Saturday, September 01, 2007


I set up a hotmail account a few weeks ago. I'd heard all the horror stories of pages of spam and junk arriving, but my inbox has so far remained largely untroubled. Strange, I thought. Then I noticed my junk box had about 40 entries. None of which I'd put there.

I investigated and - Great news! I'm going to be a millionaire many times over. A large number of people, mainly of West African origin, want to transfer millions of pounds to my bank account. The web is indeed a truly wonderful thing.

Yay to hotmail for apparently having a very good junk filter.

It occurs to me what a great thing that would be in a writer's brain. I go through a fairly rigorous process before I start writing. I mull the idea over, time and time again. Has it got legs? Do I love the premise? Do the characters speak to me? If it keeps saying yes, then I write it.

So how come I've got 3 half completed specs in the last 18 months or so, that I have no appetite for finishing?

Junk filter failure. It happens. You get into it and realise that deep down the idea was really just a brain fart, or from hunger, or trying to fill a brief. And you don't really, deep down in your heart of hearts CARE about it.

When I first started out I would have finished those specs and sent them out. Heck. I'd invested time and energy into them. This is a numbers game, and even if I'm not that happy with the final outcome, someone out there might like it. Getting material OUT THERE was the important thing.


That attitude won't help you break in, and it certainly won't help you stay in.

Getting as many GOOD SPECS out there as you can is the key. It is a numbers game, but not on your side. Quality counts way above volume. Don't be afraid to abandon work. If after due consideration and taking into account the normal paranoid 'is this any good?' that all writers go through, if your inner writer core is telling you it is crap, then it is. Maybe in six months or six years you will have a revelation that tells you how to make the spec work and you can always go back to it.

But never finish and send out a spec just because you started it. Finish it and send it out because the love is still there. Not the teenage lust, but the mature love despite the struggles.

And a good junk filter helps.

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