“I am absolutely loving your blog columns. Packed full of amazing guidance from first hand experience. Thanks Yvonne!” Kelly Veno Creative Consultant. Transmedia
I love to teach my television writing workshops. I am a natural born teller of how it’s done.
This could mean several things about me:
* I have years of experience and I am a generous soul who likes to share it
* I am a control freak whose way is the best way.
* I am nosey about writers and what makes them write the way they do.
* I am a social type who enjoys a good chat and a laugh
They all true are actually.
However, running my short courses and workshops, script editing my clients and passing on pages of notes week in week out, does not mean the information goes just one way.
No, here at Script Advice Towers there is a symbiotic relationship going on.
I have just come back from running a weekend workshop on TREATMENT WRITING FOR TELEVISION in Jersey, thanks to the support of the Jersey Arts Trust. I met fourteen writers, at varying levels of experience and covering a staggering age range of 15 years old to late 60’s.
Gathering around the table, the writers came, eager to learn; everyone supportive and interested in their fellow’s contribution and ‘take’ on the exercises I set.
There is a lot to take in on any workshop I run. I believe that information builds skill and practical usage of that information builds a career. So I put everyone that came on Saturday 5th October to the lovely hotel Banjo, in St Helier, pretty swiftly to work.
I run workshops on Treatment Writing, Story lining and Script Editing for television. People that come, do learn, but I do too.
I find that the way a novice writer approaches their writing, or day on a workshop is very revealing to note, as is the way in which the more experienced writers apply themselves to an edit session or a workshop attendance.
Some writers turn up in a flurry of paper, make tons of notes and talk a lot.
Others are armed with their laptop. They listen intently and speak only when they really feel it necessary.
There are the Jokers, the Laugh-Out-Louders, the Interrupters, the Timid, the Boisterous, the Wincers and the Moaners.
There are also the Pitchers. They are the worst sort. Don’t be one of those.
Around a table at any one time, there will be writers there who want to learn, who want to refresh, who want to develop their skill base. It is my job to make that process as enjoyable and informative as possible.
But I also need to keep learning. Because knowing stuff is one thing, (having learnt it in the first place and then applied it to the business of making television drama) passing it on successfully to diverse, unique, different people is another.
Everyone at the Jersey workshop was delightful. But that’s not always been the case.
Over the years I have learned to bury my own ego when delivering a workshop or a short course to a group of writers. This has taken time. (There was a lot of ego to bury!) And the process probably started during the years I was a Script Editor at BBC and then Granada Tv. Dealing with writers under the process of producing drafts of their episode under a time deadline teaches you really early on, to shelve your differences, your sometimes clashing approaches to the writing ethic, and set about getting the bloody job done.
But experienced, and novice writers alike, sometimes fall foul of the process and then no-one gets the experience they wanted.
Here are some key things to keep in mind when attending a workshop:
* Come ready to learn. Keep an open mind.
* Do not think you can use the workshop time to pitch your idea, or use the session to promote your own work.
* Be supportive of others’ work around the table. If you can’t be, don’t say anything.
* Avoid putting the workshop leader on the spot. You are not Jeremy Paxman, you are a writer who has paid to be taught something specific.
* Ask questions. Be inquisitive.
* Get involved. Try not to be shy with your ideas and contribute during group discussions.
Here are some of the things writers have said about my workshops:
Watch this space for future ones and please join me on twitter: https://twitter.com/YVONNEGRACE1 and my Script Advice Writer’s Room on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/237330119115/ to keep up with what I am up to and where I will be teaching next.