Don’t write about writing, it’ll only trap you, says Mark Ravenhill.
Whenever a novel starts with the character of a writer sitting in a Hampstead kitchen, struggling to finish a novel, I throw the book straight in the bin. I recognise where that impulse to write about writing comes from. From time to time, I find myself thinking of ideas for plays about screenwriters working in Hollywood, or actors putting on a play. This terrifies me. There has been some great writing about writing, terrific films about films, brilliant television about television. There’s an inevitability about the fact that Ricky Gervais began by telling us stories about an ordinary workplace (The Office), and then, once he was massively successful, moved on to stories about showbusiness (Extras). But this seems to me something of a dead end. If it’s a struggle to stay connected to the world as you get older and more established, I think it’s worth it.