Why playwright Mark Ravenhill has made an important contribution to future collective stories - Nick Ahad

Arts View.

Picture: Simon Hulme.
Picture: Simon Hulme.

Earlier this year I took on another job title when I became a guest lecturer at York University.

Teaching on the MA in playwriting, it would have been an opportunity to positively influence enquiring minds.

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One small contribution I hope I did make to humanity was when I shared with the cohort my ‘Ten Rules of Writing’. Rule Number Ten is my slightly profane take on the Google motto ‘Don’t be Evil’. Part of being a writer is working in a team and people want to work with good people.

Don’t be Evil. It’s simple, isn’t it?

I was thinking about my ‘rules’ earlier this week when playwright Mark Ravenhill started tweeting writing advice. If you have any interest in any sort of creative writing, I’d highly recommend seeking out the tips he’s sharing.

The response to his advice has been one of enormous gratitude and thanks, so much so that Ravenhill has formalised the tweets and has decided to share his 101 rules. You can follow them with the hashtag #MarkRavenhill101 and I suggest you do.

Ravenhill himself admitted being a little overwhelmed by the response.

He said: “I’m surprised that so many people are surprised that I’m ‘giving away’ my experience for ‘free’. Growing up in the UK in the 1970s/80s my entire education to graduation was free!

It’s in my bones – knowledge is not a commodity and that we share it out. Another world is possible!”

Indeed. It might seem like anathema when a price is placed upon knowledge so easily these days, but as Ravenhill says, giving and sharing knowledge for free shouldn’t be such a strange notion. Isn’t sharing knowledge a step on the path towards democratisation?

The more people who discover Ravenhill’s rules and think to themselves ‘maybe I can use these to tell my story’, the more stories we all get to discover.

For too long the stories we hear and the people who are allowed to tell them have been controlled by access, and privilege has for too long equalled access.

By opening the door and demystifying the process, Ravenhill is making an important contribution to the future collective stories we all get to share.

It is in that spirit then that I offer just one of my own rules: I refer you back to the not being evil commandment. Although to be honest that one’s able to be applied pretty universally, certainly beyond the realm of professional writing.