Welcome new Writers’ Program instructor Annie Gilbertson! Annie is teaching a one day course, Sound to Scene: Narrative Writing for Podcasts (Reg# 367018) this May, and sat down with us to offer some insight into creative life and her upcoming course.
What sparks your creativity?
I’m a nut for podcasts, publications and events in which writers talk about their craft and how they get it done. I once trained for my first (and last) half marathon with another public radio journalist and instead of listening to workout music to keep me moving, I went through the archives of the Longform Podcast. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to teach; to foster an environment where we could unlock the inner workings of form and experiment.
What do you rely on for those times it’s difficult to find the time, energy, motivation and/or inspiration to write?
Morning pages. I know so many writers who swear by them. I don’t beat myself up if I skip a day, but the stream of consciousness and low-stakes writing dump can really help jog creativity. First drafts can start this way, too. Dump what you have on page and see what happens. Inevitably connections and possibilities reveal themselves.
What’s your favorite quote about writing?
Ira glass has a wonderful video series in which he talks about closing the gap between your ability and your ambitions. You’ve got to do the work. When you start writing, you just aren’t going to be very good. I wasn’t. You’ve got to keep going anyway. I’ve been writing for radio for about a decade, and I’m still trying to close the gap between my ability and ambition. Somehow the finish line keeps moving. I think I’d be bored if it didn’t.
What excites you most about teaching for the Writers’ Program?
I started as a student in the Writers’ Program. I was working through my first podcast and felt the need to cross pollinate with another genre to charge my batteries. It worked. I found the basics of characterization, scene writing and structuring plot cut across mediums. There are a lot of places to teach and write in L.A., but I don’t think people should have to go into crippling debt to learn. I chose the Writers’ Program, because it pairs high quality with affordability.
What do you hope your students get from your course?
I hope my students get the nuts and bolts of audio storytelling so they can continue to explore its possibilities. If they’re already working professionally, I hope they find the freedom to expand their craft and take creative risks. Narrative audio is a genre that does not require an entire crew nor a willing publisher (though both are great to have!). Plenty of pros have started at their kitchen table.
Thank you to Annie for taking time to share with us. Look for more instructor interviews coming soon!