Lizzie Nunnery

Contributor: Lizzie Nunnery
www.lizzienunnery.co.uk
Lizzie Nunnery’s stage play “Intemperance,” was produced at the Liverpool Everyman in October 2007 and published by Faber.

She was one of four writers on the verbatim play “Unprotected” (Liverpool Everyman Theatre, Traverse Edinburgh, BBC Radio 4, 2006) which won the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award. Her short plays include “Wicked Women” (Liverpool Everyman, June 2007, Arcola, December 2007) and “Death in Upper Duke Street” (BBC Radio 3, November 2007).

Her full length radio play “Tiny Chaos” was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2008 and her radio play with songs entitled “The Singer” was broadcast in November 08. She was Pearson Playwright in Residence at the Liverpool Everyman for 2008 through which she developed her latest full length stage play, “The Swallowing Dark”, (rehearsed reading, Everyman Theatre, July 09; a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize).

She is also under commission to Druid Theatre Company in Galway, Ireland. Her short film “Monkey Love” was broadcast on Channel 4 in September 09. Lizzie is also a singer songwriter, her debut album, “Company of Ghosts”, was released on Fellside Records in April 2010 to wide acclaim.

Tip1 Evesdrop shamelessly. It's not nosy or inappropriate: it's your job. On buses, in lifts, in restaurants, in the street, become a professional earwig because everyone around you is a starting point for fiction. And keep a note book and pen with you- you might think you'll remember everything but you won't.
Tip2 Read. Read. Read. So much of writing is about mining other sources for ideas. No one can write well if they don't read. Anyone who thinks they can is almost definitely wrong.
Tip3 Find someone (or if you're lucky several people) who's opinion you trust on your work and be open to constructive criticism. You can't succeed without admitting failure.
Tip4 Be prepared to redraft and rework and redraft some more. Pretty early on in theatre you learn that a play is never finished. There's always something you could do to make it more dramatic or relevant. While you're living, even a published playscript is only a rough blueprint for a production.
Tip5 Write what you know but make it your business to know more. Never stop being curious or get too complacent. Any decent writer knows how to empathise and anyone who can empathise can create any character authentically- no matter how far that person is from their own experience.
Tip6 When I was starting out writing theatre I also worked in a box office, as a theatre usher, on stage door and in the Everyman's Literary Department, and it was completely invaluable. Be around the thing you love. Get as close to it as you can and let people know how passionate you are- it can only pay off.
Tip7 Be brave. Writing's quite an insular and isolated profession the majority of the time, and most of us get in to it because we communicate better on the page than in person, but actually to do it well you have to be out there interacting with people. Make that phone call, interview that person- don't shy away from a difficult topic because it involves scary research. No one can write alone.
Tip8 Be playful. The minute you forget the "play" element of writing a play everything will seize up. Stories are important but if you take them too seriously nothing will flow.
Tip9 Have something else you can do. It might be teaching or singing or painting or you might be the best bar tender in the world but have something separate that you can do and enjoy when you're burnt out with writing or the work isn't coming in as fast as you'd like.
Tip10 Love it. Even when you hate it, love it. Love it so much that you'd do it even if no one ever paid you a penny for it.
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