Wednesday, June 21, 2017

BLOG REWIND - THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY

As it's National Writing Day today, here's a blog post from 4th February 2015 about rejection, handling it and why writing is so flipping awesome.

There have been times in my career when I've seriously considered packing it all in and walking away for good. Where the promise of a regular income and a steady job seemed a whole lot better than the continuing struggle to get anyone to like my work, surviving on nothing but a few pennies a week.

Yesterday (03/02/2015) I read Lisa Holdsworth's excellent blog on rejection - read it HERE - where she nailed what it's like to be a writer and how we deal or fail to deal with rejection. Every one of her points hit home and at the end of the blog post I was actually sniffing back tears.

She actually got me, got what it means and feels like to have my work rejected, and for once I felt I wasn't alone. That's the hardest part I think, the feeling of being alone and isolated with your 'shame' and 'anger', knowing that your family and friends, even though they mean well, don't really understand the crippling effect of being told 'NO'.

All writers face rejection, it's an occupational hazard. Every writer will at one time or another have to face it. But whether it's a project you've been working on for months that gets rejected or you're dumped from a project in favour of someone else, the mark of a great writer is that they learn to deal with it and move on. Yes, the bad times can hurt as much as a kick in the fluffy bits - I've even had to sell my book collections and DVDs just to be able to eat on a couple of occasions when money was so tight - but I've learnt that nothing is forever.

Sometimes as writers I think we set up ourselves for most of our falls, happily telling everyone that will listen about a possible new project that physically and emotionally excites us, only later for it not to go ahead. It's hard not to share our excitement over possible projects with others. We see people so rarely that when we're asked what we're up to the temptation to blurt out every little detail is overwhelming.

Some writers are better at keeping things to themselves than others. Personally, I'm crap at it and I'm sure it makes the rejection harder to deal with when you're asked..."What happened to your Vampire vs Robots project you told me ITV were interested in?" and you have to inform them ITV decided not to go ahead with the idea.

But it's not all bad. Us writers wouldn't do this for a living if it was.

There are days when you feel like nothing can dent your armour, that you're invincible and everyone loves you and what you do, when you just want to sing from the rooftops and tell everyone how well things are going. Those precious moments when a development exec says, "we really love your writing and we'd love to work with you," are the highlights that have us punching the air, strutting down the road as if we own the world. And for those few treasured moments, we do.

We are giants! We are superheroes! Our words are platinum! Our ideas genius! And the world is a beautiful place once again..!

Happy writing!

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS

As I've said many times before, it's advisable to read as many screenplays and screenwriting books as you can to improve your writing. Learning and constantly topping up your skill set helps keep you one step ahead of most new writers. However, sometimes you just have to trust your instincts.

Thanks to the hard work I've put into my blog over the years, I'm lucky enough to have publishers send me screenwriting books to review. There's a pile of about eight sitting on my bedside table at the moment, waiting for me to find the time to wade through them. Some have been sent to me and others I've bought because they interested me. Since January I've read four books. But I've just decided not to read another one for a month or two because I'm finding they are becoming a bit of a distraction.

Over the last week, I've been plotting a new feature. But it's been slow going, not because the idea doesn't work, but because I've found myself trying to implement various techniques I've read about in those four recent books. I've spent more time thinking about hitting turning points, growing character arcs and some other less conventional writing methods than actually just writing down the plot and seeing what I have.

I'm lucky in that structure and character arcs usually come quite naturally to me, more so than dialogue does, that's for certain. Sometimes I forget to trust that natural instinct of mine, to just get on with the writing and not over think things. Just seeing what I come up with, without dissecting every little detail, is very liberating and helps me to get on at a much quicker rate.

So I've stepped away from the books for a while to let my instincts take over again. I'm not saying these how-to

books are a bad thing, they're not. They're essential for keeping your writing on the right track. I'm just saying that sometimes too much of anything is a bad thing and the occasional rest does you the world of good.

Learn to trust your instincts, they may not be as bad as you think.

Happy writing!