Couch to 80k Week 3 Day 5 – It’s getting emotional

Couch to 80k podcast is a writer’s bootcamp with daily exercises by Tim Clare and is part of his Death by 1000 paper cuts blog.

This week is all maskwork – wearing the mask of a character in order to channel their voice. This feels like the first really tough week for me. Call if my casual disregard for other humans, or undiagnosed ASD or just a general ignorance, but I’ve found it difficult.

Today’s in particular was hard, and, I think – as much as it’s possible in this – I failed.

Tim’s task today was to wear the emotional clothing of a character, someone different for yourself. So instantly my mind is groping around for emotional states I haven’t felt. Angry? Yes, been there. Sad? Yup, check. Happy? Oh Yeah, most of the time. Stupid? Often. Smart? I feel like I am, yes. Conceited? Frequently. Humble? Well, I wouldn’t like to say.

Maybe, as ever, I’m over thinking, and the task was about finding an emotional state that isn’t your default. But even that was tough, I think I’m a cheery happy go lucky sort, but I’m given to morbid thinking on mortality (as my free writes have all attested to). So, as I’m in the middle of – unsuccessfully – doing something with my studio, I thought “builder, who loves chaos”.

As well as wearing those emotions, the exercise was to look around and describe the room your in. And, since my room is chaos and I’m trying to think like someone who sees chaos and loves to bring order to it (don’t get me wrong: I love choas becoming order, but I’m rubbish at it and hate the doing of it, but I love order) so it just sort of turned into a list of things I need to do to the house.

I mean, I wrote it as though as I was happy-go-lucky builder seeing potential everywhere (instead of me sitting in a pile of rubble and thinking ‘I wish my wife were home-because she’s really good at this stuff and I’m not’

I think this explains my problem with dialogue and writing people – I think I struggle to inhabit other people. I think I can bash out a good fun plot, with things happening in it, but people leave me baffled. It’s a real weak spot.

What I’m really dreading though, is that Tim’s asked that we keep this character in mind for tomorrow, so we’ll be revisiting them, and frankly, I found this dude exhausting.

Here’s the snippet, it really is just a description of things I’d like to do to my own house, though.


I look around. And all I can see is potential. This room, this house, everything. The things I could do.

Maybe, I could knock a wall through. The whole house needs rewired, that would be a full day. I have all the tools. I should sit and do the electrics in one go. Add extra plugs, every where. All the shelving will have to come down. This crazy 70s inspired window in the hall, has to go. I could replace it with an LED light Panel, one on each side, wired in to the light switch, that’d be awesome. It would flood the back of the room with light AND the hall way.

Just need to pile these crates up here and move them out of the room then I could move the furniture out, have to hire a skip. The place smells musty, nothing better than the smell of fresh paint. I’ll need paint. Of course I will. Bright! Bold! Fresh colours, the entire room bathed in yellow, maybe with a contrasting colour on another wall. Drill bits at the ready and… no, need to gut the room first, clean it out, shift the boxes, until I can get a great little empty room. Why not just dump everything in a skip? Like seriously, does he read any of these books? Would he notice if I took the insides out of all of them and threw those bits in a skip leaving just the covers? I bet he wouldn’t. I mean who keeps books for 20 years then buys another copy and another and then, finally, when you think there’s no way to buy any more copies of this … BOOM! An oversized edition lands in – so preposterously large that it’s actually impossible to read.

I’ll make a start in this studio space. Wire in new plug sockets, two for each wall, maybe one flush to the floor? That would need drilled in to, but that’s no problem, just have to avoid any pipework – I have a machine here for checking. Electrics all flush in.

Once that’s done I can tackle that insane bathroom, it’s just… ugh. I’ll replace the bit of wood on the bath, make it more of a door than anything, yank out that incredibly stupid shower curtain and put in a lovely glass door. I’ll have to make it one that can close over though, there’s not much room in there. Ideally I’d turn this small studio into a bathroom and knock the kitchen right in to the bathroom, but client wants three rooms. Stupid client.

Next step that kitchen. So much potential in there, I’ll add glass windows to the balcony. Turn the balcony in to a sun room, even the ground up, fill in that bin hole, put some flooring down, add some electrics, wired into the mains. Washing machine, and dishwasher can go there. Kitchen for storage.

Now, what I could do to the client’s father’s house. Level up the backyard, get rid of the ‘potato patch’ he’s been growing (come on, grandad, wwii was over a long time ago!) build an extension – extend the back room and the upper bedroom, could be AMAZING.

Author: PJ

Belfast based Comic Artist who won’t shut up on twitter.