A Source of Inspiration: The Artistic Family Tree

There are two mutually exclusive categories of history that apply to creative work too. One is the Heroic Theory in which great people come along, do pretty amazing things and change the course of history forever. These geniuses are usually described as challenging conventional thinking, mould-breaking and "before their time" or alternatively derided, abused and [...]

How to Stay the Course (when you don’t know what the destination will be…)

There are many times in our lives when we come to the metaphorical crossroads. Do we plunge on ahead, take a left, go back the way we came or pop into the McDonalds for a chocolate shake and some diabetes? A tweet came up in my feed from someone who was undecided about whether or [...]

The Most Creative Question You Can Ask

Questions, when used properly, are the most creative forces in the universe. Almost all scientific breakthroughs were questions before they were answers and many of them were answers to different questions; ones that occurred in the answers to the first! There is one question above all that is the most creative of all. So complex [...]

Loving the Couch: 10 Ways that Freud can Add Depth to your Characters

There are a few images so ingrained in our culture that they're never likely to leave and one of them is therapy couch with the bearded, cigar smoking chap in a comfy leather chair saying (with a vaguely racist accent) Zo, tell me about your muzzerr... Like all stereotypical images, there is a grain of truth there but few psychologists relate [...]

What I Learned About Freedom (From a Horse)

The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it's profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the [...]

Are Your Characters too W.E.I.R.D.?

There's a major issue in psychology that may be inhibiting your writing too. Or is it just your audience preference that's the "problem"? Every day there is a report in the media using the word "could". Coffee could cause cancer, Britain could be blanketed with snow in the next week or so. Journalists could be time-starved [...]

No Such Thing as a Baddie

When I was teaching acting to undergraduates I sometimes had in-depth conversations with them about their characters. Although there are many kinds of acting, including the purely physical and representative, there are some that really like to roll their sleeves up and get to grips with objectives, with motivation, with all the things that makes [...]

Why Your Talent is Like a House of Cards

When I was young I decided I wanted to beat a world record - lots of us did and I blame Roy Castle (80's UK reference!). I'd seen these titans of talent on the TV and narrowed down my potential prodigiousness to beer mat flipping, pogo stick jumping or whisking away a tablecloth to leave [...]

10 Things Teachers Can Learn from Actors

Whether its training bored adults in the gentle arts of spreadsheets or taming a combustible room of 7 year-olds, the process is enough to wear down the most energetic of NQTs let alone a haggard old veteran (as you tend to be the year after QTS). At all times of year, the holidays can’t come [...]

The Guru and the Flood

Here’s a little story about the dangers of believing too strongly in your own myth. In India there is a special kind of teacher called a guru. He isn't an ordinary teacher, not by any means; he doesn't use chalk, ask funny questions or tell you to stop chewing, shut up and sit at your [...]