How I Write: Alistair Beaton

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Alistair Beaton

To inspire and encourage you we’re asking top playwrights about their writing habits.

Alistair Beaton is a political satirist whose work spans theatre, television, radio and publishing. His stage plays include Fracked!Feelgood, Caledonia, King of Hearts, The Nose and Follow My Leader. His short play The Accidental Leader was part of Out of Joint’s satirical compendium A View from Islington Northread it for free here!

He speaks French, German and Russian and has translated plays by Nikolai Gogol, Bertolt Brecht, and Max Frisch, as well as two operettas: Die Fledermaus and La Vie Parisienne. Television writing includes the satirical films A Very Social Secretary and The Trial of Tony Blair. He is the author of several humour books, and the novel A Planet for the President. He lives in London.

What time of day do you write?

Morning is always best, with early starts wherever possible. But when the deadline looms, that becomes any time of the day or night.

Do you remember the first time someone described you as “a writer”

No, but I remember hearing my name on the radio for the first time, following a sketch I had written, and was stunned with what felt like sudden fame.

Where do you find inspiration?

Politics and people.

Do you ever abandon a writing project?

Very very rarely. But there always comes a moment when you WANT to abandon a writing project.

Where is your favourite place to write?

At my desk

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Anne Reid in Fracked! at Chichester Festival Theatre 2016. Photo by Catherine Ashmore.

Do you procrastinate, and how do you combat it?

Procrastination has been made much easier by the internet and social media. You just have to stop kidding yourself that you really really need to check your email yet again.

What do you do when you feel stuck?

Keep on writing, even if it’s crap. You can always throw it away later.

How do you know when a play is finished?

It never really is. I sit there at the first night noticing the little things I should have improved.


Read more of the How I write series.