I am making some elementary mistakes (even Dr Watson would cringe) with my writing at the moment. Not only have I wasted loads of time trying to decide which project to work on next (and thus working on nothing) but I’ve also hit a wall of the brick variety when writing the script for a comedy drama.
Basically, I did my research for the slot I’m writing for and came up with a premise that fit the demographic and subject matter of it precisely. My person-in-the-know loved it because it ticked all the boxes – because I had purposely made it so. I was very proud of myself until I got down to the writing.
After getting my character profiles sorted and a story plotted I started to think of the actual script, and that’s when I did a phenomenally good impression of a rabbit being startled by a rather big light. I realised I had written the perfect synopsis for someone else to write. This just wasn’t me. This wasn’t the style of writing I want to get into. The characters weren’t interesting to me, their voices bored me. This was my first mistake. So I started plotting (only in mind) a complete new idea that was relevant to me, a story that was based on a sitcom idea I have that I was contemplating butchering for this project.
Then my wife hit me, but that’s a totally different story. I then realised where I had wrong with the project. I spent so much time analysing the slot, the demographic etc. that when I got round to writing the thing I was still thinking ‘how would the writers for this slot write it?’ which, of course, is NOT what I should of been thinking. At that point I should have said ‘right, now its my turn,’ and written my own take on the premise. The truth is that it doesn’t matter what subjects or character status you have – you control them, you create them, you write them. Once I started to put my own voice into the story it became interesting to me again. I’m writing for a slot not a show, its not the perfect slot for my work but its a career-progressing one and one that is open to different voices.
I looked at some of my other project ideas and realised I had come up with a lot of them by also thinking ‘what kind of film would [person] write’ and once I started thinking of my own again, some interesting ideas came bulldozing their way out.
I guess the moral of this story is ‘read someone else’s blog – an idiot does this one.’ But also: ‘you need to know what people want to commission but make sure it matches up to what you want to write.’ There is a home for your voice even if its a little bit crowded at the moment.