What I Learnt From Diane Samuels | #NaNoWriMo

What I Learnt From Diane Samuels | #NaNoWriMo

I’m thinking of writing a book about my experience in a playwright group, here’s a chapter. Please let me know what you think, is it something you would read?


It’s 27th October 2014 and Diane Samuels joins us. I couldn’t name any of her plays either and I still can’t. However, she is the writer that got me into freewriting. She made me see the light. It is something that must be done every day. Writing is a muscle that must be exercised. It also helps to walk every day. There are other muscles that need your attention too. Inspiration for freewriting can be found anywhere, Samuels askes herself every day: Who am I? what do I want? What am I grateful for? She thinks and writes for twenty minutes.


“Sit down with nothing and stand up with everything.”


The Process

First, answer this question: What is your writing life?


For me, it is the chance to eloquent. Say what I want, my opinions, my interpretations without the pressure of saying it myself. My writing process is bursts of anger and coffee.


This exercise was a lengthy one but you can’t argue with the results. We began with a group of random words. In the writing group, we contributed one each but you can think of your own. Here were ours: think, happy, sweat, black, theatre, light, help, brick, delicious, cardigan, banana, start, lightbulbs, tea, potato, feet, duality, ring, blue, bright, poem and forever.


There was a plan for these words but I set off with my own challenge. I had to write a story with the words in that order. Here’s what I wrote:


“I THINK I’m HAPPY. I can feel the SWEAT run down my back as the BLACK out draw closer on the THEATRE of my life. The LIGHTS are distant and are no longer a comfort or a HELP. I can’t see the breeze block BRICKS that build this hospital and my tomb. The irony tastes DELICIOUS. My life was here. It’s fitting I should die here. My CARDIGAN still holds my identification. Doctor. Doctor. My friends are now my carers. They bring me grapes and BANANAS in place of that Friday pint. Chasing tail. Staring at ladies in skirts that cover nothing. The LIGHTBULBS are hollow glass. The TEA is tasteless. The meals are ignored. I know the POTATOES are fake. My FEET must smell. When was the last time I washed or I was washed? I live in DUALITY, doctor and patient. I doubt every action; every pill I digest. Would I have done that? Probably. It’s rare, what happened. Green rings around my eyes. Cooper. Just one of my symptoms. My eyes are BLUE. Now they are framed with green. Just one of my symptoms. Not enough to find a cause. The lights in this ward used to feel BRIGHT, now they are dull. I used to write poetry you know, POEMS and such. Now they are lost in the great perhaps. The great maybe. The great if only. That seems FOREVER ago.”


I preferred that to what I wrote for the real task set. Using these words in inspire you, continue this sentence: ‘my adventure begins’. Samuels recommended interpreting yourself to add new words and take your adventure in new directions with ‘my adventure continues’ and ‘my adventure asks’. I’m a big believer of the opposite. Never stop yourself. Never try and take control of the story. Let it happen. I know I sound like a hippie but I swear by freewriting. I am now converted.


This is the story that came from the real exercise:


“My adventure begins at the start as I sweat in my chair. I think positive things. Cats! Cats on the internet. Haha! No, what did you read early, before you walked in? I was having breakfast, eating a banana, best cardigan and I was reading my cue cards. I’d done them in bright blue. That’s when I put my hand in and felt the notes in my cardigan pocket.


My adventure continues with a choice, like in the Oedipus at the cross roads outside … fuck, what was that city called? Thebes? Focus. This is media not theatre. What’s that gaze? The creepy one? I feel my bright blue notes in my pocket again. I can feel the comical lightbulb above my head. I could cheat. I wipe my hands on my skirt. The navy turns black with sweat. I calm myself. I count the bricks.


My adventure asks who I am? Am I one to cheat? Would that make me happy? An A would be delicious.”


See? Told you. The first one was better. However, my story Virginia Fears the Wolf came from the second part of that exercise. Share the story with your partner, if you’re on your own, read it outside to yourself. Get or give yourself feedback in the form of: a name, a colour and an animal. I got: Virginia, pink and rabbit. The rabbit and the pink part didn’t stick but the name did.

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