VAULT FESTIVAL : A Beginners Guide To Writing For The Stage


In celebration of Vault Festival, I attended IdeasTap‘s event with Charlotte (Charlie) Josephine, writer and actress of Bitch Boxer. I’m always daring myself to write my first play, but haven’t grown the balls to get that damn pen to paper. Being dyslexic, you wrestle with words on a daily basis, along with the constant spell and grammar checks. Life with words is a scramble, opening every door to your mind palace, grabbing the word by the lines and strangling it onto the page. Then, there is the fear of the reader highlighting your errors, questioning your education and beating you down with their classy stick.  However, I’m slowly gaining confidence to simply write and Charlie’s advice has really inspired me to start writing for the stage.VAULTS

I’m a keen bean when it comes to note-taking so apologies if you feel the points may seem like ‘common sense’, but it always good to be reminded…

General notes:

  • Vomit on the page and then tidy it up
  • Writer’s block means the fear of thinking your ideas are rubbish
  • Optimism is a time saver
  • Just get your words on the page
  • Read a lot, see a lot and watch a lot
  • Feed your head’s subconscious juice
  • Write everyday
  • Exercise your writing muscle- it always needs practice and never ever regret the workout
  • Remember a character exists within a culture. They will suffer social pressures within that specific culture.  The drama lies in their journey to lessen/ease that suffering.
  • Don’t judge your random writing!
  • Plays aren’t for writers (Controversial, especially for big theatre fans, including me!) as you’ll judge your work against others, which creates an obstacle.
  • Plays are for actors and the audience
  • Something that is personal is universal- the familiar is always right
  • No such thing as the “writer’s voice”- your voice is your voice. The beautiful unique thing that makes you
  • Tap into the world of the play- surround yourself within your character’s world
  • Do research and collect the data. If your character works in a coffee shop, go to a coffee shop and make sensory lists (what do you smell, hear, see and taste?), note the environment’s lingo and interview real people within that environment
  • Research can be dull, but it’s vital
  • Think about the actor who will be performing your play- will they be excited to perform?
  • Think about the audience- will it be worth their time and money?
  • Always write from the self, step back and then remove you ( you can do this by changing the gender, age, religion etc.?)
  • Try to write 10 minutes every day and develop a daily routine
  • Have a deadline- the fear and adrenaline will get you there
  • Have a mad love affair with your work and then divorce it
  • Follow your gut, pick your battles and be ambitious!

Questions to ask yourself whilst writing:

  • Who am I?
  • Where am I? Rewrite your draft within a different location- does it change anything? Time of day? Different era?
  • What am I and who am I speaking to?- how does your relationship affect your writing? Who is your audiences? Your relationship with the audience is your terms of conditions.
  • Why am I saying this?
  • What do I want?- do you want to be forgiven? Loved? Accepted?


  • Writing lists under a countdown timer- Give yourself 1 minute to list “Things you would find in a drawer” “Colours” “Names of chocolate bars” etc.
  • Trains your brain to jot down your subconscious thoughts- random poetic metaphors, juxtapositions, personal experiences and unexpected humour will be found.
  • Your creative mind will get a buzz and it’s the perfect way to generate new material.
  • Exercising your brain- make it do somersaults, make it take the weights, make it skip, jog and train it hard. Race against the time. Push yourself and dare yourself to go further.
  • Write random, go away, have a cup of tea (Charlie repeated this- she loves tea!) and then return with a pencil. Select your favourite words and go explore with them
  • Make these lists on your phone whilst you commute (bear in mind of your battery)
  • The lists will become your jigsaw pieces, the beginnings of a brilliant play
  • Stuck on scene? Make your character write their lists. Add one of your obstacles, it might reveal something among your characters
  • Time to get personal- list your wants, needs and obstacles
  • You’ll find you will have less needs, more wants (typical humans!)
  • Your wants and needs will become blurred so question it
  • Write something based on one of your wants and one of your needs e.g. You want sex, but you need sleep (Charlie’s example, not mine)

At the end of the session, I was delighted to hear Charlie was also dyslexic and her success encouraged me to not let this wordy fear affect my confidence. Her determination and motivation towards playwriting awoke my sleepy creative spirit, which seemed exhausted from its uni days and beaten down with the reality of full time work. As I type, I have several ideas for my very first play so I will continue to explore the techniques and hope to find a playwriting course or group. Looks like I might be able to grow my own pair of playwriting balls…you better to watch this space!


Big love and thanks to: Ideastap, Vault Festival(Running from 28th January to 8th March 2015) and Charlotte Josephine.


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