How I write: Oladipo Agboluaje

oladipoagboluaje-300x283Oladipo Agboluaje’s play New Nigerians is at the Arcola Theatre, London until 11 March. Among many other plays are Early MorningThe Christ of Coldharbour Lane, Immune, The Hounding of David Oluwale, For One Night Only and The Estate. Oladipo was born in London and educated in both the UK and Nigeria.

Where do you find inspiration?

I write satirically, so I riff off news stories and I observe people and situations.

How much do you use research?

I always start a project with research, however little it may be. Research gives me an inroad to the subject matter. I can riff off situations, create plotlines and visualise settings. I find it important to be able to ‘see’ the play in terms of the setting so I can walk through several scenarios with my semi-formed characters to see how they are influenced by their surroundings.

What time of day do you write?

I write at any time of day. I’m more of an inspiration than a perspiration writer. If the spirit doesn’t move me, no time of day is ideal.

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New Nigerians at the Arcola Theatre (photo by Alex Brenner)

Where is your favourite place to write?

When I can’t concentrate at home, the members’ bar of the Royal Festival Hall is where you’ll find me. Although I’m there less and less as they have instituted a laptop curfew after 5 pm.

Do you ever abandon a writing project?

All the time. Sometimes you can’t force an idea into a play. It might not be the right time for the project, or events have made the project outdated and you haven’t yet found how to make it relevant.

Do you procrastinate, and how do you combat it?

All the time. I have never won a battle with procrastination, even when I’ve had the nuclear threat of a deadline. I let procrastination win the battles, so long as I win the war.

What do you do when you feel stuck?

When I feel stuck I try not to force myself to write. I’m not a believer of putting down words for the sake of word count. I’ve never been able to write myself out of a rut. For me, that’s the sign that I need to step back and create thinking space. It also means that the story might not have the legs I initially thought it had.

How do you know when a play is finished?

A play is never finished. A draft may be finished, but a play is always incomplete. I don’t see that as a bad thing.

Read more of the How I write series.