Wednesday, January 31, 2018


I've been in a rut for several months now, going through the motions and not really enjoying what I do. This is mainly down to a deep abdominal strain I picked up at the end of August last year, one that stubbornly refuses to heal. It has been causing me a great deal of pain for the past five months. It's very debilitating and has been incredibly draining. It got to the point I simply couldn't contemplate even thinking about sitting down to write when I knew that doing so would cause me more pain. In fact, it got so bad I dreaded firing up my iMac. I decided I had to do something about it.

Drowning in self-pity and doubt yesterday, I sat and thought about what writing is, what it means to me and broke it down to examine the reasons behind why I chose to be a writer in the first place. I asked myself a lot of questions. Can I really class myself as a professional writer? Is it, in reality, nothing more than a hobby that occasionally pays? Am I actually any good at what I do? Is it an obsession, an addiction that is getting out of hand? Can I make a sustainable living from it? Do I have the motivation to get on with my writing when I'd rather be playing Call Of Duty on my Xbox, or any other of the numerous ways I could procrastinate? I was brutally honest with myself. Should I carry on or should I walk away and call it a day?

What I discovered is that yes I do love writing. Yes, I am very good at it. Yes, I have found it difficult recently. I know I'm struggling at the moment. I know it occasionally feels like I'm banging my head against a wall, especially where TV writing is concerned. I know my motivation isn't what it would normally be, mainly because of the struggle with the pain I'm having to live with on a day to day basis. But despite all that and after stripping everything back, I realised I write because it makes me happy. I'd forgotten that.

For me, it's not about seeking adulation. Nor justification. Not even remuneration, although it's absolutely fantastic when my bank account is full. And it's definitely not about making other people happy. I write because it makes me happy. What I write makes me happy. I'm happy because it's what I want to do and not something I have to do. I'm happy because I have the most fantastic job in the world where I can write about the things that appeal to me, the things that get my juices flowing, the stories that I would happily read and enjoy myself. Every one I finish brings me great satisfaction. What happens to it after that really isn't important. That's other people's worry. The journey and how I get there is the only thing that matters. My happiness matters. If I'm miserable then what is the point?

I'm only going to write what makes me happy from now on. I'm not going to try and please others. I'm just going to please me. And when I do that I'll know what I produce is going to be absolutely awesome. It's when I'm at my best. I'm going to cut out the noise and get on with what I want to focus on, what I need to focus on for me.

So if you're feeling down, or think you're not getting anywhere with your career, take a step back and ask yourself this simple question... What makes me happy? When you know the answer go and do that. Nothing else matters. Everything else is a distraction. Events and states of mind are tempory. Disappointment is tempory! Rejection is tempory! Feeling adrift is tempory! Pain is tempory... even if it's been with you for five months! Find your happy.

Those two words I always signing off with have never been so poignant.

Happy writing!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018


Writers' block doesn't exist. It's a myth. It's an imaginary hurdle some writers use as an excuse when they've been lazy and haven't done enough preparation before diving into their writing. Here are a few ways to avoid tying yourself up in knots and to keep the words flowing.

1 - First things first, it's important to remember ideas don't fly out of nowhere fully formed. A spark of conversation, an article in the local paper, or even something you've seen on TV might ignite an idea for a story. You might even be lucky enough to have the basic framework of your story idea suddenly present itself to you. However your idea reveals itself, you will still have to put a lot of work and effort into it to get it on the page. As the saying goes, nothing comes for free.

2 - Preparation is key. The more you do the better. I know writers who refuse to write treatments or outlines, who are quite happy to throw themselves headfirst into the chaos of a screenplay without as much as a paragraph of preparation. And then they wonder why they come to a stumbling halt part way in. Mental! I couldn't work like that, but if it works for them then fine. From my experience the more work you do beforehand the easier it is to write your first draft. There won't be those unexpected pauses where you suddenly discover your character doesn't work, or there's a gaping hole in your plot. Or if there are, there will be far fewer of them and they will be easier to deal with.

3 - Even with the best preparation in the world you will occasionally stall when you encounter a problem with your screenplay. If you do come up against an unexpected pause the best way to deal with it is to go off and work on something else. Give your brain time to think about the problem and find the solution without pressuring it. The worst thing you can do is sit there staring at that blinking cursor for hours without the slightest clue on how to proceed, tying yourself up in knots because the answer won't present itself instantly. You could always skip to another section of your screenplay, one you know you don't have a problem with and write that. Eventually, the solution to your problem will present itself and you'll be able to go back and work on it with confidence. I prefer to go for a walk and usually find the problem has resolved itself by the time I get home. Fresh air works wonders for firing the imagination.

4 - Write bollocks! Yup, I did just say that. If you're struggling just write anything, even if it is crap. Having something on the page is better than nothing. Writing utter rubbish is better than staring at that dreaded cursor or procrastinating on Facebook. You're a writer, so write. Crap can be fixed. Rubbish can be refined. Bollocks can be whipped into shape. A blank page will always be a blank page.

5 - Work on more than one project at a time and ensure each one is at a different stage of development. That way you can keep things fresh, switching between the projects when you need space to think on something. I usually have one project at outline stage, another at first draft and a final one that I'm polishing ready to send out.

Happy writing!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


It's only the second week of 2018 and already I've had reason to be frustrated/angry/utterly fucked off with other writers' attitudes.

I requested to join a screenwriter's Facebook page called SCREENWRITERS WHO CAN ACTUALLY WRITE last week. The arrogant title alone should have set the alarm bells ringing, but like the optimistic and sometimes nieve believer in humanity that I am I went ahead anyway. My request was approved two hours later and I logged in to have a look at the topics they were discussing. One caught my eye straight away.

The Admin had decided to take a screenshot of a member's post giving advice on copyrighting work in the UK and used it to slag her off, laughing at the advice, using the label 'Screenwriting Guru' as an insult and arrogantly announcing to everyone this member knew absolutely nothing about copyright law. He reinforced this by stating he was a lawyer and personally knew of fifteen examples of work being stolen from members of his Facebook page, yet in an article he wrote for ScreenCraft it was clear he couldn't even tell the difference between a WAVER and an NDA. I couldn't believe what I was reading.

As I continued to read the comments the insults increased, not only from the Admin who boasted of his fifty-six competition wins in an attempt to prove his experience, but from many others in the group too. Disbelief turned to anger and anger rapidly evolved into disgust. Not only were they dismissing what was very sound advice, they were happy to go even further and shamelessly assassinate the character of the lady in question, aggressively challenge her experience and achievements, proudly and smugly declaring she had none and should be ignored. They seemed perfectly happy to ignore her two feature credits as a producer, her years as a reader and script editor, her three published writing guidebooks and two internationally successful novels.

What she had to say was in direct contradiction to their limited knowledge of the industry, so instead of debating with her and questioning her on why she believed her advice to be true, they delighted in dismissing her as an inexperienced wannabe, an idiot, ignoring what she had to say and her experience. I was a member of that Facebook page for less than five minutes... I think that might be a record.

It seems I post blogs about this subject at least twice a year and it dismays me that people still can't grasp the basic fact that being nice, polite, encouraging and helpful are the basics of not only a long and successful career but also the basic requirements of humanity. Just because you think you know more than others, even if you actually do, it doesn't make you better than them and excuse you for treating others with contempt.

My message is simple... don't be a fucking dick! Be better! Make the difference!

Happy writing!

Monday, January 01, 2018


2017 has been a mixed bag of success and disappointment... just your typical writers' year then.

On the upside, I've created and written several new projects, my writing has done really well in competitions and I've had the opportunity to pitch ideas to some exciting companies and writers I'm looking forward to working with in 2018. On the downside, this was the first year since becoming a full-time writer that the work I lined up didn't come to fruition. Every year since 2010 when I became a full-time writer I've landed work, even if it was only a small project. As a working writer, it's always tough when you have a barren spell. It happens to us all and it can easily erode your confidence. Not me though, it just makes me more determined that 2018 is going to be my most successful year to date.

Don't get me wrong, 2017 hasn't been a total loss, in fact, it's been a great year overall. I've made progress. I have some fantastic possibilities lined up. I've worked extremely hard to get myself in a position where 2018 is shaping up to be quite awesome, with multiple projects ready to go. I now need to ensure I keep that momentum going. So what are my goals for 2018?

It's important to set yourself goals for the forthcoming year. Some writers even advocate adopting a five-year plan. However, I think a one-year plan is sufficient as things can change quite quickly in twelve months. More importantly, those goals should be achievable.

For 2017 I set myself the goal of writing a new screenplay and rewriting an old one every month for twelve months and a lot more besides. It was far too much. I should have set myself a more realistic target. My goals for 2018 are as follows...
  1. Earn a TV drama episode commission.
  2. Finish at least four new projects - two feature and two TV drama.
  3. Have a feature optioned.
  4. Have a TV series idea optioned.
  5. Win a screenwriting competition.
  6. Finish my novel.
  7. Watch more TV drama including keeping up with my favourite continuing dramas.
  8. Watch as much of the programmes recorded on my Sky + box as possible and get it down and keep it below 25%.
  9. To make more of my YouTube channel and social media in general.
  10. To read more.
Just ten goals and after all the hard work I've put in this year they are all achievable.

What were your 2017 successes and what are your 2018 goals? Let's share them.

Happy writing!