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Interview with Emily Cook

Tell me a bit about your creative writing practice?

I have two extremes; I either cover my office in notes and plans and everything I’ve ever written, or I get struck by an idea and find myself scribbling in the back of planners, on my phone, in a notebook I will inevitably lose and find again 6 months later. I try and write often, and taking courses like Tawnya’s have helped me focus my writing time. But I am all for 100 notebooks and keeping everything I write.

What inspired you to run this course?

I have attended many of Tawnya’s courses, and loved every one. When the opportunity came to run a course with Beyond Form, I leapt at it! I run adult drama classes on play and improvisation, and the opportunity to transfer that same work to a writing class was just too good to be true. A subject I’m passionate about, via a brilliant, new company? Perfection.

What does playing mean to you?

Playing is forgetting. Forgetting for a moment that I have rent to pay, and a kitchen to clean, a business to run. Playing is escape. I am so lucky that I get to play for a living, it’s a form of mindfulness for me. I am never more present than when I am leading a session, or playing tig with students, laughing at my year 11s, improvising with my adult classes, writing. Playing is escapism in its purest form. Learning to apply those techniques to my writing has improved both my writing and my enjoyment of it.

Can you describe yourself as an educator?

I believe as an educator I have a responsibility to educate myself, so I often attend other courses and I am always learning. I am extremely student centred; a class of any subject or style is only useful if it’s aimed at every individual in the room and adapted accordingly. I love teaching and leading and want my enjoyment and passion to pass on to the students in my class, I’m not taking myself too seriously. Most of all, I’m there for a good time. If I’m having fun, the students are having fun, and we are all benefitting from the session.

If you could offer one piece of advice to writers, what would it be?

Write. Often. Allow yourself to write terribly. You can’t run a marathon if you’re not warmed up, if you’ve not practiced. Writing is the same. It’s a muscle. Write lists, write poems that are horrifically self-indulgent. Write a diary. Write chapters of abandoned novels. Write about the dreams you can’t quite remember and fill in the gaps. It’s all practice runs, it’s working that muscle until you’re ready for a marathon, or you find that run you did last week was actually worth recording.

What are you currently reading?

My teenage self would be furious with me, but I always have a few books on the go at the same time now; lockdown has affected my concentration I think! I’ve just finished Dear Mrs Bird, by AJ Pearce. I love a bit of escapism and get loads from my local library as I can devour a book like this in just a few sittings.

My current non-fiction is Katherine Ryan’s The Audacity. I love Katherine, and this book is so easy to pick up and dip in and out of, and laugh out loud funny. This lives in the living room so if I feel myself reaching for my phone, I can open this instead!

My ‘book that lives next to my laptop so when I’m losing concentration or struggling to get inspired I can pick it up’ is Kae Tempest’s On Connection. Just lovely, reaffirming book on connectivity and creativity.

You can register for Emily's upcoming workshop here.

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