August 10, 2012
My Wonderwall for ‘Sheila-na-Gig’
I recently blogged about feeling blocked. I had lost my productivity and inspiration and the realisation spun me into a six-week panic attack which was pretty horrible. Nonetheless, I got through it and a lot of pent up creativity burst through with me – coz, Reader, I’m creatin’.
It’s hard to say what pulled me through that scary time. There were a few ‘angels’ around me , but certainly one of the triggers was putting together a ‘ Wonderwall’. My wonderwall is based on an exercise passed to me by a fellow artist who works in performance and uses the wall method to structure, hone and shape his thoughts when devising a new piece. The Wonderwall (my label, not his) is akin to a spidergram, but poster size, allowing you to lay out your thoughts visually, using text, images, colour, shape and form. The Wonderwall particularly appealed to me, coming as I do from an fine art background.
I began my own Wonderwall by pasting up names of characters, themes, titles and phrases and also sketching images that I felt were somehow intrinsic to a play I wanted to write. With these words and images before my eyes, rather than in my head, I began to see structure and connection where I had not seen any previously. I also noticed recurrent themes in my work that I had not deduced before and I realised I was most frequently writing about the role of women, belief systems, chance, and this knowledge helped to clarify and solidify the main pull through themes in my new piece.
So, for those of you feeling a little blocked right now, I’d highly recommend this approach because…. after all…. you’re my wonderwaaallll… : )
PS: The house is being renovated at the moment, meaning there are builders in and out of my room every day – I can’t help musing re what they think on my ‘Wonderwall’ – I’m sure they’ve got me pegged as some sort of paranoid conspiracy theorist with a scary ‘thing’ for naked people with goats’ heads…. ah well…
From Ireland, Sue Healy is Literary Manager at the Finborough Theatre, London, a full-time Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Lincoln. Her book on theatre literary management is published by Routledge, December 2022.
Sue is an award-winning writer for stage, TV, and prose writer.
Her current project, a 6x60minute TV series, is under option. She is under commission with Lone Wolf Media, producers behind PBS’ “Mercy Street”, to co-write the pilot and treatment for a six-part TV series.
Her most recent stage-play, Imaginationship (2018), enjoyed a sold out, extended run at the Finborough and later showed at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough. Her previous stage productions include Cow (Etcetera Theatre, 2017) and Brazen (King’s Head Theatre, 2016), funded by Arts Council England. Sue’s short plays have been performed at the Criterion (Criterion New Writing Showcase), Arcola (The Miniaturists) and Hackney Attic (Fizzy Sherbet Shorts).
Her radio work includes nine plays broadcast on BBC Radio 4 (Opening Lines winner), WLRfm and KCLR96fm.
Sue has won The Molly Keane Award, HISSAC Prize, Escalator Award, Meridian Prize and has been published in nine literary journals and anthologies including: The Moth, Flight, Tainted Innocence, New Writer, Duality, HISSAC, New European Writers. She has been writer-in-residence on Inis Oírr, Aran Islands, and at the Heinrich Boll Cottage on Achill Island. She has also benefitted from annual artist residencies at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, and at Ginestrelle, Assisi in Italy.
An academic with a PhD in modern theatre history, specifically the Royal Court Theatre, Sue has presented her research internationally. She spent eleven years in Budapest, editing Hungary A.M. She has a PhD in modern theatre history (Royal Court Theatre) and is a UEA Creative Writing MA alumnus.
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August 10th, 2012 at 23:17
Love this. Thank you for the inspiration… It’s so easy to think that there’s *nothing* that is going to change the stuckness, bring in new ideas, inspire a new perspective… It’s also easy to be content with not making much effort. This reminds me that if I’m trying things to get out of the stuckness, and I keep trying them, and they keep not working, it probably means I need to try something else…and probably not something else that *I* have thought of… that’s why I need to read blogs like this. 🙂
August 11th, 2012 at 00:03
Aside from the “motivational” kick, I love it as a piece of art. I hope you don’t disassemble them when their purpose is complete. I think you would enjoy looking at some of them a few years down the line. Cheers.
August 11th, 2012 at 04:30
[…] Sue Healy […]
August 11th, 2012 at 06:19
Interesting. I also come from a visual arts background and work in sketchbooks to develop my ideas. My writing notebooks, in contrast, seem quite sterile. Perhaps I will try to make them more like my sketchbooks and see what happens.
August 11th, 2012 at 08:12
Great idea. I like it. Thanks for sharing.
August 11th, 2012 at 08:15
Your bio is excellent. Blocks? Relax, panic only makes it worse. You are fine, but again, I really like the wall idea now I just gotta find a wall I can use. LOL.
August 11th, 2012 at 09:21
Wow. I may try this!!!
August 11th, 2012 at 09:39
I have a book that serves the same purpose…’my idea book’ 😉
August 11th, 2012 at 19:20
Congrats on your unblocking, dear! I only broke through my own recently after almost SIX years! It’s such a relief, isn’t it? I don’t even care that what’s coming out will need extra work because it’s so rusty — just that it’s coming out!
August 13th, 2012 at 09:43
Wow, well done! 🙂
What a great idea!
August 13th, 2012 at 10:16
Thanks for sharing!
I tend to write lists of character traits and plot ideas and link them with arrows. It’s easy to get lost in all the trailing threads.
A wonderwall is a much better idea. And it’s visible all the time, reminding and developing, instead of the same information being scrawled on a sheet of paper that can easily be hidden away.
Great idea. Thanks.
August 14th, 2012 at 16:15
I love this idea. I created “vision boards” from time to time. Now I will create a “wonder wall”! I am blocked right now, but not for the same reasons.
August 15th, 2012 at 18:23
I love the idea of the wonder wall, Sue! I always find that I am most blocked when I can’t visualize what I want to write about.
August 18th, 2012 at 05:55
You make me want to go to the thrift store and find an Oasis CD, just so I can snap it in half. I hate Oasis. Hate hate hate. Remember how they said they were going to be bigger than the Beatles? I do.
Nice collage idea, though.