Whilst desperately trying to avoid doing any real work, I’ve been browsing through a few scriptwriting, comedy and general TV forums and looking at some of the complaints voiced by aspiring writers … I thought I’d address a few of them here:
1. Film/TV in the UK is too London centric
Yes. And no. Films are made everywhere, bits of TV are made in most big cities; but yes, a large proportion of film and TV is made in London and those producers tend to want to work with someone they can actually talk to face to face. If you live in Tinycock, Cumbria then you are at a slight disadvantage. If you write something so ball-smackingly amazing it just has to get produced – no one will care where you live. If, like most of us, you’re distinctly average then geographical location can be a problem.
This may be a hard pill to swallow, but people like to work with people they like.
Even weirder, it’s easier to like someone when you’ve actually met them and not just read one mediocre script. A mediocre script from someone you like and can sit down and discuss how to improve has much more chance of being produced than a mediocre script from someone you don’t know. That’s just the way the world works. Luckily, there is a solution: move.
Really, it’s not that difficult. Sell your house/flat/bedsit, or give notice on your contract, chuck your stuff in a van and drive to a new house/flat/bedsit in (or preferably near) London. If your lifelong ambition is to be a lighthouse keeper and you happen to live in Birmingham then it’s just tough shit – you have to move for the job. Many, many jobs involve moving to a new location, if you want to do it badly enough then just suck it up and move.
Of course, some people can’t just move for personal, familial, health or other reasons – in that case, sorry, but you’re just going to have to be better than everyone else. You’re actually going to have to learn how to be a good writer.
2. The Writersroom doesn’t promote new writers, it’s just part of a BBC conspiracy to … blah, blah, blah
Fuck the Writersroom. Seriously, fuck them.
The Writersroom do a good job, they have a specific remit to fulfill and they do it well. They are an invaluable route into the industry and everyone should make use of them, but … THEY ARE NOT THE ONLY ROUTE TO SUCCESS.
Phew! Underlined and in bold. Maybe I should use italics too? No, that’s overkill.
If the Writersroom is your only strategy then you’re a fucking idiot. The competition is immense and the odds are you won’t get anywhere with them. You might and you should try, but for fuck’s sake don’t pin all your hopes on them. If they don’t read your script past ten pages it might be because you got a reader who doesn’t like/get your particular style of writing, but it’s far more likely you’re just not very good.
No, let’s qualify that – it’s far more likely that particular script isn’t very good. It isn’t necessarily a reflection on you as a writer.
But it probably is.
“Ah! But I know someone who got rejected by the Writersroom but then got optioned by– ”
Oh fuck off.
So what? I mean, really, so fucking what? Good for them, that doesn’t make the Writersroom wrong or ill-conceived or evil or a conspiracy or anything. It just means one person didn’t like your script and someone else does. People like different things, grow up and get on with it.
Try the Writersroom, try something else. Try everything else. Just stop fucking whining about it.
3. Nobody reads unsolicited scripts
Yes they do.
No,wait … let’s look at this again. Why do a lot of people SAY they won’t read unsolicited scripts?
Because most scripts are utter shit … and there are a lot of them out there. A whole mountain of shit, oceans of shit … offering to read unsolicited scripts is basically asking people to shit through your letterbox.
But they will do it. Read unsolicited material, not shit through your letterbox. I don’t think anyone offers that service – although, there is a gap in the market …
Write to them, be polite and ask them. They might say yes. You’d be surprised how many people will give you a go. One go. Don’t fuck it up.
4. I can come up with the ideas, I just need someone else to write them
Then you’re not a writer, you’re a producer. Or more likely, a fucking no hoper/dreamer.
5. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know
This is exactly right … and mostly wrong. Learn the what, then go out and meet the who. Most writers start without knowing either. Most successful writers learn how to know both. Most failed writers forget to learn one or the other. It’s a fairly simple fucking equation:
WHAT + WHO = COMMISSION
Stop being a whiny bitch.
6. Nobody will give me a break
Fuck you, why should they? Make your own breaks. You may well be a competent, engaging writer with an interesting voice and something to say. Chances are you fall short on one or more of these things; but I can guarantee, with mathematical certainty, YOU ARE NOT AN UNDISCOVERED GENIUS WHOSE WORK IS BEING IGNORED.
Most likely you’re mediocre, maybe you’re even competent, possibly one of you reading this blog is actually edging towards good – but it doesn’t fucking matter. You can make a career for yourself if you try and keep trying. Nobody will hand you a career and all those examples you can quote about so and so getting discovered by random chance are either bullshit or so fucking unlikely it’s not worth thinking about. Someone, somewhere got a truly lucky break – good for them. Someone somewhere won the lottery – chances are it’s not going to happen to you, so make your own fucking luck.
7. ‘INSERT FAMOUS WRITER/PRODUCER/TEA BOY HERE’ stole my idea
No they didn’t. Your idea was shit, they just had the same shitty idea. You remember that newspaper article which set you off? Guess fucking what? You weren’t the only person in the world to read it. They just got there first. Tough shit, move on.
8. Producers are biased against older people
How the fuck do you know how old someone is from a script?
9. Producers are biased against race
How the fuck do you know someone’s race from a script? If you’re that worried, change your name to John Smith – that’ll fox ’em.
Actually, this one is vaguely true – some producers are incredibly racist … but guess what? You wouldn’t want to work with them anyway.
10. The BBC is biased against race/age/ sex/disability
No it’s fucking not, the BBC bends over backwards to be all encompassing. It’s probably not your race/age/sex/disability which stands against you, it’s probably your complete lack of ability and the fact your head is shoved right up your arse.
11. The BBC is biased against white, middle class men because it has a PC agenda
Fuck you, you whining little prick. “Oh, help me, I’m part of the only demographic in the country who doesn’t get discriminated against and some people who don’t owe me a living, despite my personal beliefs, are trying to encourage someone who isn’t me to take part.”
Go fuck yourself.
12. I can’t get an agent
That’s because you’re shit.
Anyway, why the fuck do you want an agent? You haven’t got any work. You have no contracts to negotiate, no ten percent to pay them and have made no effort to advance your own career – why should they do what you can’t be arsed to do?
13. I’m too tired after my job to do any writing
Get a different job.
14. I can’t find time to write because of my children/family/pets
Kill them. Kill them all now. You’ll obviously be much happier without them … although you will then have to find someone else to blame.
This is just the way the world works – people who have time to do something are more likely to succeed than people who haven’t. If you can change your situation (without killing anyone, please) and scrape half an hour a day – then do it. If writing means that much to you. Although, really, it’s just a whole ball of frustration and headaches. If you can’t, if you really, really can’t (not even 29 minutes?) then it’s just tough.
15. All the other complaints I’m fucking sick of reading when I really should be doing something useful
You’re wrong. All of you. Or maybe you’re not, either way – shut the fuck up and get on with some writing.
Like what I’m not doing right now.