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by Peggy Bechko
The catch here is that you have to be as serious about your writing work as I am.
So what ‘rules’ am I going to show you? What rigid ‘do it this way’ ideas will I present?
I’m going back to basics and nothing is written in stone, ever. I read tips all the time and I admit I’m guilty of writing them. Rules though, even suggestions are tricky. What works for one doesn’t necessarily work for another. But, there are some strong basics I suggest. Simple, but powerful.
- Wake up and bring energy to the time you write. Really, face the day with enthusiasm, joy and energy and you’re going to write much better. So, how do I do this you say? It’s a mental thing (yes you can add caffeine) and a body thing. Maybe take a walk before you write (I walk even when the snow is knee-deep and the chill considerable). It wakes the body and stimulates the mind. If that’s not for you, just move, maybe walk up and down stairs a couple of times if you have them, play with the dog, do some stretches, whatever it takes to get the blood flowing a bit. If you have challenges and can’t do that kind of movement, THINK about it. Seriously, picture yourself doing it. Wake up, center, really feel enthusiasm for what you’re about to undertake. Creativity is dampened by boredom, exhaustion and low energy. Act first to bring yourself up to speed. You’ll see a definite difference in your writing.
- I’ve found more and more that a to-do list or some sort of planner really does smooth the way. It helps me keep organized and know what’s up next on my calendar of projects that need to get done. And, planning out the next day or at least the beginning of it means when I sit down (or stand up) at my desk I know exactly where to start and am far less likely to find myself cruising the web or checking endless email and social media. Those are fun, yes, but they can be terrible distractions. Also, if you have recurring deadlines of any kind a simple ‘month-at-a-glance’ calendar is a great help. I have both on my desk, the calendar and a simple list of things that are coming up that I need to get done. Try it, see how much more you get accomplished.
- Finally do the most important things first. If you want to get some wordage out there, do that first. Write. If you’ve promised a guest blog post somewhere, get that done. Whatever it is, prioritize. I keep a highlighter handy in a couple of colors and when I create my list for the next day’s launch, if there’s something that really needs my immediate attention I highlight it with one of the colors. There may well be more than one, so I keep one color for the most important, highlighting that most important with one color and something of less importance with another. Then I check things off as I get them done.
Try out these three tips and you’ll find the simple approach with propel you forward in creativity as well as productivity.
And don’t forget Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. Grab your copy of Book 2 now! And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page
It’s a hard world out there in TV Land, boys and girls. The following advice is addressed primarily to wimmens, but no matter what your gender do yourself a favor and listen to what Jessica Gao has to say:
by Jessica Gao
1. Job titles are varied and confusing. If you ever look at TV credits, it’s hard to find “writer” anywhere. Because of the writers’ union’s rules (more on the union later), there are several different titles for writers based on their level of power. Upper-level writers have the word “producer” in their title (e.g. co-executive producer, supervising producer, etc). Lower-level writers are executive story editors, story editors, and staff writers. In movies, the director is the king of the project. In TV, it’s a writer called the “showrunner,” which is exactly what it sounds like: the person who runs the show. It’s commonly the show’s creator but not always. The showrunner is credited as “Executive Producer,” and while most shows have several executive producers, only one is the showrunner. (To add to the confusion, not all producers are writers.)
3. Everyone has a hand in every script. Even though an episode of a show says “written by so-and-so,” every single person on that writing staff contributed to the script. On comedies, all the writers talk out each episode’s story and outline together. Then the person assigned to that episode will refine the outline to turn in to the network for notes. After getting the network’s notes, the assigned writer turns in a “writer’s draft” of the script, which then gets additional notes from the showrunner or head writer. At some point, the whole writing staff will pitch in, going page by page and line by line together to make every bit of the script better.
4. Don’t feel pressure to be one of the guys. The whole room is already filled with guys. They don’t need another one. But what don’t they have in the room? Statistically speaking, another female writer. According to the Writers Guild of America’s staffing brief for the 2013-2014 TV season, only 29 percent of staffed writers were women. So doesn’t it make more sense to fill the role that is severely underserved in the room? The sole woman in the room offers a perspective that no one else in the room has. That’s incredibly valuable and it shouldn’t be hidden so a bunch of dudes are more comfortable.
Last summer, the Go-Pro people, makers of those cool, teeny, virtually indestructible action video cameras that everybody and his mother now uses to, you guessed it, shoot action video footage, have decided that customer created content is worth even more than they originally thought.
As of now, the GoPro Awards will pay content creators $500 for a photo, $1,000 for a raw video clip, and $5,000 for an edited clip – and this is prize money in addition to any licensing fees entrants in the contest will be paid.
The idea here is to shoot the crap out of everything you can and upload your photos or videos to GoPro in such categories as:
Oh, and you can also post it on YouTube, Instagram, or wherever else you usually post your work because, well, because this is a contest that is bending over backwards, frontwards, and sideways to be fear.
Right now there’s $5,000,000 in the kitty, and this definitely seems to be something for peer producers, indie video makers, et al to take advantage of. The place to go for more info and to do the upload thing is HERE.
TVWriter™ has no horse in this race, nor any axe to grind, but we’re hoping you’ll enter – and win – and tell us all about it. Or just win and keep it quiet. Whatever works for you.
by Larry Brody
The latest list of series I’ve recorded the latest episodes of but know damn well I’m never going to watch:
- DOCTOR WHO
When Russell T. Davies brought back DOCTOR WHO 10 years ago the Doctor was a hero who took as much delight in being in danger as he did in extricating himself and others from it. Under Steven the Imposter Moffat the Doctor became, first, a self-doubting human-like fool, and now, a true villain who destroys everyone with whom he comes into contact. I love Peter Capaldi as an actor but won’t watch the show again till the Moff’s been replaced by a real showrunner who knows what the gig’s all about.
This cute romantic buddy show has aged into one in which star David Boneanaz has aged into a new personification of the role that made him famous. No, I don’t mean Angel from the show of the same name, I mean Angelous, Angel’s dark side. This is what happens to formerly nice people who become producers, whether they start out as actors, writers, or lovers.
- THE LIBRARIANS
I tried, really I did, but if I wanted insipid pseudo-science adventures about ancient, magical artifacts, I would have watched WAREHOUSE 13. And THE LIBRARIANS, unfortunately, is an even weaker version of the same premise, proving that TNT makes even worse sci-fi than SyFy.
The stupidity of this series’ action-packed yet purely technological MacGuffins and the absurdity of its premise that high I.Q.s are what define genius and all geniuses have the most obnoxious forms of Asperger’s Syndrome have combined over the past year and a half to create genius-level boredom. The show has been pure self-parody since halfway through the pilot, and although I wanted to believe that was deliberate, I’m sad to say that I can’t fool myself anymore.
I discovered NCIS while recovering from a heart attack and accompanying surgery. Now, after seeing almost 13 full seasons I finally have healed enough to realize that as much fun as this series’ ’70s TV-like presentation can be, its gung-ho chauvinism and repetition of the same 2 plots week after week have severed its spine…which ain’t easy considering that it was made of jello.
And here’s a special bonus disappointment currently on Netflix:
- LAST TANGO IN HALIFAX
This BBC loser started off as a serious drama about something to which I totally related: Romance and the rediscovery of what’s important in life at an age when most people are just sitting around and waiting to die. I identified with Derek Jocobi as the male lead, Alan (even though both the actor and the character are substantially older than I am), and my wife felt the same about Anne Reid’s female lead, Celia. But at this moment, with 3 episodes left to watch in the third series, I’ve had it with the weak, self-pitying men and strong but catastrophically rigid women. All the characters keep on making the same mistakes, over and over and over, and I’ve written – and maybe lived – enough soap opera to never be able to put myself in a place where I can enjoy it.
That’s it for now, kids. Off I go to spend a few pleasant moments of pushing, “Delete, delete, delete….”
In case you missed Amazon’s latest announcement about how they’re going to pretend to be interested in newbie screenwriters while still making all their major deals with, you know, major players:
by Team TVWriter™ Press Service
Amazon has announced Amazon Storywriter, a free, cloud-based screenwriting software for writers of all levels to create movie and TV screenplays in standard format, offering an alternative to pricey industry options. Also, in an effort to further enable talented writers to present their work for consideration and to expand its search for the next great movie or TV series, Amazon will now accept drama submissions and will no longer take a free option on scripts submitted directly to the amazonstudios.com site.
Creators can simply log in with their Amazon account to access Amazon Storywriter. The free software promises to take the pain out of formatting, with features including auto-format as you type and import/export of PDF, FDX and Fountain formats. Screenwriters can write online while their scripts are saved as they work, knowing all their material is being stored securely in the cloud. Additionally, they can write offline with a free installable Chrome app for Mac and PC.
“Amazon is thrilled to support the evolution of our creative community by offering advanced tools like Amazon Storywriter to assist both established and aspiring writers in telling their stories,” said Roy Price, Vice President, Amazon Studios. “Amazon is dedicated to producing high-quality, original films and television series that customers love, and enabling more writers to obtain access to creative resources will ultimately help us discover great new talent. Just recently we were thrilled to debut the second season of “Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street,” a kids show that came to us as a script submission. The show has been a huge hit with customers and a testament to the open door process–we can’t wait to see what comes in next.”
Amazon says that the company is always on the lookout for compelling new voices and interesting characters in series and movies that have the potential to become hits. Amazon continues to accept original scripts for feature films, primetime comedy series for adults, series for children between the ages of 2-14, and now for the first time also welcomes drama series submissions. In addition, Amazon will no longer take a free option on script submissions, thus allowing Writers Guild of America and the Animation Guild members to submit their original material through the online submission process.