Writers are their own worst enemy.
As a Producer, I had no problem believing in my opinions on drama, on television writing, on scripts; why some worked and why some didn’t. I felt confident that I knew how to fix scripts that were not up to scratch and blissfully full of myself on how to bring a wide audience to watch the resulting drama on screen.
Then my career took an interesting turn and I set up www.scriptadvice.co.uk to help writers write better scripts. My self assurance has not deserted me. I find myself solid in my self-belief when writers come to me for help. ‘Here’, I say, (rather kindly I like to think) ‘let me sort this mess out for you’….And then there’s the workshops and short courses I run. You have to have a ton of self-confidence to not only run a successful course, but to actually enjoy running writing courses for paying writers.
You can be a stroppy lot you know.
And like in any walk of life, if you say you know what you are doing, woe betide you if you actually don’t. So I come prepared; armed with knowledge and a significant grounding in the techniques of television writing to impart to those that want to know. There’s no hiding when you do something like that.
But it’s ok you see, because I do not suffer from a lack of Self Esteem. Not in this scenario anyway….
But now we come to the crux of another matter entirely.
I also write myself. And this is where it gets messy very quickly.
Self-assurance; that calm, strong place you go to when you are certain of yourself and in what you believe, is Absolutely Absent when I begin the writing process.
I have the idea, (they come quickly and regularly; like sneezes; exploding into being when I am usually doing something mundane like polishing my son’s school shoes or un-gunking the kettle.) I will begin to think the thread of the idea over (this is the fun bit) it doesn’t feel real yet, so it won’t matter if it all melts into a nonsensical mush after half an hour of mulling. Then I will, (if the idea doesn’t reveal itself as being the exact same premise as something already on screen, or isn’t, by my probing, unveiled as the worst idea yet) commit it to treatment form.
I am still ok by the way, at this stage, on the Self-Esteem Front. Feel pretty fine actually. The hell is to come though.
The Treatment, as readers of my blog, and members of my group on Facebook will know, is the document I bang on about a lot. It sorts the rather rubbish ideas from the potentially really good ones. Get a good treatment written and you are half way there.
Here’s a blog of mine on how to approach the writing of Treatments. I also go into detail about the step outline and the episode outline, which are stages 2 and 3 before we get to the cliff face which is The First Draft.
And here we are. At that cliff face.
This is where my self-esteem takes a nose dive. A belly flop. A comedic slip on the banana skin of dignity and goes flying. And I am sure, many writers suffer the same humiliating collapse.
I think it is normal.
I know this to be true. So there isn’t any need to panic. Or beat yourself up about it.
You have come a fair way down the road to writing your first draft of this idea you had when you were stuck on the M25.
You have tested out the merits of your idea; its stories, characters, themes, and they pretty much stand up to the test of your scrutiny; so that should be enough. Surely?
The next stage is the true test. Writing the script.
Planning and plotting is taxing graft; can be really frustrating, not a little laborious (particularly if your script carries a complicated plotline, so in the planning of it you have to make sure you have begun the narrative process with character A and character C before character B is aware of what A and C knows etc) and in the end, this writing adds up to one thing.
Hard bloody work.
And you must begin this process (knowing what lies ahead) with all the confidence and self-belief you know you once had. Or must you?
The creative process is never straightforward and without that voice saying ‘Is this really interesting? Is this engaging? Do you know what you are doing here? Why should anyone care about this story, these characters?’ as you are writing, perhaps you would never make your script any better.
So I suggest that we should all listen to that dissenting voice; get a bit of a mad on and forge ahead anyway, inspite of the negative whine in one ear.
Annoyingly enough for me, my inner critic’s voice often sounds like a well known celebrity. Jane Horrocks harangued me throughout the writing of my first commissioned script and latterly, (because let’s face it, he can do just about anything) Benedict Cumberbatch is sniffing pithily as I write my series outline of an idea I am currently working on.
It is through the process of facing up to the doubter in you, that you will create a piece of writing that you truly believe in. And then….well, a lovely thing happens. Self-Esteem comes home.
This entity without which you are not truly happy, has been out for a long walk but is now back, muddy boots in the porch, fluffy slippers on and making a cuppa whilst you get on with your writing.
Here are a tasty few websites I rate highly and links to script writing competitions/initiatives that are a good way of getting firstly, your script written (you have to write to deadline) and secondly have your script read and assessed by people who not only care about writers and writing, but know what they are doing.
If you want my help in anything related to writing contact me: www.scriptadvice.co.uk
Join my group The Script Advice Writer’s Room: https://www.facebook.com/groups/scriptadvice/
Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/YVONNEGRACE1
Now, me and Mr Cumberbatch have a script to finish…..