Kelly Jo Brick: Highlights from the Los Angeles BinderCon

EDITOR’S NOTE: Big thanks to Kelly Jo for filling us in on something so much more important than its name makes it sound!

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by Kelly Jo Brick

IMG_1802-280x300Professional authors, screenwriters, journalists, poets, playwrights and TV writers gathered at UCLA for BinderCon, a conference developed to bring together and help advance women and gender non-conforming writers.

According to Co-Founder Leigh Stein, “We’re a community. We’re here to give you the tools, the strategies and the connections you need to advance your career. We specifically ask all our panel and workshop moderators to really focus on what do you want people to walk away with. What can they do on Monday, so it’s not just, be inspired all weekend, but it’s really about what you can do next. What’s the next step.”

Takeaways from the weekend include:

THE PROCESS OF CREATING – Keynote with Lisa Kudrow – Emmy Award-winning actress and Robin Schiff – writer/producer Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion

  • Have a clear vision of what it is that you want to do.
  • Be good at taking notes. Be secure enough to take outside input and feedback on your writing. Don’t be defensive. Be diplomatic. It’s not personal even though it may feel that way.
  • Meet kindred spirits. That can help sustain you through your whole career. It’s too hard to go through without people around you who you can be honest with and who you can mutually support.
  • Specificity is the key. Whether you’re pitching, writing or acting, it’s the specificity that really conveys the tone.
  • Write, write, write. If your work is good, it will get to someone who can help.
  • You gotta have the thickest skin. It’s not an easy road to pursue. You’re going to hear “no” over and over.
  • Be resilient. When you do experience rejection, think of how you can do it better next time.
  • Figure out who you are uniquely and write from there. If you’re good, you will get work.
  • Get out and live. That’s how you get the best input for your writing.

GETTING OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE/CREATING A DIVERSE CAREER – with author Pamela Redmond Satran, author of Younger, which has been turned into a Darren Star series on TV Land

  • Organize your time. Find what works best for you when it comes to allocating time for what you need to do to make a living versus working on creative projects you want to do for yourself.
  • Keep a regular focus on your writing. It’s generally better to spend one hour a day on a project than 10 hours on a Sunday. You stay more connected to your story and characters by working on it every day.
  • Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Connect with others and embrace the different avenues you can take with your writing.
  • Make friends with risk and rejection. Don’t take it personally, there’s a million reasons for being rejected, so don’t stop. This is what makes a big difference when it comes to who succeeds and who fails.
  • Be adaptable. The industry is always changing.
  • Do the thing you want to do, not that you have to do.
  • Just keep doing it. Keep putting one foot in front of the other and do the work.

ON WRITING PILOTS – with Liz Keyishian, freelance animation writer for Nickelodeon, PBS Kids and Disney Jr.

  • Be fresh, original and authentic
  • Write what you want to see
  • Let go of theories and formulas and just write. There is no one way to do it.
  • Being different is your best chance for success
  • This is a new frontier with so many buyers now in the market

THE NEED TO WRITE – Keynote with Jillian Lauren – author New York Times bestselling memoir, Some Girls: My Life in a Harem and the novel, Pretty and Rebecca Walker – author of memoirs Black, White and Jewish and Baby Love

  • We write our whole selves into existence one way or another.
  • If you find something so essential to you that you have to write it, you have to believe that it will be essential to other people too and there will be a place for it in the world.
  • The key to developing a long career is being sensitive to what’s happening in the market and in the community.
  • Writing is hard work. You deserve to be paid for your work. Don’t let others take advantage of your love for writing.
  • Follow your instincts when writing. Listen to what your gut is telling you.

    Kelly Jo Brick is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. She’s a television and documentary writer and producer, as well as a winner of Scriptapalooza TV and a Sundance Fellow. Read more about her HERE.