Creative Ways Of Writing
Posted by Ruth Graham
in Blog

Focusing on The Washing Line Method to unlock creativity …….


I make no apologies for looking at just one way of writing in this blog, as it’s been so massively helpful to me.

I found this as part of my research– and have used it ever since. It’s very simply called the washing line method. It was used by the team that wrote the Olympic Opening Ceremony a couple of years back, and I stumbled the details via a video by Frank Cottrell Boyce, one of the writers.

He was very open in admitting that he, and the team he was working with, had never written an opening ceremony before. They were literally faced with something totally new, and it was scary. That, plus the fact all he and his colleagues knew was that it had to feature the British athletes, and the Queen. So, as a starting point, they strung up a bit of washing line, and pinned up pictures of everyone along it (in no particular order), then sat back and said, “now what?”

Someone had an idea (starting with my favourite phrase – ‘what would happen if’?)… and before they knew it, the line was filling up with Post-it notes of ideas. What if we include history? Public figures? Sports? Comedy? How about putting in Gladstone and Disraeli. What about British icons? And comedy figures people would know – Mr Bean, for example. And what would happen if the Queen came down a ladder from a helicopter?…. And the Spice girls appeared in a mini car?

On it went – initially unconnected ideas… until the line was full. And then it was time to link it all together. The washing line allowed them to peg and unpeg the notes with ease, helping to create the flow they needed.

I now use this for my projects that require some element of timeline planning within them. It’s brilliant and simple. And most importantly, it lifts everything off the page, and puts it in front of you. It turns your thoughts into 3D – which invaluable as far as I’m concerned.

I’m currently working on a musical that has moved along faster in 2 months than it had done in several years – all because of this method. I look at the line, read the scenes out loud, visualise what’s happening. And if it doesn’t ‘feel’ right, I simply peg the scene of the character somewhere else. It’s just then a matter of writing the connecting material to enable them to ‘get’ to where you want them to be.

Give it a go. The 99p shop sells washing lines , pegs and Post-its. It’s the most brilliant way of discovering new creative ways of writing. And for £2.97 you could be on your way to making your first million!