Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Rules (Part 1 of ?)

Writing hard through January has taught me a couple of lessons about myself and how I write.

Do your prep. Preppy! Preppy! Prep! This is pretty obvious but sometimes I just can't wait to get started. I'll think to myself "I'll work it out as I go." This is stupid and will only end in me hitting a brick wall and abandoning ship (mix your metaphors much?). I have a couple of projects I really can't face going back to because I hit the ejector seat mid-flight. More planning would have fixed this. I don't mean working out whether your characters are Elvis or Beatles men and what flavour Fruit Corner they like after dinner, but it does mean knowing where the story is going, and having some waypoints to work through, even if all that changes once you're writing.

Plan for as long as you like, draft to a deadline. No more open ended writing first drafts for me, once I'm ready to start I need to eat breathe and sleep that script until the draft is complete. In the past I've stepped away from a script because of a problem, or for no real reason, but once I've lost that enthusiasm there's no guaranteeing I'll get it back. Plus it's all very well having written notes to refresh your memory but what about all the stuff you don't write down? The things that just occur to you while your writing and get filed away for rewrites? I know the human brain remembers everything but accessing it can be an issue, best to press on. A month should be enough for a first draft of anything.

Work hard but take breaks. Even if you only do the dishes (one of my favourite working out issues jobs), feed the cat or make a cup of tea. It might be hard work to force yourself to sit at your desk sometimes but it can be just as important to get up and move around.

It's basic stuff but putting it down in black and white feels good. I think I need to lay down some laws for myself and these are the first. I need to come up with something about distractions but we'll come back to that.

On another note the following image has helped me out a lot this month, I can't remember where I got it but I wanted to share it with you...

Friday, January 30, 2009

Happy New Year!

You see what I did there? Oh yeah, everyone can talk about New Years and resolutions at the start of January. Me? I like to hold back for the start of February so I get every one's attention.

Actually I don't. I just did it this year because I didn't want to think about what was rubbish last year and what was going to be different this year then crash and burn. So I've had a nice shiny month of writing, and thinking about what I'm going to write next month, and how this year is going to be the first of the the rest of my writing career.

I just finished my first draft script of the year, which I only started on the twelfth of Jan (that's like light speed for me).

So now I feel like I can confront the shit that was 2008 and expound upon the mighty bedrock that is to be 2009. Let's get it on then and look at what I asked for last year...

I didn't have a blog last year so I can't use it to gauge this years achievements. Unfortunately I'd say a lot of the things on this list would have been on it last year too. On the other hand I passed my driving test, changed my career and moved to the Midlands so it wasn't a total loss. Here is what we want from 2008

  • Write daily, establish a routine.
  • Complete a clutch of scripts in time for SFW '08 in Cheltenham.
  • Make some contacts/promote myself more.
  • (Finally) send a follow up script to Writers Room.
  • Enter Red Planet '08.
  • Send a steady stream of spec scripts to 2000AD.
  • Most importantly - get something published or produced somewhere.
  • At least one bog update per week - and on a broader range of subjects.
  • Maybe a little fiction on the blog now and again?
  • Low Carb diet and plenty of regular exercise.
  • Possibly create a new website.
  • Buy a house.
  • Have a proper holiday (like abroad and everything!).
  • Organise time so Emma and I have more 'quality' time together.
  • Watch plenty of good telly, films and theatre.
  • Read constantly.
  • Build a Linux machine.
  • Get more enjoyment from small pleasures.
  • It's not that much really, eh? In the scheme of things. Just laying the bedrock for a productive writing career.

My greatest problem is not completing projects and if I can't beat that Devil in 2008 then I might as well quit. Yes, you can hold me to that.

Oh God it's even worse than I thought. Especially as it starts with a disclaimer/excuse. I was going to start this one by mentioning buying a house but we'll brush over that...

Write daily, establish a routine - I failed terribly with this last year. I continued to work in fits and spurts, mostly binge writing. This will feature in the list for this year, and to my credit I can tick this for January so I've started well.

Complete a clutch of scripts in time for SFW '08 in Cheltenham - Yeah right. I completed one script last year which I then went off immediately. And I didn't go to SWF.

Make some contacts/promote myself more - Kind of ironically I did less of this than I had the previous year.

Enter Red Planet '08 - Nope. (Finally) send a follow up script to Writers Room - Still no.

Send a steady stream of spec scripts to 2000AD - No, not one.

Most importantly - get something published or produced somewhere - Or not.

At least one blog update per week - and on a broader range of subjects - Negative.

Maybe a little fiction on the blog now and again? - What you mean like this list? Would have to write some first.

Low Carb diet and plenty of regular exercise - Actually yeah, I've done a bit of both of these. Unfortunately they don't really help with the writing.

Possibly create a new website - No, didn't need to. Might be something I look at later this year though.

Buy a house - Yes. Back of the net.

Have a proper holiday (like abroad and everything!) - Again, yes.

Organise time so Emma and I have more 'quality' time together - Another yes, mostly (I think Emma would agree).

Watch plenty of good telly, films and theatre - Actually I did well here too.

Read constantly - Not constantly, still a binge reader, read quite a lot though.

Build a Linux machine - No, and this is to be discouraged. No diversifying, I'm a writer, I don't have time for hobbies.

Get more enjoyment from small pleasures - See previous answer, or just dry up and fuck off.

It's not that much really, eh? In the scheme of things. Just laying the bedrock for a productive writing career. My greatest problem is not completing projects and if I can't beat that Devil in 2008 then I might as well quit. Yes, you can hold me to that. - And this just in... No, you can't hold me to that. Turns out it was a typo. Ha.

So there you have it. As far as writing goes 2008 was bad, but four little weeks into 2009 and it all feels so much better.

I do feel that I've spent the last couple of years putting myself in a good position, in terms of work and at home, to concentrate more energy on my writing career. I'm putting that to the test by devoting the first half of this year to producing spec scripts.

As I mentioned I already have a rough draft one for a feature to show for January's effort, next month I plan (between rewrites) to develop two new ideas I have for drama series with a view to writing an episode in March, I'll worry about April when we get to March, if that isn't getting a little too confusing.

Anyway, the objectives for 2009;

  • Continue current routine for writing daily (more or less daily anyway, I do usually have Friday nights off).
  • Produce a nice fresh bunch of spec scripts of various genres/formats by June.
  • Participate in the scribosphere more fully, I've been a bit of a lurker recently (for which I apologise).
  • From July onwards I intend to look at promoting my work more, start entering some competitions again, and basically get down to the proper hard part of writing - getting someone to do something with your work.
  • On a similar theme, Make some contacts/promote myself more - NETWORK
  • Yes, this year the Writers Room follow up is going in, even though they've probably forgotten who I am by now!
  • It's another carry on, more books, TV, films and theatre. It's all about the words.

I've always taken pride in maintaining a professional attitude in the day job and working as hard and as well as I can. It's time to apply that to my writing and to make it stick. If I can't do that then I really might as well... no, I'm not going down that road again.

The good news is that so far I'm very pleased with 2009, which gives it a head start on last year already.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Patrick McGoohan, 1928 - 2009

Perhaps oddly it is not his awesome turn as Number Six in The Prisoner with which I most strongly associate Patrick McGoohan. In fact as a self confessed genre nut it's unusual that of all his roles, as he strode through cult film and television during a fifty year career, the performances I most cherished were in two relatively mainstream pictures, both of which have sat comfortably in my top ten favourite films of all time for some years.

Hell Drivers (1957)

Ice Station Zebra (1968)

The world seems a weaker and smaller place for the loss of this magnificent actor and great intellect.

The Guardian

BBC News



Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The 7.10 to Euston

I had resolved not to post until the end of the month but find myself on the train with very little to do. If only I had an Asus! On the plus side I do have access to email and therefore you! No pretty pictures today though sorry.

Haven't posted a proper update in about a month so what the hell have I been doing? Well...

As work (the bill paying kind) tends to gear up going into Christmas I expected not to get much writing done. In fact I wrote December off altogether and concentrated instead on catching up on some reading and viewing.

Christmas was lovely. Our first in our new house, our first where we didn't have to dash up/down the motorway on Christmas eve, our first with Nyssa. Of course it was all over a little quick, even with my generous five days off. Before you know it the decorations are coming down and you're wondering why you spend so much longer preparing for Christmas than enjoying it...

New Years aren't really our thing so it was a quiet one. Particularly quiet as Emma went to bed poorly which left Nyssa and I to see in 2009 on our own. We celebrated via GTA IV (actually I thought the code crunchers might have put some fireworks in for New Year visitors to Liberty City but I was disappointed, perhaps in GTA V!).

I do have some resolutions, and a follow up to last years, but it was a scibosphere resolution frenzy at the start of the month so I'll save mine until the end. Just to be different.

That's enough for now. I'll post properly towards the end of January. Must go as the man is coming for my ticket so I'm afraid I'll have to trap him in a private cabin, strangle him with his tie and haul him out of the window as we pass through a tunnel. Even I can't really be expected to blog as I murder.

"Oh my ticket? Yes certainly, I think I put it over here..."

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Back soon

Busy at the moment but back soon. Here's a funny from bLaugh in the meantime...