Thursday, December 28, 2006

New Year's Resolutions for 2007

Making New Year's resolutions always feels like hanging out nuts out the window of a speeding car while driving past a pea-shooters and sling-shot users convention: you're tempting fate. Making New Year's resolutions and then publishing them on a blog: much the same as in the previous sentence, but you're painted a target on your testicles and given the conventions advance warning of your obscene passing. Still, everybody needs targets to shoot at and here are mine for the coming year.

Blog every day. Vicious Imagery recently sped past 600 posts to date, so one new post a day every day during 2007 should get me close to 1000 posts in total.

Complete my screenwriting MA - ideally, with Distinction. I've got 60 credits thus far, all achieved with distinction. Apparently that's good enough for a certificate of some sort - not unlike swimming 25 metres in your pyjammas - but I'd like to get the full MA. Never having been to university before, it's scratching an itch. The need for Distinction? It's the competitive streak in me, plus it'll be some sort of proof I have a future in the industry, however irrelevant having an MA in screenwriting is.

Write no novels between January and June. That may seem an odd resolution, as lots of people dream about getting a novel published. Trust me, the novelty wears off after the first 15 or 16. Writing a novel takes time and I want to concentrating on other things in the first half of 2007.

Write a novel or three between July and December. Having established two new series with my last two novels, I'd like to return to one or both of them next year, see how my characters are getting along, find out what's happening in their lives.

Worry less about money and concentrate more on writing. When you're freelance, it's awfully hard to turn down paying work. Bills keep coming whether or not you're earning, as last week's missive from the Inland Revenue Department will have brought home to plenty of freelancers nationwide. They want a four or five figure sum at the end of January, you're got credit card bills from Christmas to pay and the January sales have began, tempting you to spend when you should be scrimping and saving. But I don't want to spend another year taking on work simply to pay the bills, when it doesn't advance my career goals. I need to be working towards something greater than clearing an overdraft.

Get another radio play commissioned. The elphantine gestation period for radio drama in the UK means that even if I do get another commission, there's no guarantee it would be broadcast in 2007 - so securing the commission is a better, more achievable goal. Doing the radio drama writer's lab reinvigorated my enthusiasm for radio as a storytelling medium, and it's the perfect place for several of my ideas.

Get a TV drama broadcast credit. This is not going to be easy, and it's unlikely I'll get a writing credit within twelve months from where I am now - highly unlikely. But there are other ways to break into TV and I'll be pursuing as many as I can. I didn't do the TAPS script editing for TV wrokshop just to make myself a better writer, though it can't have hurt - I'm genuinely interested in working with other writers and helping them make their scripts better. That sounds a lot like the role of a script editor to me. Plus there's storylining for continuing series dramas. So, more than one way to skin a cat.

Finish the mentoring project with a good calling card pilot script to my credit. I want to get the most out of these nine months working under Adrian Mead's guidance and I'm not sure I've managed that so far, having been writing two 100,000 novels back-to-back while pursing numerous other opportunities. So, the remaining five months on the project are crucial [hence the no new novels resolution, above].

Finish my MA with a strong, feature length script to my credit. That's the final project on the course and what everything is working towards. Have I decided what my screenplay will be about yet? No, but that's probably a good thing, for now. Push will be coming to shove on that, soon enough.

Get an agent. I've bumbled along thus far without the aide of or need for an agent. Most of the books I've written have been under boilerplate contracts where terms rarely vary and for the sort of money that's hardly worth an agent's time or energy. But now I've starting to get some traction in radio and am hoping to pursue a career writing TV drama, securing the services of an agent will make me much more credible to production companies. There are working writers in TV who get by without an agent, but having one marks you out as a safer bet for script editors and executive producers. You have more credibility because somebody else within the profession have seen and acknowledged your expertise by agreeing to represent you. Get an agent and, hopefully, you'll get some meetings - the stone starts rolling. It's no guarantee of success or ever getting work, but it's a step in the right direction.

Take proper holidays. This year I had a week off in June and that was about it. A few days going to LA and back for a Doctor Who convention was not dissimilar to a holiday, but really that was about working and networking. Even the Christmas and New Year break hasn't been much of a break. I'm spending three days cutting and polishing my latest novel before reading the proofs for its predecessor, plus sorting out my study and getting all my work prepped for the New Year. To me a holiday has to be at least a week long, away from home and with no work packed in your bags. It's a chance to switch off, leave the creative batteries recharge and to savour your successes. That doesn't mean you don't have ideas on holiday, or that the subconscious isn't hard at work on your next project or four, but a holiday should be a conscious break from working. We all need to step back and relax every now and then, otherwise writing becomes just another job, a chore - and where's the joy in that?

1 comment:

AndrewT said...

Wow, you're the only person I know that's been to a Who convention. I don't know why but I'm chuffed at that one.

Oh and the only guy I know who paints a target on his nuts...

Hope Xmas was good and new year is even better.