Wednesday, March 14, 2012


As writers how do we measure success?

I think the reason most new writers get frustrated is because they have unrealistic expectations of how successful they want, or are going to be. When you're starting out it's easy to dream of BAFTAs, Golden Globes and Oscars, but these are completely unrealistic aspirations for a new writer and have no basis in reality. I'm not saying you shouldn't have ambition, ambition is good, so are goals, but they have to reachable and realistic and you should grow you expectations and goals accordingly.

Should you compare your career to other writers? I think this is an easy trap to fall into and one that any writer should avoid at all costs. Why should you compare your writing and career to other writers, it's just putting more unnecessary pressure on yourself? Every writer is different. Every career is different. Every success is different. There are the perceived high fliers like Steven Moffat and then there are those writers who are not so well know, but who still make a perfectly acceptable living, like the ever wonderful Phillip Barron. Do you think Phillip considers himself a failure because he doesn't have his own show on TV watched by millions? I bet he doesn't. You have to find your own level of success, you have to find your own definition of 'making it'.

I can sum up what success means for me with one question...'Am I happy?' And the answer is yes! I am very happy where my career is right now, I'm earning money and I'm writing features that have a good chance of getting made. This doesn't mean I've given up on writing for TV, that particular goal still drives me onwards, all I'm saying is at the moment I'm extremely happy to be paid to do what I love.

Thursday, March 08, 2012


With mobile telephones, emails, Facebook and Skype freely available to the majority you would think that communication would be easy... but it isn't.

My first feature commission The Lost Soul has been a giant learning curve for me. When I received the notes for the second draft it was obvious the producer and I were miles apart with our thinking and that's all due to not communicating properly. To be honest no one person is at fault, we all have to take a share of the blame. The producer and director should have been up front with me about why they wanted to make The Lost Soul, where they were coming from and what they expected of me, and I should have made sure I asked enough questions so I properly understood what was needed. I could have used the French/English language barrier as an excuse, it certainly didn't help the process, but it wasn't the route cause. The extremely tight deadline of 31 days to write the first draft, with little or no preparation, might have contributed to things as well, but really poor communication was what let us down.

Communication is key when working with someone, whether it's a paid commission or just a collaboration with a friend. If you're not absolutely clear about what you are working on then mistakes are going to happen. You should never rush into a project before you know exactly what is wanted from you, no matter how tight the deadline. If you don't know, then ask. The people you're working for won't mind you asking silly questions, they just want you to understand, to get it right. Get it right first time and it'll save you a lot of time and effort down the line. This is a lesson I have recently learnt and will never make again.

Thursday, March 01, 2012


How many of you have pictures of locations pinned around your wall when you sit down to write? No neither do I, but when I was sent some photos of possible locations by a director recently it got me to thinking.

As writers it's our job to write visually - show, don't tell after all - so why shouldn't we use visual references to help ignite our imagination? I usually have a script preparation book (A4 sheets of notes bound like a screenplay) beside me, which usually includes character bios, a treatment, a beat sheet, research, my forty key scenes and any other notes I think I might need when I sit down to actually write. It would be quite easy to add a few visual references to the book, as an aid to help visualise locations for my screenplay.

When I come up with my characters I sometimes visualise a certain actor in the role to help me write them, so it would make sense to do the same with locations. Yet I don't do this... but I certainly will from now on.