Saturday, 6 February 2010

Write, Right

My days have been long for the last few weeks - coupled with fighting the Never-ending Cold, my writing has taken a distant 3rd or 4th place in priorities.

I'm going to start trying to be more open and involved with this place. There are a lot of social sites, and it's easy to become embroiled or bogged down with update-fever, peppering yourself thinly about each of the places, rather than achieving focus.

I'll be using this as a place to jot down ideas, thoughts, little anecdotes and updates for my work and life in general - basically allowing this place to do what it was supposed to do when I first started using it! Practice makes perfect, or something....

It's a raining Saturday in LA, one of those days when the world outside seems to shrink and vanish into mist, where your horizon stretches no further than those places where you can keep warm and dry.

This is also compounded by my work week, which has been an unusually long one. I've been denied the small pleasure and luxury of snuggling in bed with the wife and a good book.

I'm also one of those people that, regardless of what ever time I get to bed, I tend to wake up at the same time - so rest has seemed like a myth.

My day job is a good one - it pays well, is interesting and often gives me great opportunities and experiences that I would otherwise not get near. It does come with a price though. The hours to wage trade off means that I've been struggling to feel like I have enough time in the day to get the things done that I would like. My options were to either sleep less, do less, find another job or give up and cry. Or, of course, I could just manage my time better.

I'm lucky in that the thing that I want to do, that is write, is enjoyable enough to me that I find it quite easy to get done. I don't mean that I find writing something good easy, but rather that the task of actually doing the writing - the legwork - is something that I don't struggle with.

My process of working tends to take place in my mind for a long time - planning and plotting in the head, occasional notes jotted or sketches made to remind me of things. This is good because I am giving a lot of thinking time (the day job has a lot of mundane and repetitive tasks, performable while plotting). The actual work of getting the words down comes much later, but because of the thinking done, comes in bursts. Sure, there is some polishing along the way, but the graft tends to be in one big blast of typing.

I'm also lucky that I've had several jobs that involved writing to deadlines - sometimes these were a matter of hours, sometimes they were days or weeks. Writing to deadlines - even the most mundane writing, the writing of something so uninteresting or apparently uncreative to you - is a great skill to acquire, and I thank all those hours of television listings, film reviews, scripts, technical reports and interviews that I worked through.

One quick anecdote. Five or six years back I worked with a friend on putting together some scripts for a development project. He met with a group of producers and presented several scripts, including one that I had written, and one that I had helped him with. The meeting went well, and they took two of the four scripts he present. They then asked if he had anything else - in particular they wanted a low budget horror (the manna of small production companies). He said of course and they asked if he could do another presentation later that week with the script. He said of course.

We came up with a title, a rough idea and then wrote the full script in three days. They optioned it, and the film even got as far as having a director attached. Not bad going.

In the next post I'll be writing about comic book work, and what I think writers can learn from film writing, and what they should be trying to avoid.

Until then...

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