By Poppy Cumming-Spain
Yesterday Marc punished me. On Wednesday one SCAB turned into three, but I didn’t write them quick enough. So three SCABs turned into one a day for the rest of the school year. That’s at least sixty SCABs. At least thirty thousand words. That’s a lot. A lot of SCABs, a lot of words and a lot of fresh ideas to come up with.
When he announced this punishment, I felt a pang of anxiety in my chest. It sounded like a huge task, one that I’d struggle to complete. I could see myself letting him down already. But, yesterday I wrote three SCABs. A thousand, eight hundred and six hundred words each. They were all completely different. And they were ok. At least one of them might be quite interesting (I hope).
In any case, I walked down the spiral staircase from Marc’s office filled with dread and spent most of the morning in naughty schoolgirl mode. Quiet and ashamed, I tapped away at my laptop churning out the SCABs I had planned to write that day. For some reason, I’d lost any sense of urgency before that point. Another lesson learned. This was the most in trouble I’ve been in during my education, at the age of twenty-five. Pretty embarrassing to be honest. Other students asked what was going on and I told them my punishment. Their faces displayed various levels of bemusement and astonishment (lots of open mouths). One suggested that everyone could chip in to help me, and I said that wouldn’t be necessary or right. And, in all fairness, everyone struggles to churn out their one a week, so the chances of them suddenly managing to do more to help me seems relatively unlikely; apologies for my cynicism.
As I was writing the three SCABs yesterday, I remembered something. Opportunity is now here. I’m a writer, at least I’m supposed to be. Recently, mentors have told me I can do better. I’ve nodded nervously and wondered how. I’m trying really hard. I want to be better. But I don’t know how. I want to be the best. I feel embarrassed even typing it, but I want to be a Tony Brignull or a David Abbott. I want to be great. I don’t think I can be, but I hope I will. And I’ll try anyway because that’s what SCA has taught me to do. It hasn’t stripped me of my self-doubt, but that’s ok. SCA has taught me that self-doubt is part of being a creative, and I’m just about comfortable with calling myself a creative. A little self-doubt pushes us to do better, to continually question and critique our work. ‘Never be happy’ is a phrase that has come out of Pete’s mouth many times. It depresses a lot of people, but it makes sense to me. How else would you spur yourself on?
I’ve got at least thirty thousand words to write in less than two months, not including any of the ads, scripts and passion projects we’ll create. That’s a challenge, true. That’s a lot of words. But, more importantly, that’s a lot of practice. Practice, practice, practice. Practice makes perfect, right? Fingers crossed. Another mentor, I think Vikki, said that quantity leads to quality. And I like to think that’s true. That’s why I churn out hundreds of bad lines searching for the right one. Quantity definitely isn’t quality, but the more bad stuff you get out, the more space you’re leaving for good or even great to happen.
So, I’m actually excited about this punishment. Sorry if that defeats the object, Marc. I’m going to write a SCAB every day for the rest of the school year. I’m going to generate new, and hopefully interesting, ideas to write about every day. I’m going to write new words every day. Opportunity is now always here. And quantity leads to quality, right? I should come out the other side a better writer, a better partner and a better prospect to hire. So, thank you, Marc. You’ve forced me into quantity, and that could lead to quality.
Challenge excitedly accepted.