Saturday, September 15, 2007

Best Laid Plans

One of the immutable truths of being a writer is that deadline is king. Obviously not for the writer, where story, character and theme get together and form a Government. But for the rest of the industry, especially TV, deadlines rule.

It is something you have to get used to. It doesn't matter that you waited two weeks for notes and get them at 8 o'clock on a Friday night when you were planning a weekend away. If they are shooting next week, then tough titty. Suck it up, find a way to get it done. And done well.

In UK TV there is no job more precarious than the writer. Even on soaps. Directors are hired for blocks of a series. Actors on fixed term contracts. Writers? With a few exceptions, those on guarantees, not many writers know where the next job is coming from. If the phone stops ringing that means you have no work.

So how do you break out of that cycle other than sleeping with the producer? Talent and perseverence. The same things that got you in to begin with. Other than sleeping with the producer of course.
A writing career and a careerist writer can be two very different things. I know a few writers who have done nothing but The Bill or Coronation Street for the last 10 years or more. That is a career. A very hard thing to do. Involving political skills, love of the show, adapatibility to new characters. A whole skill set in itself.

I know other writers who eschew serial drama and plough their own furrow. Some succesful some not. But that is a career too.

If all you want to do is to be paid to write then that is a careerist writer. If you want to write and still get paid for it, when it hits, then that is a writing career. Both are equally valid and equally difficult.

But the most important thing to remember is that after you have broken in, that is when the real hard work starts.


Lucy said...

I got an email from one of my Bang2writers who told me they went on holiday - first time in years and years - only to spend 6 of the 7 days in internet cafes rewriting an episode of a well-known prog. Damn! And then people say writing for soap is easy... hah.

While I'm here, do you know any producers I can sleep with to get a writing gig, please? I could always sleep with you too, if you want... ; )

English Dave said...


Are you talented or semi-talented and fit.

As you can guess, the former gets you a career. The latter gets you some nice dinners and one commission. Male or female, just write.

Lucy said...

I'm super talented AND fit... My Mam says so, so it must be true!