just pick it all up again the next day without wondering where the hell I was going, or what the solution to a problem was.

I think this can be particularly trying for my wife, Mandy, and for my friends. I think during these times I’m sullen and uncommunicative. Certainly no fun to be around, probably barely less than tolerable.

I find Kung Fu helps. When someone tries to hit me with a big stick I suddenly find my mind snaps back into focus. I’ve got this rope dart which I occasionally muck about with, basically a iron spike on the end of a piece of rope. When it’s whirling around your body, it’s impossible to have any thought in your mind other than:

“Fuck, I hope that massive, sharp lump of metal doesn’t hit me in the face.”


Maybe that’s the answer? Maybe if I’m writing and someone pops round, I should excuse myself and go and throw the rope dart around for a bit? Mind you, that’s probably even weirder than just grunting at people whilst vainly struggling to remember how the theme fits in with the third act.

I honestly don’t know what the solution is. I don’t even know if there is a solution, other than only write sketches or don’t write at all.

Or get rid of all my friends.

Does anyone else have the same problem? Do any of you find it difficult to reorient yourself to reality? Or is it just me?

Categories: Writing and life | Leave a comment

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