Why You Need a Mentor

Extremely valuable advice for anyone embarking on a new career. Yep, even writers…honest!

by Eric Ravenscraft

Having a mentor is a great way to gain experience and knowledge that’s not easy to gain from formal education. Ironically, getting the most out of your mentor doesn’t come with a handbook. So we wrote one.

 Of course, you may wonder why you need a mentor at all. Simple! You don’t know everything. Sorry rebellious youth. The truth is that most people who are just starting out don’t really know how to get what they want and even fewer know how to ask for it. Finding a mentor in the field you want to pursue is a great way to learn the necessary skills and career paths you need.

Choosing the right mentor is the most important part of getting the most from one. A good mentor can teach you how to reach the goals you’ve set for yourself. So first, ask yourself what you want to do. Want to write a book? Start a business? Learn to code? The best mentor will be one who knows how to do what you want to accomplish (and, ideally, has done it successfully before).

Of course, what you want to accomplish doesn’t have to be limited solely to a job. Being a manager is something many people can do. Being a good manager is another thing entirely. A good mentor shouldn’t just be one that knows more than you, but one that appeals to you. Try to imagine yourself in the position they’re in. If that’s an idea you’re okay with, move forward. If you dread the idea of becoming the type of person they are, keep looking. Becoming successful and being miserable aren’t intrinsically linked….

Read it all at Lifehacker

How to Save for Retirement When You’re a Freelancer or Self-Employed

If certain rumors about the future of Social Security are to be believed, the following is indeed a public service message and important not only to writers but to everybody out there who, you know, makes a buck or two on their own:

by Dan Rafter

It’s not easy saving for retirement when you work a full-time job that provides a steady income every month. But if you work as a freelancer, small business owner or independent contractor? Saving enough for retirement can be even more challenging because your income can vary so much each month.

One month, you might rake in the big dollars. The next? Your income might slow to a trickle. Because your expenses don’t follow the same pattern, saving money for retirement can be a challenge.

When you’re self-employed, you also don’t have the benefit of a 401(k) retirement savings plan into which to automatically deposit retirement savings every time you get paid [Update: one participant 401(k) plans exist for business owners with no employees]. Fortunately, you can still save enough for your retirement years even when your income is unstable. It’s all a matter of planning for your golden years and calculating how much you need to save for retirement each month to get there.

Here are five steps to take to save for retirement when you’re self-employed:

1. Be Realistic About Your Retirement Date

Freelancers and independent contractors often say that they can keep working for as long as they need to. But that attitude isn’t necessarily realistic.

“Freelancers are really no different from anyone else,” says Teresa Ghilarducci, economist and director of the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at The New School for Social Research in New York City. “They have to get real about how long they will be able to work and how much they’ll need to save to enjoy a comfortable retirement….”

Read it all at Lifehacker

Larry Brody: TVWriter University Update for 2017

The University of Tomorrow - Today

The University of Tomorrow – Today

by Larry Brody

Brace yourselves, online learning-about-writing fans, because I’m here to announce some changes in the TVWriter™ Online Workshop, um, thing.

Our various workshops, operating under the collective name of TVWriter University, have been up and running on the web, with occasional forays into the Real World (remember the various Brodystock Summer Intensive Seminars and the Secrets of the Writers Room held at the original Cloud Creek Ranch in Southern California, in Las Vegas, and even in Arkansas?) since 1999 or 2000. (Guess I should keep better records.)

Over the years we’ve altered the formats and added some activities from time to time, and this year the big news can be expressed in one word:

Consolidation.

As of this month, there no longer is a Fundamentals of TV and Film Writing Workshop. Nor is there an Advanced TV and Film Writing Workshop.  At least, not by those names.

Inside, we’re combining both of them into the new TVWriter™ Online TV and Film Writing Workshop. All the reasons for this are presented on its web page (which used to be the Advanced Workshop page) HERE.

Thanks to the current volume of electronic entertainment available to so many more people than ever before, and a more open and respectful attitude from institutions of higher learning, those who are interested in learning the fundamentals of scriptwriting, whether they want to use them for pleasure or profit or, of course, both, have much greater access to the knowledge they need than ever before.

I’m thrilled with this development, and just as contemporary scriptwriters can now take advantage of the fact that the viewing audience is so knowledgeable about video and film “language” and construct stories that shorten or bypass what used to be the standard Act One, now those of us devoted to helping the next generation of writers learn the craft/art/business thereof can jump into more advanced and, I think, interesting storytelling techniques.

I’m not abandoning complete newbies. The new Online TV and Film Writing Workshop is structured so that those who need that info will get it, not only from me but also from their more advanced classmates. And the more advanced writers will also benefit by getting the reactions and opinions of classmates who can remind them that not every viewer – or showbiz executive for that matter – loves, or even understands, the latest in experimental entertainment.

Bottom line, after a fascinating hiatus from teaching for most of this year, in which I re-entered the trenches of production and became far more aware of what’s happening in both the creative and business ends of The Industry here and now, I’m once again ready to pass it all on.

To “play it forward” in, I’m hoping, a more successful way than it was in a certain underachieving film by the same name.

The next TVWriter™ Online TV and Film Writing Workshop starts a 4-week session January 11, 2017. It’s limited to 5 students, so I suggest you shift into gear and check out the details ASAP HERE.

And, while you’re at it, why not take a look at our other offerings, including Larry Brody’s Master Class, which will also be ready to rock in January? Those details are HERE.

That’s it for now, kids.

LYMI

LB

 

 

Posts TVWriter™ Wishes We’d Published Instead of These Other Guys

This week’s collection of recent articles from other websites about TV, TV writing, etc., etc., etc. The plan here is for you to click on their headlines and visit the sites and read the posts in full…and is anybody asks, tell ’em TVWriter™ sentcha, okay?

The joys of binge-watching
by Scholars and Rogues

 

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For the past year I have had some health issues that have taken me out of active circulation—nothing life-threatening, but certainly life changing during the period, and for a little while yet. One of these was a broken bone in my foot that had me sitting in front of the television for a solid six weeks, leg up on the hassock and (for the moment) out of the boot thing they give you these days.

The other stuff doesn’t need details, but it also involved being relatively immobile for long periods. Plus the interesting effects of some of what they put you on these days for various things. For someone with no real health issues since I got mono the summer I was 20 and some back stuff in my 30s, this came as something of a surprise. All of a sudden, I’m getting old. All of this has largely plunked me in a chair in front of the television, for a considerably longer time frame that I would have considered healthy, or laying on the couch with my laptop on wherever your lap is when you’re laying down. So this was a golden opportunity to catch up on stuff, through the joys of Netflix and Amazon….

Trendspotting: Old-Age Romance on TV
by Lara Zarum

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In the second season of Jane the Virgin, the title character’s abuela, Alba (Ivonne Coll), is disappointed when her first love interest in many years turns out to be a jerk. Her daughter, Xiomara (Andrea Navedo) tells her not to blame herself. “You got swept up in the romance,” she says. “Yes, that’s the truth,” Alba replies. “Plus, I was horny.” “Oh, my god, welcome to my world,” Jane (Gina Rodriguez) replies. Her blooming romance may have wilted on the vine, but the experience makes Alba realize she wants to start dating for real. As with many old-age romances on TV, the first step is admitting it….

Breaking into Screenwriting: Features vs. Television
by Lee Jessup

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The writer herself

 

When approaching the industry strategically, many writers consider not only what they enjoy writing or what format speaks to them, but also where they might have greater odds for building a tangible, sustainable, screenwriting career. Judging by the numbers, there are more opportunities in television than there are in film. In 2014, over 4,000 WGA members claimed income generated from working in the television sector; by contrast, only 1,800 WGA scribes made their money in the feature film sector. Therefore, it’s easy to assume that there are just more opportunities in television, and accordingly breaking into that particular sector should be easier. But is that really the case…?

Find Purposeful Work With The Joy-Money-Flow Model
by Kristin Wong

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“Follow your passion” isn’t always the best advice, and that’s partly because it’s so limiting. Instead of looking for a single path to success, Chris Guillebeau recommends looking for work that overlaps in three areas: joy, money, and flow.

When you “follow your passion” that generally means you plan to work toward one specific thing. Maybe you want to be a cinematographer or a musician or a marine biologist. Life doesn’t always work out so neatly, though, and you might find you don’t actually enjoy the work, or maybe you’re just not good at it, or maybe it’s just not a viable career path. There’s nothing wrong with trying something specific, but as Guillebeau points out, there’s not necessarily a single path toward your search for purposeful work.

Posts TVWriter™ Wishes We’d Published Instead of Those Other Guys

This week’s collection of recent articles from other websites about TV, TV writing, etc., etc., etc. The plan here is for you to click on their headlines and visit the sites and read the posts in full…and is anybody asks, tell ’em TVWriter™ sentcha, okay?

The Guggenheim Brothers Offer a Look Inside a TV Writing Family Dynasty
by Lesley Goldberg

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The Guggenheim brothers have formed their own TV dynasty.

The trio, eldest brother Marc Guggenheim (The CW’s Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow), middle child Eric Guggenheim (CBS’ Hawaii Five-0)and youngest David Guggenheim (ABC’s Designated Survivor), together oversee four hours of broadcast television every week.

So where did their love of the small screen come from? The brothers stopped by The Hollywood Reporter for a Facebook Live this week to open up about their different paths to primetime as well as their dream collaborations….

Why television writing has become the new home of verbal complexity

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The death of Geoffrey Hill this summer put one of his more astringent declarations back into circulation: “Accessible is a perfectly good word if applied to supermarket aisles, art galleries, polling stations and public lavatories, but it has no place in the discussion of poetry and poetics.” Characteristically for Hill, this sounds imperious, but you can’t deny that it’s funny. And it’s funny because the statement embodies the difficulty it’s arguing for – “difficulty” not necessarily in the literary sense, where it’s conflated with “obscurity”, but in the sense pertaining to human beings, as in “She’s quite difficult”, where the word is synonymous with peculiarity, intransigence and eccentricity….

The Humbling, Humiliating True Story of a Middle-Aged Woman in Hollywood
by Pamela Redmond Satran

Pamela Redmond Satran, author of, "Younger" inside one of her favorite Montclair bookstore, Watchung Booksellers on a recent Friday. Ms. Satran's book has been picked up by TVLand to be turned into an original TV series. Gregg Vigliotti for The New York Times

There’s a superstition among novelists that the things you make happen to your characters might happen to you. This goes far toward explaining why I wrote a novel called Younger about a middle-aged mom escaping the suburbs for a new life in the city in the arms of a 26-year-old tattoo artist. Wishful thinking or prophecy? Maybe both….

You’ll always guess wrong
by Ken Levine

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There are some writers who are gifted and amazingly prolific. David E. Kelley, Aaron Sorkin, and Matthew Weiner can pretty much write an entire season of television themselves. I don’t know how they do it. If I tried that I’d be dictating the last six episodes from ICU.

There are also very strong showrunners who perform extensive rewrites on every script that comes across his or her desk….

Posts TVWriter™ Wishes We’d Published Instead of Those Other Guys

This week’s collection of recent articles from other websites about TV, TV writing, etc., etc., etc. The plan here is for you to click on their headlines and visit the sites and read the posts in full…and is anybody asks, tell ’em TVWriter™ sentcha, okay?

Meet Noah Hawley: ‘Fargo’ Showrunner And FX’s Insanely Productive Power Producer
by Orianna Schwindt

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Noah Hawley is an unassuming sort of guy, the kind of middle-aged white dude you pass in the grocery store without a second glance. He has two little kids in tow, the eyes of someone sleep-deprived — who isn’t these days? — a shirt collar slightly torn (or maybe it’s supposed to look that way) and sometimes glasses.

To look at him, you might not guess he’s one of the most in-demand writers of the day. Books, TV series, movies — you name it, Hawley is doing it….

BEHIND ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL COMEDY FORCES OF 2016 TV — MICHAELA WATKINS
by Kayla Cobb

michaela-watkins

 

Comedy is in a beautifully weird place when it comes to modern day television. The sad-com — comedies that have dramatic roots and unblinkingly confront heavy issues such as depression and divorce — have been on the rise, and one of the most tonally confusing comedies around is Hulu’s Casual. Structured and cast as a comedy series,Casual unflinchingly looks at the complicated relationships of its dimensional characters and how sex affects each of them….

On Making the TV Writers’ Rooms More Diverse
by Robin Thede

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I’m a black, female late-night comedy writer. Stop laughing, I’m serious. We exist.

We’re just super-rare. Like a helpful comment on a YouTube video. According to a recent Complex article, out of 155 writers currently working on the top-ten late-night shows, there are only EIGHT women of color. That’s about 5 percent. We MUST do better….

Finishing Something Is Better Than Waiting to Avoid a Mistake
by Eric Ravenscraft

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Putting off a project until you have all the details right seems like common sense. If you only feel that hesitation because you’re afraid to make a mistake, though, you’ll never actually finish.

As business site Entrepreneur explains, fear of mistakes leads to inaction. If you can’t finish a project until it’s flawless, you’ll never finish anything. Believing that you can actually avoid all mistakes is a delusion. Learn to accept that you’re going to screw up sometimes and pull the metaphorical trigger anyway….

Money Management for Freelance Creatives

This handy guide on how to manage our money if we ever make it satisfies our starving sweet spot:

metaphoricallyspeaking

by Kristin Wong

It’s hard enough to manage your money on a steady, regular income. When your income varies from month to month as someone who’s freelancing or self-employed, keeping your finances organized is even more of a pain. From my experience, you need a system. Set it up once, and it protects you forever. Here’s the system I use.

I’ve been a freelancer for several years now, and my clients have mostly been long-term, but there were some “feast or famine” months when I first started. Even now, my income can vary a few thousand dollars per month, especially if I’ve taken time off to go on vacation or something else pulls me from work.

Looking back, I made a few mistakes when I jumped into the freelance life. I had no idea just how different freelancing was from a regular, full-time job. Here are a few financial tasks I should have conquered beforehand:

  • Save twice as much for an emergency. I’ve always had an emergency fund, but I underestimated how big it should be when I switched to freelance. As you adjust to your new work situation something will inevitably come up: business expenses, taxes, health insurance, losing a client, and all the other perks of self-employment. My first year of freelancing, I depleted my emergency fund. It was scary.
  • Prepare for taxes and insurance. The main reason I drained my emergency fund was that I had no idea how much I owed in taxes. I was used to my employer taking out a portion of my paycheck, so I didn’t pay my own estimated taxes, which is what you’re supposed to do. The cost of health insurance also caught me off guard. (Mine is only $200 a month, which is nothing compared to other premiums.)
  • Keep a cushion for irregular expenses. When your income is unpredictable, the last thing you need are unpredictable expenses. You can get an idea of your irregular expenses if you look at your bank transactions from the past year, but something will always catch you by surprise, even if it’s just a business expense, like video editing software or a course you want to take. In addition to a bigger emergency fund, I should’ve kept a cushion to pay for expenses like these….

Read it all at Lifehacker