I have a job that is unlike the profession of many of the people who contribute to Strictly Writing – can you guess what it is? Here are some clues . . .
I’m paid to invent characters and conjure up interesting settings and then write about them. I have to dream up plausible and lifelike situations into which to put the characters. It’s important that there should be tension and conflict in what I write and that the people who read it should not be able to guess what happens to the characters or what their true motivations are from the start. Often the characters are eventually played by professional actors and the whole drama is filmed.
Yes, you guessed it, I’m a business psychologist.
At the moment I’m designing a collection of role-plays for use on leadership development programmes. The work is fun and it demands a certain amount of creativity and insight into the business models and operational practices of large organisations. The exercises have to replicate tight corners faced by senior managers and stretch their leadership abilities to the full. I enjoy seeing the final product acted out on the programmes – seeing my creations come to life. And when you consider that my fictional organisations and characters have been used for the assessment and development of thousands of managers all over the world, it’s not a bad publication record, and certainly well rewarded.
All of this makes it exactly the type of work that John Braine advised against in his book on how to write a novel. I’m sure I’ve seen that advice from other authors – if you have to work then it should be something that doesn’t involve using words or being imaginative. Wait on tables, clear bins, hose fires: anything that is manually rather than intellectually stimulating.
I have to agree. After a day like today working on a management simulation role-play, I’m all written out. I know it’s no real excuse but I’m putting aside the novel for a while until I’ve finished this spate of exercises. For the meantime I’m engrossed in Marlon Dieter, a Senior Producer in my fictional news broadcasting organisation, who has his own ideas about how to run the business. Gripping stuff, sigh.