Wednesday, April 19, 2017


Following on from my post two weeks ago, I thought I would take another look at networking and specifically the associated fear and how you cope with it.



You stride over with confidence and a smile, say hello, introduce yourself, tell them you loved the last thing they produced and then ask them what they are working on. Ten minutes later you're laughing and joking and talking about your shared TV/FILM likes and swapping business cards. "Send me something," they say to you and you promise to keep in touch.


You want to go and talk to them but you don't know what to say. Your palms are sweaty. Your mouth is dry. You stare at them. They spot you staring at them and are a little bit freaked out by it. But you can't help yourself and continue to stare at them with an air of desperation. It's now or never, but your legs just won't work, let alone your voice. Your hesitation stretches from seconds to minutes and then when you finally decide to make your move someone else beats you to it. You go home beating yourself up, because it was an opportunity missed, even if you are secretly relieved.

Why does it have to be (B)? Why can't it turn out like (A)? The thing is it can.

I'm not going to write a three-hundred-page post about how you can get rid of your fear and become the most confident person in the world, I'm no self-help guru, I'm simply going to explain three truths about fear instead.

1 - Fear is a good thing. It prevents you from behaving like a twunt.
2 - Everyone feels fear, even the producer you're staring at. He's there to meet writers like you and is currently wondering why you haven't come over and introduced yourself.
3 - The majority of fear we experience is utterly wasted.

The last one is so simple and yet the one most people (including myself) overlook. I came across a great video on Facebook a few days ago that sums up number 3. You can find the link to it HERE! It perfectly illustrates how and why we spend far too much time worrying about stuff rather than just getting on with it.

Feel fear when you need to, not when you don't. Then when you do feel the fear, use it and go and do the thing that scares you anyway.

Jump in! Be awesome!

Happy writing!

Wednesday, April 05, 2017


First published - Wednesday, February 25, 2015


I'm off up to London tomorrow for a day of meetings with TV types, so I thought it would be a great idea to look back and revise a previous post on networking and how it will benefit your career. So here we go...


I have found by years of trial and error that the best way to get work and make great strides in my career, is to put myself out there and meet and connect with as many people as possible. Am I just talking about producers and directors? No...I mean everyone, everyone even remotely connected to the entertainment industry, actors, casting directors, script editors and fellow writers at all levels.

And it's not good enough to just show a passing interest in other people's work, I believe you have be genuinely interested in what they're working on. If I'm not genuinely in them and their career then those people I'm talking to will soon start to suspect I'm sucking up to them simply to further my career. Luckily I don't have that problem because I have a passionate love of film and TV and a general curiosity about people, so I find it a pleasure to talk to others (even if it does terrify me sometimes) and talk about what they are working on.

Remember it's all about them, not you, so never, ever go begging for work. Remain helpful, polite and never pushy. Talk to them, ask questions and avoid talking about yourself as much as possible. If you're asked a question try and answer it as briefly as you can, before you ask them another question. If like me this comes naturally to you, then it's a great advantage, otherwise you'll have to work very hard at it.

I used to keep a spreadsheet of people I made connections with, now there's a handy little app for the iPhone called CONNECTED that reminds me who I've had contact with, when and what we discussed. I couldn't live without it, as it can get quite confusing when I've have met literally hundreds of people, especially as I'm rubbish at remembering names. Some days I even need help remembering my own.

Signing up to social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn help with the process, but you must remember everyone will read what you write so keep a separate account for personal use and gobbing off, and one for professional. You are what you write after all.

Personally, I chose to only have one account on each site, as it would take too much time to keep up with separate accounts. Therefore I have to be very careful not to Twitter or Facebook when I come home from the pub and think it's funny to post a picture of my bum. General personal stuff is fine, it makes you appear human, just as long as it's not offensive.

There are plenty of other places to go and meet like-minded professionals including festivals, such as the London Screenwriters Festival, held every October in London. Not only will you meet a ton of writers at various levels, but also producers, directors and script editors. LSWF has now become so big it is now the most 'must attend' event on the calender. If you're thinking 'I can't afford to go', and you're serious about your career, then what you should actually be thinking is 'how can I afford NOT to go?'

There are also many other festivals, workshop and other great opportunities to network, set up by various well known and respected media bodies you should be looking at. You might even want to consider going on courses aimed at up and coming directors and producers... why? Because you'll probably be the only writer in a room full of hungry people who can get you screenplays made.

Writing ten or fifteen short scripts and offering them free to up and coming directors is a great idea to get your name and work out there. Plus if any are made it will give you something to be proud of and a credit on your CV. A good place to find directors is on Shooting People, Twitter and Facebook. Always remember to check out the directors previous work first to see if it's of the quality you want your short to be and if they are intending to place the finished film in festivals. That last bit is important as this will increase your exposure.


This is the one that best showcases your writing. It is not designed to ever get made (you're lucky if it does) but to show others what you can do. Make sure it is the best it can be before you send it out, as a sloppy, poorly written script will not impress anyone. And you need to send it everyone - production companies first and places like the BBC Writersroom and Industrial Scripts, and then to smaller producers and directors and actors and just about everyone, but with this second group of people only if they request to read it first.

And this is where the networking comes into its own. If you've done your job properly people will also be genuinely interested in knowing what you are up to and might ask to read your script. If they like your work they might even offer you some work.

It's really all about building relationships, making friends and creating an awareness of your work. Do this and eventually people will come to you when they need a writer and one day you might even get paid for it.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


Forgive me, for I have sinned. This is my first blog in a month... naughty Dom!

The reason I've been so lax is because I have decided to challenge myself. But it's no ordinary challenge, oh no, I've deliberately made it hard on myself and come up with something that is going to push me to the limit as a writer. The challenge is this...

Each month I will start a brand new project and write it from start to finished first draft within the calendar month. Some of the projects will be TV pilots and others feature screenplays. When they are done I will rewrite them alongside a new project during another month, until they are as polished as they can be.

So now you're thinking I'll be writing two projects a month, one new and one rewrite... but I'm not stopping there, oh no. To add to the above I will also be replotting my young adult fantasy novel and finishing the first draft by the end of the year. Looking a lot more difficult now, isn't it? But that's still not all of it.

I will also be dealing with any paid work that comes in and even though it will have priority, my aim is to continue the spec work alongside it. Yes, I can see some late nights, early mornings and long, lonely weekends in my future.

So to recap, that's one first draft of a new project, a rewrite of a previous first draft, continuous work on my novel and any paid work that comes in. But why?

Well, last year started out with the best of intentions, as most January's do. I had a paid feature ready to begin, but as the year dragged on and the feature and life issues got in the way, I let my spec work fall away to the point I was only working on the feature. Silly!

This year I'm determined to complete as many finished projects as I can. I might not do all that I have planned, but I'm going to give it a damn good go.

In January I wrote and rewrote a spec TV pilot with my writing partner Anne-Marie Caluwaert which we entered into the Stage 32 Happy Writers TV Pilot Competition. We are so proud it made its way as far as the last ten.

In February I rewrote a sitcom I created with my other writing partner Lee Helliar, as well as plotting a new TV crime drama pilot to start writing in March. And that's where I am now, I have over half my novel replotted and I'm busy with my head buried in the first draft of the TV crime drama spec... which isn't going too great I have to admit (only 25 pages in), but which I'm determined to finish by Friday.

I had better get on with it then.

Don't forget to challenge yourself this year, push the boundaries of what you think you are capable of and then push them again. You can't afford to sit still... no one else will be.

Happy writing!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


"You really should turn this idea into a feature."

Every writer has their favorite story, the one they spend months or even years developing, the one they still get a kick out of every time they read it. It's even better when others read it and fall in love with it too. But it's incredibly frustrating when the screenplay isn't optioned and ends up gathering cyber dust on the hard drive of your computer. Don't despair, no project is ever truly dead.

A screenwriting friend once described projects as roundabouts; eventually, they'll come around again. What he meant by this is that someone somewhere at some time in the future will be interested in that project and option it. It may not be today, tomorrow, or even next month, but at some point, the subject of your screenplay will suddenly be in vogue again. "Have you got anything with happy dancing, pensioner gnomes in it?"

That's why it's always worth revisiting your work now and again and bringing it up to date, so it's ready to go should the market change in its favour.

Then there's recycling your ideas. In a meeting with a TV company last month I was told they loved the sample of work I sent them, a pilot episode of a spec TV crime drama series. When they suggested the idea would make a brilliant feature I initially dismissed the idea. But the more I thought about it the more it actually made sense.

It's not the first time I've changed the medium of one of my projects. One of the features I was commissioned for has changed from British Drama to American Crime Thriller to British TV Crime Drama. The idea has been recycled, turned into something else, giving it more chances of being

So go and take look at your work and see if any of it could translate to another medium, whether that be a feature, a radio play, a piece of theatre or even a novel.

Happy writing!

Wednesday, February 01, 2017


Because I live on the busy South Coast of the UK it takes between two and three hours (depending on whether it's the fast or slow train) to travel up to London for meetings, which usually means a whole day away from my desk. So when I do travel up I like to make sure I have a packed day ahead of me.

I arrived at Waterloo at 10.00am yesterday, ready and raring to go. My agent was waiting for me under the clock and we hurried off to find a cafe, desperately dodging rain showers as we negotiated the London traffic. It was just a brief catch up over a latte before heading off for the main meeting of the day, discussing what I planned to write over the next few months and the various stages my current projects were at. And good news, my agent loved my new spec drama pilot episode and the series bible for a new crime drama idea. So after agreeing on a strategy for sending them out, I hopped on the tube for my next meeting.

It was cold and wet, so I was glad the lady emailed me to let me know she was already at the agreed meeting place and waiting for me inside. No standing outside in the rain like a lemon for me.

This was the big one, the reason for my trip, a major TV production company with offices all over the world and they wanted to meet with little old me. No pressure then... HA! In fact, it was a very relaxed chat. I sat down, ordered a pot of tea, she discussed how their company works, what they are looking for and what they are currently working on. Then we discussed my projects and I agreed to send her three of them. A great meeting. But after the latte and the pot of tea (Breakfast tea, three full cups) the pressure was starting to build, so I had to make a pit stop and grab a sandwich to go on the way to my next meeting with the brilliant Phil Mulryne, script editor of Doctor Foster series two.

Our meeting was just a little catch-up, two people with a love of TV and screenwriting chatting about what they were up to and what they were currently loving on the goggle box. It's always good to keep in touch with people and keep abreast of what they're working on. Another pot of tea later (this time lemon and ginger, another three cups) I scurried off to my final meeting of the day with my good friend Tom Kerevan... and he bought me a large latte.

The trains were delayed on the way home. Two people had been hit by trains in separate incidents. A lot of services had been cancelled and were only just getting up and running again. It was chaos. A lot of people were angry and could only see the two suicides as an inconvenience. It saddened me that our race can be so uncaring at times.

As I waited patiently for my train I thought about those two unfortunate souls, who for whatever reason had decided their lives were not worth living. I realised I'm a very lucky person to do what I love, to have others who love what I do and to be surrounded by those who love and support me.

So as I sat on the crowded train home, my bladder full to bursting, I said a little prayer for those two lost souls and promised myself to always be grateful for the opportunities presented to me.

Happy writing.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


There are moments in life that are just so amazing they leave you with a buzz, that feeling you're on fire and everything is right with the world. For writers, especially those starting out, those moments can be few and far between. It's important to make the most of them, to use them to help keep you going through the lean times. But how?

I went up to London yesterday for a general meeting with a production company whose dramas I've been a fan of for many years. The meeting went extremely well. On the way home I was worried the high I was experiencing would evaporate after a few hours and the motivation it created would be diminished. I began to wonder if there was a way to harvest the buzz I was feeling to use another day when the doldrums were upon me. In the past, I've kept a feedback folder, where I used to put all those lovely emails of praise to refer to when I needed. I have no idea where it is today, probably somewhere in the black hole that is my office cupboard, tucked somewhere at the back and now home to a family of spiders.

So what could I do? It was an idea of my wife's that helped to provide the solution.

A jar full of goodness.
A couple of years ago my wife Susie told me about an idea called the Gratitude Jar. She kept a jar in the kitchen and instructed me and the boys to write down anything that happened that we were grateful for and put it in the jar. Then on New Years Day we would open the jar and reflect on all the great things that had happened to us as a family over the previous twelve months. But as usual with these things we did it for a few weeks and eventually forgot about it.

As the South-West train zoomed through the countryside to Poole I thought, "Why can't I use a Gratitude Jar to keep a track of all my highs as a writer, so they're there when I need them the most?" So I've nicked one of my wife's empty jars she was saving up to make jam with and I've put it on my desk where it will be in view every time I sit down to work. When something good happens I'll write it down on a Post-it Note and pop it in the jar. By the picture, you can probably tell there are three BUZZes in there already. January is already proving to be an awesome month.

The next time I'm in a slump I'm going to grab that jar, pulls out some of those BUZZes, read them and perk myself up. You might like to try it too.

Happy writing!

Wednesday, January 04, 2017


2016 was a roller coaster of a year. There were ups and downs, twists and turns and at a couple of points I felt so sick I wanted to get off. I didn't though, I stayed on board until the bitter end. I'm glad I did, because late November early December everything flipped upside down.

But before I get to that, let me tell you more about my 2016.

THE LOWS - Every writer experiences them, even the well known and well paid ones. That brilliant idea you love gets rejected by everyone you send it to even though they love it, the promise of work never materialises and you constantly find yourself butting your head against dead ends.

I had a couple of really big slumps during the year and found myself questioning whether I should quit and go and find something more stable to do instead. I didn't of course, I never do, it's just not in may nature to walk away when things get tough. Successful writers are resilient buggers and besides, the highs would be nothing without the lows. So after each slump I sulked for a couple of hours, took a week off to do wonderful non writing related stuff and then went back to things refreshed, with a renewed optimism and enthusiasm.

Disappointment is inevitable, so if you want to be successful make sure you brush it aside as quickly as you can and carry on. You just never know what's waiting around the corner for you.

THE HIGHS - They fell in to three categories; 'Well That Was Nice', 'Flippin' 'Eck That's Awesome' and 'Mind Blowingly Epic'!

Here are just a few of the 'Well That Was Nice' and 'Flippin' 'Eck That's Awesome' highs that happened over 2016 - I finally found the time to finish two spec features I'd been tinkering with on and off for a couple of years. I made it into the quarter-finals of several screenwriting competitions, including with the two new features and I even made the semi-finals of one competition. A feature I wrote with one of my writing partners in just twelve days made the quarter-finals of every competition we entered it into. I had several general meetings and I was invited to the BBC TV Drama Writers' Festival, went to LSWF 2016. Over the year I was lucky to meet many wonderful directors, producers, script editors and of course fellow writers

It was the 'Mind Blowingly Epics' that really rocked my world though - The feature written in twelve days made it down to the final ten of the FINAL DRAFT BIG BREAK SCREENWRITING COMPETITION. I think if we had entered it in another category it could well have gone further. My spec TV drama pilot WONDERLAND made it through to the final ten of Idris Elba's Green Door, Green Light Initiative. It didn't make the final three and it didn't matter, just knowing Idris himself was reading my screenplay was enough. I'm on his radar now! But best of all something truly amazing and unexpected happened, a real boost to my career. It's really fantastic when all your hard work is recognised and rewarded. So what is this mind blowingly epic thing..?

Well... all I'm going to say is things are looking up on the TV front.

So for 2017 I already have two big meetings set for January and I'm looking forward to telling you all about them and what I get up to for the rest of 2017, this time next year.

Happy New Writing Year!