Sunday, 29 July 2012

Dreaming in Moderation

It's not easy embarking on any ambition but screenwriting offers the newcomer a new level of difficult.

Today the aspiring markets are more flooded than ever and so competition is fierce.

Anyone can write by sitting down to write but not everyone can write well. Even less are willing to put the time in to improve and do their homework.

Then there's the art of selling it; and yourself. As well as facing numerous rejections and disappointments that are commonplace in the creative industries.

It's a long journey that requires more than discipline, passion and resilience to survive.

The Art of Dreaming

To constantly dream of an ambition and desirable state of being will get us nowhere.

In the beginning, this is all we had once the dream was discovered. And so, compelled and obsessed as we were we turned up to write and dream. We put in years of creative efforts in order excite, thrill, feel and escape. To role play in fictional worlds. Then we come of creative age and arrive at a crossroads:

To continue with our head in the clouds or to walk the pavement of reality. 

This pavement of reality has a strong gravitational pressure and has been known to crush dreams. But nothing moves forward without a decision. We must step into the gutter and learn to stomach the odour. The odour of inexperience, insecurity and overwhelming odds.

Stay Connected 

Dreaming in moderation is an essential part of the writer's life and mindset.

Striking a healthy balance between reality and dreaming is key to productivity; renewed energy, motivation and commitment; achievements; and envisioning new horizons.

"To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe."

- Anatole France

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Things From James Moran

I'm not going to talk about the present or future James Moran and his two feature films up for release this year. No - it's about that new writer on the scene and prolific blogger, and curse word user, who had just sold his first spec script we know as 'Severance' back in 2005.

James has been blogging in his writing journal for around 9 years now. This tempted me to travel back in time and see what he was like in the beginning. Although, it's not the actual beginning from when he first started writing, but from when he won the Sci-Fi Channel's Sci-Fi Shorts Competition, got his ten-minute script entry made, and got an agent.

I flicked through a few more early entries from 2003 - 2005 which are interesting and quite fascinating, as he talks about the umpteenth draft of Severance, then named P45, which was becoming quite a nuisance. But what interested me and thought I would pinch and share are some great and insightful words from 2005. So I will unless he sues, hacks me with a sharp fictional object or explodes my toaster with his mind. Or my mind with his toaster. 

  1. Things I Have Learned: 
  • Characters and background first, then plot - it's so much easier that way round 
  • It's a lot harder to sell an outline, than a script 
  • Shorter, shorter, shorter - you can always trim more stuff out of a script or outline, it's always too long 
  • Everyone else is pretty much making it up as they go along, too - not just me 
  • No matter how nice movie/TV people seem - Don't. Fucking. Trust. ANYONE. Most of them are decent people, but some of them are fucking evil, greedy sharks in human form, that will slice open your kidneys with a homemade shiv if you give them half a chance. Even the nice ones who you're friendly with are looking out for their careers, not yours. 
Being able to say that I'm a writer is a huge step. It's vital to recognise your strengths, without bragging. And, of course, your weaknesses - but they're easy to see: being nice to yourself is much harder. As for that final bulletpoint, I am *not* exaggerating. It's a harsh, harsh world out there ("it's a shit business!"), but particularly so in MediaLand. I've learned the hard way that you have to be extremely tough and thick-skinned. Never climb into a shark tank without cast-iron underpants. You don't have to be a bastard to people, just don't let them walk all over you. 

Things I Want To Do In 2006: 
  • Become a better writer 
  • Sell another movie 
  • Write two full spec scripts, and just write more in general 
  • Go to a film festival to plug Severance 
  • Write an episode of Doctor Who (fuck it, aim high) 
  • Do a DVD commentary 
  • Get fitter, and lose more weight 
  • Write shorter blog entries 
I'm on the hustle. I want to get out there, show my face, put my name into hats (or something). Things move way too slowly in MediaLand - you make your own luck, and you have to push for what you want. I've wasted a lot of time this year when I could have been writing or outlining. 2005 was great fun, and watching the creation of Severance, from casting, storyboards, location scouting, shooting, to editing, has been an incredible ride. Seeing something get organised, filmed and edited can only improve my writing - already my stuff is shorter, sharper, and more effective. Except for my blog entries. They just get fatter and more self-important. But hey, like I say, get your own blog, I'm in charge here. 

That first section, some brilliant advice. The last part speaks for itself.

I can say that he does now write shorter blog posts, most of the time. They are really a lot shorter. I'm not just saying that. 

Here's the full blog post with lots more advice and insight, and here's his free writing seminar in a blog post.

He has made his own luck and that is how it's done.

*All words and copyright belong to James Moran except the bits that I wrote, although, he can have them too, if he wants* 

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Overdoing It

For the last two weeks I've had a welcomed break from writing. Specifically, script and development work. At first, I wasn't sure how it would go but soon realised it was what I needed.

It's said that you should write everyday in some capacity and we should. However, I have learnt that every once in a while it's nice to step back and have a short time out.

For me, the greatest pressure in my life are the expectations I place on myself. This isn't ideal. It pays to know when you're being unreasonable but it's also healthy to push yourself at times. Like anything, it's about balance. Only now am I realising the importance on easing up and taking breaks.

A valid reason to take a short break is to catch up on the things that have been piling up while you've been focused on writing. Like a cluttered space things soon stack up and can pollute your mind. It's a great way to refresh, de-clutter and recharge the batteries.

During the short break you may find some new inspiration and motivation. It may deepen your faith in writing, and yourself. It may make you adapt to a more healthier way of working.

If you can't remember the last time you took a break from writing - it might be time.

It's all too easy to lose yourself in writing but discipline also lies in knowing when to step back and do other things.

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