Monday, 23 August 2010

Pitching to the bloody squirrels: twitter not witter

My head hurts at the moment. Why? It’s that bloody world wide web and more specifically bloody, BLOODY social media.

I started this blog back in February as a way to give myself a bit of a kick in taking myself seriously as a writer, after all why should anyone else take me seriously if I don't recognise myself as a writer worthy of a blog and a url. I’m also not very good at talking about myself as a writer. I go on writing courses and hit the introductory moment, “tell us a little about yourself and your writing and what you would like to get from this course”. I hate talking in public let along talking about writing! So I usually witter on senselessly, expressing nothing about myself or my writing. So I thought blogging would be good for me, a chance to think it all through.

A couple of months ago I thought that really I should engage with my twitter account properly as a means to feed readers to my blog and attempt to raise my profile a little more effectively. Otherwise I’m just talking to myself and frankly I do enough of that anyway. At least in the morning walking the dogs, when I wander through the woods, talking to myself or practicing pitching my ideas, I know that the squirrels are listening.

So anyway, decision made that I should talk to the twitterverse as opposed to the squirrels.

I didn't consider myself to be particularly lacking in information before, I checked BBC Writersroom, visited a few blogs on a regular basis (Danny Stack, James Moran), I thought myself to be well versed on the world of script writing. PLEASE! The squirrels were more knowledgeable than me. In the space of a few short months I have found myself hitting complete and total overload of information on writing. Every time I open tweetdeck I find myself going on a little journey of writing knowledge. Which is good because stories are always about journeys, and overcoming obstacles, and conflicts and change. Now where did I see that again? Oh yes, every-bloody-where.

My desktop is littered every night with shortcuts that I've dropped to read later; to blogs, websites, article, that have been highlighted. There is just so much information out there, there is just no excuse, none for anything other than success. Admittedly it takes perseverance, bloody hard work and more hard work but there is advice out there telling you how to develop ideas, how to structure, the format to write in, where to send your scripts, what to do if your script is rejected, how to re-draft, and on and on and on. Pick a topic, look it up. The answer is there.

But it isn’t just the information that is out there it is the support too. I also quite regularly end up feeling like I've been given a group hug by the writers community and given little pep types on not giving up. In fact one writer this week (James Moran) did offer and give a virtual hug. Bloody hell that was lovely.

There are so many writers out there who happily share, FOR FREE, every bit of knowledge they have on writing scripts and how to succeed as writers. To me these people are like Gods. The ones who live the dream. They don't have day jobs, they fill forms in and put WRITER in the occupation box, they get commissions, they have agents, they have premieres of films.

Beyond that though is also the world of people like me who want to be able to put WRITER in that box, the people who enter the same competitons as me, who send their scripts to the same script reading services as me, and they too are happy to share anything they know, have learned or are in the process of learning.

This blog has ended up being much longer than I expected but that’s simply because I’m being fed so much to say. But to put it as simply as possible here are a few of the endless stream of things I’ve learned in the last week or so from twitter.

1. No swearing. Watersheds have to be considered. So what if the character would swear? Watershed won’t allow it. Take the swear words and put them elsewhere. (Write Here Write Now)

2. Script sprinting. Pick a project. Decide on timings. 30 minutes, 45 mins, 60 mins. Set a time to start and a time to finish. Then write, just write. No distractions. Just write. (Jane Espenson)

3. It isn’t just a myth, aimed to sell writing courses and writing books, that writers spec scripts can be picked up by producers. It really does happen that a writer without an agent can sell that script. (Kevin Lehane)

4. Script competitions with big cash prizes can be won by a good script (Andrew Carter) It was genuinely heart warming to see his tweet saying that he had won Scriptalooza

5. Writers work bloody hard. They write all the time. In the mornings, in the day, in the evenings, at night-time, in the early hours of the morning. If they’re working on something they write all the time. (Everywhere on twitter)

6. Writers work bloody hard getting writing work. They don’t sit around waiting for a phone call signing them up for the next big drama. They are pitching, meeting, scouring, developing, networking, whatever they need to do to get the next jobs lined up. If one idea is successful it isn’t enough you have to keep moving forward, marketing yourself, working the room. (Everywhere on twitter)

7. Rejection doesn’t end because you can put writer in the box on the form. Ideas will still be rejected, scripts will still be passed on. But writers get on with it, push another idea forward, re-work the idea. They don’t sulk for a few months and go on on-line forums complaining about why their script was rejected. (Everywhere on twitter)

8. How to make Swedish meatballs just like IKEA sells. Not strictly about writing but a very valid argument for engagement with twitter. (Lisa Holdsworth)

There is no doubting that the main advice to which any writer should adhere – if you want to be a writer then get writing, then write some more, then write some more. But there is also a very good argument for spending a little bit of your time each day checking out the world of writing on blogs, facebook, youtube, twitter and so on.

As for this over long blog, I promise from this point onwards twitter not witter.

Further blogs coming here soon
Why am I so scared of direct messaging?
Is twittering making me write more?
How can I be funnier, on twitter and in my scripts?
What the bloody hell is a #hashtag?

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