Saturday, March 31, 2007

Idles of March

And with the last 'un now submitted, my one-writing-pitch-a-day March is over.

I've still got eighteen to hear back from but otherwise the month went thisaway:

34 pitches
10 of this thing I don't want to say
8 contests
7 project proposals
6 writing samples
4 rewritten scripts
4 new internet radio scripts
2 newly written short scripts
2 bad mistakes
2 meetings
1 theatre workshop

But the headlines must be:

4 rejections


10 leads (basically yes, all 10 for further work or pitching invitations)


Wednesday, March 28, 2007


As in getting up off one.

We're almost at the end of March and I now know enough of what I'm doing to reveal my secret plan: I intended to spend March pitching and prodding at my scripwriting career. Every day, I decided, every single day in March I would enter a writing contest, send a sample to a producer, post or email a query letter angling to get to send a script to a producer, I would target a couple of TV agents (my current agent is solely for novels), or anything like that.

And though, as it happens, today was looking like the bleakest day of the whole tough, bloodied month, I found someone to pitch to - and got a response from an earlier pitch saying I could send a particular piece of material in. So that was two, I've got one outstanding writing gig to get right and I've got Friday full to the brim with meetings and workshops so even though it's only March 28, I know I've succeeded in this month plan.

You know pitching and submissions take a time so my aim was to get something out each day, I wasn't really that fussed whether I heard back from anyone. That's part of the reason for doing this: not only are you getting off your backside but you get so each day is another pitch to get done and you can barely remember yesterday's, let alone be too fussed if yesterday's ended in a rejection.

As of this moment, having posted out today's one about twenty minutes ago, I'm now waiting on responses to 19 things, which seems pretty good to me.

And otherwise, by the end of this month, I, the laziest man you'll ever meet, will have done:

32 pitches*
7 contests
4 rewritten scripts
2 newly written short scripts
4 new internet radio scripts (not part of the month's gig but written and performed)
6 full script writing samples to producers
7 proposals to producers
10 something I don't want to say but they count, honest
2 stupid mistakes that I also don't want to reveal

*one day I was asked for a script when I'd already done the day's pitch

And in return I'll have got:

3 rejections
6 leads
1 meeting
1 workshop
0 sleep

I also hope to have something in the BBC Radio 4 pre-offers round, but that depends how well I write March 31's job.

Yes, I'm telling you all this because I think it's good, but I'm also telling me so that I might do it again. Around March 15 when it was all going swimmingly, I thought about extending this into April but, as feeble as this sounds, I need to quit for a bit.

I just know that my backside is my problem, and it's spreading. So things like this month's plan might help me and definitely feel as if they're doing me some good. Funny: I thought I'd had more rejections. I was just after telling someone that I had more rejections and that the good thing was with this one-a-day gig, I wasn't fussed: I be disappointed yet ten minutes later I'd have to consult my list to even tell you which one it was who'd rejected me.

And rejections or success, I'm still going to feel glorious when I've sent out March 31st's pitch.

So what do you think? Do you want to try this yourself? Or if you already do it, have you got any advice?


Sunday, March 04, 2007

Turning to the weather


So if you read my last, did you decide you would never look back at any old material of yours? Because I thought I wouldn't. Too painful.

But you know where this is going, don't you? I'm trying to get some material out there: I'm planning a pitch or a submission every day in March and so far I'm doing brilliantly. March 1, 2, 3, easy. March 4... I'm struggling already. But there are a couple of international screenwriting competitions coming up and I've done encouragingly well in those before yet then lapsed for years. So partly because I want to un-lapse, partly because it's a Sunday so there's no one I can phone to pitch to, I'm planning to spend today getting a submission ready and, well, submitted online or something.

Only, all the comps I can find are for feature-length scripts. Everything I've done lately is either rubbish or hour-long, quite often both, so I've just braved it and had a arms-length dig through my very own slush pile.

I didn't say this to you last time because I was too embarrassed but that first script of mine was dated 1996. Eleven years I've been at this lark, it's not very impressive. But eleven years ago I was unimaginably bad. And I've just found an old piece that doesn't have a date but must be at least eight years old and it's actually really good. It's a piece called Embers.

You know there are things I want to change, of course, but Embers has good characters and it works. Suddenly the dialogue is good: it's as if there's a Tuesday some time when I learnt how to write dialogue. And I've said this often: if you can do dialogue, it papers over practically everything else you get wrong.

I'm a bit chastened that I didn't do anything with this piece at the time. Well, I obviously did, the copy I found had a "for the attn. of" bit on the title page and the name of some long-forgotten BBC drama executive. But I abandoned it too easily and I'm an idiot. You know, naturally, that once you've finished writing a piece you should go straight on to the next and I think I was actually so caught up in the idea for the next one that I let this piece go. If I can face it, I've got that next one right beside me to read now. If I can face it.

I'm currently rewriting that 1996 script as part of a bet, to do a rewrite or develop an old, long-held idea in 15 days. (I take part in a regular script challenge, the idea to keep you working, to give you deadlines, to make sure you end up with at least something written down instead of months of prevarication. The current challenge - hang on, I've forgotten how to do links - is with Christine Patton and Piers Beckley. By all accounts they're having a fine time reworking their stuff, I'm staring blankly at mine for hours at a time, wishing I had a dentist appointment.

And yet if I'd elected to rewrite Embers instead, I'd be delivering the rewrite this afternoon.

I might just change the names and pretend Embers is the old, bad one that I've brilliantly improved. What do you think?