This week, I had the great pleasure of lecturing the final year journalism students back at my old stomping ground, Bournemouth University
. It’s always an excellent ego-boost to talk about your own career. It sounds so much better on a Powerpoint.
But standing in front of those young, keen, astonishingly well-coiffed hopefuls, I finished my talk with a quote from P J O’Rourke
, who speaks more sense than I could ever hope to.
‘I like to think of my behaviour in the sixties as a "learning experience”,’ he says. ‘Then again, I like to think of anything stupid I've done as a "learning experience”. It makes me feel less stupid.’
Stupidity is a vastly underrated creative force. Without it, creativity wouldn’t exist. Creative writing, for instance, is an entirely stupid act. You spend your days making up imaginary people who do imaginary things to other imaginary people. Under other circumstances, this would require medication.
In the day job, I interview a lot of creatives – actors, writers, entrepreneurs – people who have made a career the risky way. I always ask them how they started and in every case, it started with a stupid decision. Granted, the reason I’m interviewing them because that stupid decision turned out to be right, but rarely was it the first stupid decision that turned their tide. They had to be stupid for a long time before it worked out.
As with all writers, I’ve had crossroads in my own career where the sensible vs stupid decisions have gone head-to-head. Stupid has always won and I’ve not regretted it yet. That’s not to say it’s always worked out first time, or at all.
But at the very worst I’ve learned from it. At the very best I’ve had some amazing experiences. Always, always, I’ve walked away with a bloody good story. And what more do writers need?
In Batman: The Dark Knight Rises,
Bruce Wayne finds himself trapped in a subterranean prison. Spurred on by the legend of the one person who ever escaped, he endeavours to make the giant leap to freedom across an impossible chasm, where falling would mean certain death.
He attaches himself to a rope and has two failed attempts to make the jump, each time ending up dangling like a duck on the end of a fairground fishing rod. He eventually finds the secret of the successful jump – there was no rope. Faced with no alternative but to get it right, he makes the leap – and Christ knows how many more sequels.
This is often the dilemma that we stupid creatives find ourselves in. With the security of whatever our rope might be, we have the option to fail. Take it away and we have no choice but to succeed.
This is not to oversimplify the universe – of course it’s not always possible to chuck in the job that’s taking up our time, or the mortgage that our family live under.
But we always have the choice to throw away the safety net in our heads – the one that says “it doesn’t matter if this doesn’t work out – being a chartered surveyor is just swell”. If that’s not what you want to do, it matters. Don’t give yourself that rope – you might just hang yourself on it.
Last year, an Australian palliative nurse called Bronnie Ware wrote about her experiences of working with people who were dying. Based on their conversations, she wrote The Top Five Regrets
, a book detailing the most common regrets of those at life’s back door.
According to her, the five most common regrets were:
· I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
· I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
· I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
· I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
· I wish that I had let myself be happier.
By my maths, 80% of those translate as “Did the sensible thing. Shouldn’t have”.
There will be many things I’ll regret when I meet my maker. Any time I wore animal print. My hair throughout the nineties. A whole week in a Mediterranean holiday resort that’s best left unspoken.
But I’ll know I always did the stupid thing. As Forrest says, “Stupid is as stupid does”. And I sure as hell will be. You should be too.
It’s been one of those weeks where I feel I’ve lived a lifetime in seven days. As I gather my thoughts and rinse out my liver, I think back to this time last week, when I was just heading off for my first day at LSF, the fantastic pitching session by Pilar Alessandra. How can that only be a week? My life has changed. My mind has grown. My overdraft facility is screwed.
But as anyone who has been to this fantastic celebration of screenwriting will know, that’s the LSF. This year was my second tour of duty and I have already signed up for the third. No restraining order can hold me.
So here’s what I took from LSF 2013. It might be useful. It might not. But it happened – I hope it did for you too.
1) Trust Yourself
One of the fantastic things about hearing the advice of so many experts at LSF is the scrutiny they make you bring to your own script. The downside – you can mess with a winning formula.
I was lucky enough to take part in Philip Shelley’s TV Drama script lab with six brilliant writers. As we went through our projects, it became clear that at some point, all of us had moved away from our original idea because someone else got in our head. And in every instance, that was the wrong thing to do.
Improve your work in every way you can. But don’t change what it was that made you write it. Remember that spark that kept you awake, made you resent anything that wasn’t writing it and convinced you that the BAFTA was in the bag. Scripts are like partners – loads of hard work and you’ll go right off them at times, but there was a reason you got together in the first place. Stick with that.
After Pilar’s session, I met some writerly reprobates at The Globe. Unbeknownst to me (I hadn’t really figured the network out, I’m a bit like my gran with the remote control) it was also the venue for the Noobies meet-up. It was fascinating watching this complete bunch of strangers meet in 3D for the first time – they already had a shorthand, they had a commonality, they had in-jokes.
Without wanting to get all Love Actually about it, if you need to warm your cockles, watch two people who have already developed a friendship online meet for the first time. “So you’re [insert name and flash lanyard. Hug]!!!” It beats the cheap Sauvignon for a buzz every time. I had just such moments with the fabulous Chris Jones, Lucy V Hay, Hayley McKenzie and many others – people I’ve connected with in other ways finally in a hug. And that feels goooood.
But even if you are like me (and my Gran), just bowl on up and talk to people. London switches off for a few days at LSF. For 72 glorious hours, it’s okay to be in Zone 1 and smile at strangers. I met some amazing, fabulous punters this year, purely by striking up a chat. Have a go – you’ll start some amazing stories. It’s like a holiday romance. With far less chance of antibiotics later.
3) Be Generous
If I have a life philosophy, it is this. Okay, it has to beat off pretty stiff competition from “Go on, just one more”, but I think generosity is the most important quality we lucky mammals can embrace. We can all be generous most of the time. And we should.
I split my professional time between journalism and creative writing. The former career is rather more established than the latter, and as such, I’m in a position where I can often help some of the bright, shiny, sweet-smelling new writers I meet when I give lectures. Do I do it for their thanks? No. Do I always receive their thanks? No (although rarely). I do it because to my mind, it balances the karmic spreadsheet for when I was starting out, God was a child and I needed someone to give me the kick-step to the ladder. And now I do again.
Whatever our professional standing, as writers we can always be generous to one another. We can read a script and give advice. We can administer a reality check if it helps. We can invite that person hovering on the edge of our group, or eating lunch alone two spaces down into our conversation. These tiny generosities might give someone a leg-up their mountain. And I believe it comes back to you. And if I’m wrong, just celebrate every day you’re not a dickhead.
4) Make this your deadline
When I came to LSF last year, I was in a strange place professionally. Not the Refectory, I had really lost my way with my writing and was hiding out in academia – indeed, I only came to the festival to research my PhD. I’d given up on being a scriptwriter – any sort of writer – and was struggling to find my way along the wrong track.
But after three days of LSF, I promised myself three things: 1) That I would come back the following year 2) That I would be there as a writer 3) That I wouldn’t drink so much.
Two out of three ain’t bad.
In those intervening 12 months, I left my job as a lecturer and knuckled down to some writing. My latest spec has won me a masterclass with John Yorke, got me under the nose of the development exec at EastEnders, shortlisted me for the ScriptAngel comp, got me picked for Philip’s scriptlab and secured me a dozen meetings with production companies.
I don’t say this to wedge my head up my own backside, but in one year, I’ve come off the bricks and I’m back on the road.
So come on then? What will you have done by next year’s LSF?
Now go do it.
Oh, have we got a treat this week. Ladies and Gentlemen, if you haven't already experienced the one-woman writing wunderkind that is Lucy V Hay... well, now you can.
A script editor, novelist and blogger, Lucy V has helped legions of writers via her Bang2write consultancy
. She is one of the leading lights behind the brilliant London Screenwriters Festival
(where I hope to see you between 25 - 27th October) and is also author of WRITING AND SELLING THRILLER SCREENPLAYS
(Creative Essentials). And if you ever need some virtuous distraction, just follow her @Bang2Write
But more than all of these things, she's a force for good in the writing world and is a huge champion of writers and writing. An inspiring individual, she is outspoken, outrageous and outstanding. It is with enormous pleasure - and no small amount of fear - I proudly present, Ms Lucy V Hay.
Tell me a bit about your own background as a writer/editor/all-round script guru?
It’s weird. I never set out originally to be a script editor, or a blogger, or really anything to do with screenwriting or social media! Yet those are the things I’m best known for. I kind of fell into all of them. I just believe in the power of saying “yes” wherever possible, seeing where it takes you.
I love writing – anything – and I love facilitating writing. I want to demystify the spec pile and the writing process as much as possible and help give writers the tools to get their work written and out there. That’s my passion. My Bang2writers are fabulous and I feel privileged to have so many allies.
I always wanted to be a novelist and I was so proud to see my first novel published this year, even if it was in German and I couldn’t read it, haha! And it was fab to see my screenwriting book published. 2013 has been a fab year (even more so after a horrendous 2012), so I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings. What sets those who make it apart?
Strategy and positivity. Strategy because you need goals. Too many writers sabotage themselves and don’t move forward with their careers, because they don’t have a proper plan of attack, which they can review and adjust accordingly.Throwing spaghetti at a wall randomly may result in a sale accidentally, sure, but it’s unlikely.
Positivity because the writer’s life is hard and filled with rejection. Non writers don’t always get it and think of writers as being selfish sometimes, plus being told “No” over and over can be mentally exhausting. So it’s really important writers can be positive and say to themselves, “Why WOULDN’T I make it?” rather than, “I’m never going to make it.” Can writers ever objectively edit their own work?
Of course. But it takes discipline. You have to be willing to challenge yourself, in more ways than one. You need to appreciate your first idea is rarely your best, BUT you can’t swing to the other end of the scale and throw the baby out with the bathwater. Understanding what editing is and isn’t then is key; it’s not just about moving stuff and tweaking stuff until your eyes bleed! You can find out more about rewriting and being a better writer in the B2W Writer School bundle: http://bitly.com/bundles/o_4h0h9gl8st/3 Set the record straight once and for all – do you need an agent?
No. An agent is preferable, sure – and I love mine, he’s a great guy who works hard for me and he’s fab to have in my corner. But the average writer does not need one when they first start out: they should be concentrating on collaborating, making contacts, getting stuff written AND made. If you do all this right? The agent will come to YOU. How important is an online presence and what should writers do and not do on t’net?
Absolutely. Writers can create whole careers on the web; it’s what I did as a poor single Mum living in the middle of nowhere. But because there are so few barriers, the internet can seem a little like the Wicky-Wild-Wild-West and there are SO many super-clangers you can drop. That’s why I write a lot on B2W about social media and blogging, to help demystify that as well.
My two most popular posts on the subject are Congratulations! You Just Totally Shot Yourself In The Foot http://bit.ly/QI4IMW
and 10 Reasons Your Blog Sucks http://bit.ly/12fgBlL
. The best advice anyone ever gave you as a writer? “Ignore all advice … except for the good stuff. You’ll know it when you hear it.”
Works for life, too! What I love about it is puts the emphasis on YOU to work out what is best for you. What more can you want? Top three things every writer should be doing
Very often writers think they’re doing good work by spending aeons on their computer, reformatting and ripping out scenes and rewriting them, then printing them out and taking the red pen to them. But a lot of this is a distraction.
Good writers know the whole world is made up of a myriad of stories, so we must challenge ourselves to see as many different POVs as possible, even those we abhor. We must also accept our own shortcomings and attempt to see why others may feel resentment for our privileges or beliefs. We can do this by:Reading.
Screenplays is obvious; writers never read enough of them! But also, social commentary, blogs, articles, magazines, novels, non fiction, historical records, gravestones – basically, everything!! Nothing is out of bounds. Thinking.
Reflection is a key part of the writer’s arsenal, yet many writers have such rushed lives, day jobs etc, they don’t allow thoughts to “settle” in their minds before they’re rewriting their work or firing off an ill-advised tweet or Facebook rant about the industry. What’s more, we cannot write authentic characters without really putting ourselves in their shoes – and that does not mean figuring out what they had for breakfast or what school they went to. It takes time. Living!
If you read a lot of spec screenplays, you soon develop a “nose” for those writers who have lived experiences versus the ones who do not. The latter type piece together media imagery and prose they’ve consumed themselves, so their work feels like a mish-mash of stories that have already been told, or it has a naivety to it. The former will breathe life into their stories that is unique to them, giving it a beating heart. Guess which ones have the most chance in the marketplace? What are the top three things every writer should not be doing ?Writing too much.
Writing really shouldn’t be too hard. Sure, everyone has times they wrestle with their stories and you’d be bizarre if you didn’t. That’s normal. But if you’re spending every single day consumed by the actual writing (and probably not doing any of the 3 things I listed in the previous section), there’s a strong chance you’re going wrong somewhere and it will show in your work. Your brain needs to “breathe”. Rewriting and re-submitting endlessly.
I spend a lot of time writing and reviewing submissions, especially for contests and initiatives and it always surprises me to see the SAME titles by the SAME writers, submitted over and over. Every project should have a shelf life and should be built into your personal strategy. You cannot move forwards in your career if you do not let the dead work go. Only you can know when that is, but ultimately you should be producing new work every single year and adding to your portfolio and contacts wherever possible. Being a pain in the ass!
Hassling people when following up on leads; making accusations or casting aspersions; being “controversial” by writing racist or sexist tropes; ranting on social media; being strange and overly familiar; not taking constructive criticism well … the list is endless! But equally, you must be truthful and honest as well. To borrow from Joss Whedon, “Remember to always be yourself … Unless you suck.”
Ask any scriptwriter to name five others and you can bet your final draft that one of them will be Jed Mercurio.
Currently building new mantelpieces for the plaudits he has garnered for Line of Duty, Jed has also penned acclaimed medical dramas Cardiac Arrest and Bodies, as well as kitsch comedy The Grimleys. Jed has written three adult and one children’s novel and when he puts his pen down for a spell, he soon picks up a camera to direct and produce. And he’s a qualified doctor. And he can fly a plane.
A rare example of a critically and commercially successful TV writer, Jed is also very supportive of new writing – so we caught up over a cuppa to chew the creative cud.
You took an unusual route into scriptwriting via the RAF and the NHS – do tell…
I originally trained as a doctor and I was sponsored by the RAF in the latter part of my medical training, so I ended up doing flying training as part of that. I was going to do aviation medicine, but the Cold War ended and that particular programme finished. I was faced with being in the RAF as a doctor, which I didn’t fancy. So I went straight into the NHS, which is when I started writing. I got to a point where my chosen career wasn’t open to me and I was thinking about what I was actually going to do with my life and writing came along. It was a happy coincidence.
How did your first writing gig come about?
There was an advert in the British Medical Journal and it was so vague, it seemed like an opportunity for doctors to get involved as advisors. I really had no idea. I had a meeting and still it wasn’t clear, but I suppose at the meeting I was pitching my point of view of what hospital life was like as a junior hospital doctor right at the bottom of the chain of the hierarchy, and I suppose it was quite a cynical, frustrated view. They then came back to me and asked if there was a way to make that into a series – and that became Cardiac Arrest.
Just what the doctor ordered. There’s a whole lot of cops ‘n’ docs dramas out there. What can a writer do to stand out from the herd?
A lot of TV is set in the same precincts, so anyone who is trying to make or commission a show is looking for a new angle. Point of view is one of the things you can use to try to declare that your show has something others don’t have. You can tell a story that is set in a medical or police genre and can tell it from the viewpoint of someone who isn’t a leading character in those environments. Or you can take a more general POV, so you’re doing something that’s more jaundiced or darker or lighter. That general take should inform the kinds of stories you’re writing, the kind of characters you’re creating. Take shows like New Tricks or By Any Means – they take a different view, they don’t have regular coppers doing regular things.
You write scripts and novels (show-off) – are they different writing processes?
I think it’s the same start of the process, the idea that you think is a story. The next stage is what’s the best way of telling it. If something feels like it’s very internalised or takes place over a long period of time, or takes place over lots of locations, or it would just be stupendously expensive to film, then it’s probably a book. It just depends what mood I’m in.
There have been periods in my career where I haven’t had a choice, things weren’t being made. Probably the toughest period was after Bodies finished and I wanted to do something else very quickly. But everything I wanted to do got put back, there were things that got made that shouldn’t have – and so I spent a period of five years trying to get a new TV series on the air and at that time I was doing books as well. Now I’m glad to be back doing TV, but I look forward to the books again. I loved working alone, being in charge of that whole world, not having to send it off and get feedback. It’s nice to think I’ll jump between the two.
What do you think the landscape is like for new writers?
It depends who you talk to. There are some people who are very down about it, but when you listen to them, they are pigeon-holing an area of TV and saying that’s what new writers should be aiming at. And I don’t really agree with that. I reject the idea that the only slots that are open to new writers are the ones on continuing dramas. I think that you can still, from nothing, create a brand-new piece of TV that can get made. It’s about writing a script, from the proposal to a project and taking it to indie producers or open-minded people at the broadcasters.
If people have a series of experiences that make them think the world is closed to new writers then I think that’s because they’ve had the misfortune that the people they’ve been in touch with are closed to new writers. I have heard from colleagues at production companies about projects that they’ve really believed in that commissioners have said ‘no’ to just because there’s new writer on board. But that’s not everybody. It’s very easy for me to find people to say no. There are people who won’t return my calls or take a meeting because they’re jerks.
Be persistent, but take advice – who are the commissioners and producers who are open to new writing? Some people aren’t that into TV, they just want to advance their careers.
What should new writers be doing to get themselves under the right noses?
The first thing is actually to write. Because there’s no point just talking about it and then not delivering. It’s so frustrating when someone appears who says they want to write and they want to show you something and then it never materialises.
The next thing is to be part of the industry – get in touch with people, have meetings – it’s part of your job. Get in touch with the development people at leading indies. If you’re a comedy person, identify which are the indies that are making the comedies and go after them. The same with drama.
Diversify. Don’t just have one project that you hawk around, tinker with and send out again. Have several things on the go at once. It may be that the next thing you write is the one that will break open the industry to you. It may not be the first thing that gets made, but it might just spark interest for someone.
And what will turn people right off?
I think you have to remember that it’s a pretty wide industry and what appeals to one contact isn’t going to appeal to another. The most important thing is enthusiasm. If you come across as being a bit of a dabbler and a bit of a dilettante, then you don’t sound like you’re really going to push something through to the finish line. But it’s a hard line because you don’t want to come across as too intense and have someone worry you’re going to stalk them.
It’s a hard one, because it’s about your own personality. If you’re an affable, sensible, good-humoured, physically attractive, sweet-smelling person then you have all the advantages you would have in any other career. And if you have none of those things, or not enough of those things, you have all the disadvantages you would have in any other career. But that’s the way the world works.
Fantastic advice. Now let’s go for a spin in a plane. Jed? Jed…?
There can be few more annoying writers than John O’Farrell. I speak not of his output, which is quite brilliant – May Contain Nuts
should be required reading for any parent living in a nest of middle-class neurosis – but the sheer breadth and scope of his writing career. There is not a corner of the writing world that John hasn’t explored and conquered and if he weren’t such a lovely bloke, I’d have to smack him about the face with a stale halibut.
In the course of his professional life, John has been a radio comedy sketch writer for Week Ending
, which led to him becoming one of the lead writers on Spitting Image.
He worked as a screenwriter on Chicken Run
with writing partner Mark Burton
, with whom he penned the BBC sitcom, The Peter Principle
. John has written for and appeared on Have I Got News For You, Grumpy Old Men, Alas Smith and Jones and Room 101
and in between times, he is a columnist, satirist, panellist, humourist – and in my experience, often slightly p***ed.
But it is as a novelist that John has really found success (and extended his kitchen) and his bestsellers include The Best a Man Can Get
, This is Your Life
, May Contain Nuts
and The Man Who Forgot his Wife
. He has written several non-fiction works, including his political memoir Things Can Only Get Better
and earlier this year was put in charge of losing Labour the by-election in Eastleigh, a duty that he performed with his customary aplomb.
When he’s not putting his own pen to paper, John is hugely supportive of new writers and to this end, established NewsBiscuit.com
, an open submissions satirical website that encourages any crazy loon who thinks they’re funny to post their half-baked ideas online. That’s how we met.
I asked John for his advice for new writers. And for a tenner – he’s obviously doing okay. Hello John.
Hello Mary. Brilliant. How did you get started as a writer?
I always knew I wanted to work in comedy, but didn’t think I’d ever be allowed. When I moved to London at 22, I heard about Week Ending
, which was the training ground for wannabe comedy writers on Radio 4. It was open access, anyone could roll up – usually with a polythene bag, several days’ stubble and a drink problem – and this programme performed a public service by training up the future comedy writers in Britain and stopping middle-class parents worrying that their kids weren’t achieving anything after university. And from there I saw a route for myself and what I wanted to do. And then by 27, I was one of the lead writers on Spitting Image
. You bastard. Sorry…carry on.
Then I got some bits and bobs on TV, did some monologues, wrote for some stand-ups like Jack Dee and Arthur Smith. All this time, Mark and I were trying to get a sitcom pilot together, which was always the goal. Finally we wrote The Peter Principle
and it had a great slot, a great star and… it bombed. Thank God for that, he’s human. When did you start writing novels?
My first book was Things Can Only Get Better
, which was a bestseller in 1997. So I wrote my first novel, The Best A Man Can Get
, which sold and sold and sold and allowed me to extend my kitchen. And now I’ve written four novels, a few history books, I’m working on the new Aardman film and I realise I’ve been sitting at a desk not talking to anyone for 12 years. So that’s why you’re here… Do you have a favourite writing outlet?
Nothing seems to engage an audience like a book. The personal response you get when you write a book is great. Writing a novel is really hard, but it’s such a satisfying experience when you’ve done it. Millions of people see your work on TV, but no-one really remembers who wrote it. With a book, you really connect with people. But you’re so on your own as a novelist you never know if you’re doing it right. It’s hard. Tell me about NewsBiscuit.com. Even though I already know all about it.
It was a response to the observation that it seems very hard for new writers today to find somewhere to try their stuff out. I felt that an online submission process and supportive chat room would encourage people from around the world and stop that aggressive male environment where any woman is shouted down in about 0.3 seconds. Have you found any stunning new writing talent? Would you say? To me?
Well the main discovery has been this really brilliant woman… her name escapes me… But a handful of really professional standard writers have come through there, which is really gratifying and confirmed my belief that there is loads of new talent out there, it just needs the right outlet. So how do we all become disgustingly successful writers?
There is no substitute for physically putting your script in someone’s hands. I never got anything from posting something in. It’s all been about getting out there, making those connections – the personal touch is still very important. Living in the Outer Hebrides and emailing stuff in may not be enough, tragically. I’m sure it’s changing all the time, but in my pre-internet experience, face-to-face contact is important. What do you make of new advances for writers, such as self-publishing?
I believe talent will out. People who come out with original and outstanding stuff will get noticed. But you’ve got to be good. If you’re going to self-publish, you’ve got to be really good at marketing yourself, which I’ve always been rubbish at. Talent will out – but it might need a bit of help getting noticed. What is your writing process once you’ve had an idea?
I think about story. And I think about structure. It’s like a really complex mathematical equation. How do we get the ending the audience want but not in the way they’re expecting? So I spend a lot of time with a big sheet of paper, writing different possibilities. I want each chapter to have a hook, I want the characters to be the story.
Without sounding too prattish, it’s a journey of discovery as well. Some people say that they just let their characters run away and do what they want… and I want to kick them in an alleyway. If your characters start to run away, you need to hit them around the back of the head and tell them to get back in line and behave themselves. Remind me not to star in your next novel…
Having worked as a screenwriter in America I think the rigour that is applied to screenplays is a really good thing. The fact that you have ten people saying, “I don’t know why a character would do this,” is the sort of question a writer should be asking themselves all the time. I give my work to a lot of people to read and I take their criticism. I might not agree with all of it, but if a few people say the same thing, they’re probably right.
It’s important to take criticism. Although when a critic slates my novel, I want to do them physical harm. Any writer who says they don’t is a liar. It’s like having your youngest child reviewed in the paper, saying, “Young Jemimah Evans is something of a creepy, ugly little child who should never have been born”. You’ve met my kids. What are your top three bits of advice for new writers?
1) Always be writing. You’ve got to write all the time and give yourself as many opportunities as possible.
2) Keep lots of irons in the fire. When I was starting out, I’d write a story, send it to a publisher, wait three months for a rejection, send it off again… and you get nowhere. Keep getting things out there.
3) Be prepared to show it to other people and accept constructive criticism. My dad was offered his first publishing deal aged 75, but lost it when he insisted that he wouldn’t change a comma!And the top three ‘don’ts’?
1) Don’t get halfway through your novel, realise something’s got to change and then go back to Chapter One and change everything you’ve written. Wait until the end of your first draft – you’re going to have to make changes anyway, so that man can become a woman then. So many people write and re-write the first chapter and run out of steam.
2) Don’t set your ambitions too high to start with. Don’t write a script with 150 people in it – if a director has £150million to spend, they’re not going to use an untried writer. Write a play for four people, write a short story, write for NewsBiscuit
– give yourself a chance.
3) Don’t invest all your hopes into one idea. If you’re any good, you’ll have lots more ideas. And don’t be paranoid about your stuff being stolen. Sometimes brains do land in the same place and similar ideas get made, but in my experience, people do want to find new talent.
That said, I do worry about me going to all this trouble to encourage new writers and them getting my work…
So actually, ignore all the above advice, write in very small handwriting on a post-it note and send it to the publishers of Engineering Weekly
. Thanks John, you’re a star. Now about that tenner…
Okay, so like Ugg boots, social media and awareness of my pregnancies, I'm a little late.
But as I gently ease myself into the 21st century, I will be blogging my thoughts on writing, TV, life, love the universe and tummy-holding-in knickers here.
More soon. Sorry about that..