A Long Run Up

I'm not thinking about bowling in cricket, or an attempt at a long jump, but the way I deal with major writing projects.

I've been writing the final details of the six talks I'm giving on next month's cruise, and I realised I've now been working on them for almost a year.  Now, that's a long run up!

But such seems to be my way when faced with something new and sizeable to tackle.

I noticed it when I did my first extended spell of teaching of writing, at the wonderful Swanwick Summer School last year.  I started the planning eight months in advance, during an Xmas break from work.

And for the cruise I can top that - it was more like a year ahead.

It's not that I do the detailed work at that stage.  It's just important to me to start considering the flow of what I'll be doing, and how to divide up the various stages. 

But perhaps more importantly is the variety in what I'm presenting.  I always try to make sure any event I do has a mix of the poignant and funny, insights and entertainments.  And when it's in lecture format, also interactions and exercises.

I hold to the hope that if I keep the audience guessing about what's coming next, it'll keep them engaged and entertained.  That's the theory, at least!

It may well be because I have a low-Watt brain, that I have to start working on these things so far in advance.  But it seems to be the best way for me.

The thoughts coalesce over the days and weeks, new ideas come to me, other elements get discarded, and eventually it all gets shaped into a reasonably coherent plan.

Then comes the tricky bit - actually presenting the things.  And although I've got outlines for the cruise talks, I just know they're going to change when I meet the audience and sense the kind of things they like and are interested in.

Such is the way of the performing art.  Which, of course, is what makes it all fun.

Or perhaps I mean terrifying...