Friday, November 18, 2011

New Writing Talent Search: Heartlands

BBC Writersroom have joined up with the nice folk who make Doctors to develop an exciting opportunity for Midlands-based writers.

Heartlands will provide an industry training and development opportunity for writers with some of the most experienced producers in the country. A shortlist will be invited to a masterclass day. Selected writers will then be chosen to take part in an intensive three-day mini-academy for Doctors, and/or
receive mentoring on their original script from an established writer.

On Monday evening I went along to the launch event at Birmingham Library Theatre.

Will Trotter (BBC Executive Producer, Drama Series) Peter Lloyd (Senior Producer, Doctors) and Paul Ashton (Development Producer, BBC Writersroom) were there to officially launch the search, to talk about BBC One drama, Doctors, and to answer questions.

The main focus of the Q&A was on Doctors, as you would expect, but Paul Ashton did cover the Writersroom unsolicited script process and speak a little about television drama, both in the region and nationally, in the current economic climate.

I came away feeling really excited about the opportunity, but also about Writersroom in general. I think in the past I've thought of Writersroom as a big impersonal mechanical process, but having heard Paul Ashton speaking about it I can see that it really isn't, and of course it wouldn't work if it was.

All in all a brilliant opportunity and I will definitely be entering. The deadline is 9am on December 2nd so no time to waste.


NaNoWriMo novel is still chuffing along. Had a very bad time of it last week, so much so that I ended up feeling that the week might have been more productive if I'd just headbutted a wall every night for five days while chanting “NA-NO-WRI-MO-NA-NO-WRI-MO”.

This week I finally seem to be settling back into the groove and I'm now relatively happy with how it's going. Again.

I've found myself recalling the anecdote about Douglas Adams being locked in a hotel suite until he finished So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish quite a lot lately. I think I've found some strength in his example this week and it's helped me pick myself up. I'm also rereading Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency as a small tribute to him and a treat for me.

Support has also been provided by that lovely
Neil Gaiman, who linked to this on twitter and cheered me right up. There can't be all that many professions where the news that it doesn’t get any easier can be encouraging.

Something else that I've been reminded of - years ago James Moran mentioned in a blog post that while you might say you don't have time to write, you still find time to watch television every night, or read a book (I can't find the link sorry, so just go and read his Big
Writing FAQ again instead). I feel like the living embodiment of this point, having hardly looked at a television or seen my ever supportive wife all month. On the other hand I've written about 26,000 words of prose. It's amazing what you can do when you try, eh?

Due to the
Heartlands deadline, and with a heavy heart, I've decided to abandon my secret target word count of 65,000 words. My new ambition is to finish (hit 50k) by November 25th to give me a full week to work on my Heartlands entry. A full week, you scoff. Yes, a full week. Luckily I have just the draft zero script for this competition sitting in a draw. I've been meaning to do something with it for ages but now the opportunity has come knocking it's time to make it shine.


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