I started in television in 1990 when the world was analogue not digital and mobile phones were Bengal Tiger rare. The only ones I regularly saw were those used by the film crew on location to keep in touch with the production base and they were huge; breeze block, ridiculous, like-small-bungalow-huge.
Lots of innovations have come and gone in television production since then, but the way stories are constructed for the screen has not changed.
Here is my Evergreen list for television writers:
1/ Story telling is innate and natural to you because you are a writer. You must learn the craft of how to shape and construct your stories so the industry understands you and wants to work with you.
2/ Set clear goals to achieve within your writing journey. Aim at one single goal at a time; portion off your daily goal, one step at a time and stick to achieving the end result.
3/ Always be open to criticism as you progress through your writing career. Not everyone will share your opinion of your work, but television is essentially collaborative so giving and receiving criticism is necessary in order to progress. Time will teach you not only how to receive criticism well, but also how to give it.
4/ Be pragmatic in the face of success and failure – it’s the only way to be; in private you can gloat or grin inanely at yourself in the morning mirror, but to your public you are a professional writer who fights to keep standards high.
5/ If someone in the Industry has given you their time in what ever that way is, for however long it may be, never take that for granted. Always thank those that help you or work with you. Being curteous and considerate even under pressure makes a world of difference to those who’s job it is to make your script camera ready.
6/ You write alone, but it takes a whole team of people to make your script part of the on-going story you see on screen. Make this transition every time you leave your desk and come to the production office.
7/ Believe in yourself. Learn from those around you and stay in touch with what makes you want to write in the first place.
8/ Always find a way to have a laugh at least once a day. Do not get too hung up on your script. It’s very important but so is keeping sane when you are under deadline pressure from the production. Keep a balance in your life.
9/ Do not compare yourself to other writers. Writing is exposing. All writers have insecuritites and that goes for the successful ones too. You are different, and all writers learn and grow at different paces. Believe in your own talent.
10/ Television drama reaches millions of people like you, every day, day after day. To be part of this national process of story telling takes serious craft, self-belief and an appreciation of what makes us tick as people. Television writers are a solid, gifted, inspirational breed and if you want to join them, I sincerely hope there is a seat waiting for you around a Story Conference Table somewhere soon.
I help writers learn their craft here: www.scriptadvice.co.uk