Back when I was a fulltime editor, the company I worked for was big on personal assessments and charting the developmental progress of its staff. All that stops when you go freelance, but you still need to find ways of challenging yourself. In May this year I wrote a list of goals and objectives for my writing career, and gave myself until May 2009 to achieve them. Six months on, it's time for a review of progress to date. How much progress have I made? Have my priorities changed since May? All good questions, worth considering. So here goes...
1. GET AN AGENT: I've written to a dozen agencies and half of them agreed to read one or more of my calling card scripts. I only started that process in the last two months. I waited until I have three different scripts I could send out, each designed to show my capabilities and - hopefully - my voice as a writer. Winning an international screenwriting award for my short film script has definitely helped my cause. No agent yet, but this objective is being actively pursued.
2. GET ANOTHER RADIO PLAY COMMISSIONED: Been full of good intentions but haven't progressed this beyond a few conversations with a radio producer. Need to set aside some paying gigs to devote creative head space to this project. Have got a bunch of ideas I want to develop, but need to step up and do that. Mostly, I've been talking the talk, but not walking the walk. Bad writer. Bad!
3. GET FIRST TV DRAMA CREDIT: Probably the toughest nut to crack among all my goals. Most of the past six months have been consumed by finishing my MA and paying the bills. Now the MA is done, I've been devoting much more energy of late to this objective. Made contact with key personnel on two continuing dramas, and am working my way towards consideration for a commission. But this is most definitely the long game, where patience is essential. Mark this down as being actively pursued.
4. CREATE TWO MORE TV PILOTS: Back in May I had the pilot script for my contemporary conspiracy thriller serial in good shape, and my short film script Danny's Toys. Otherwise, the cupboard was bare of calling card scripts. I've since written the pilot [and storylined seven more episodes] for a WWII continuing drama, and a 23-minute standalone TV drama script. But I need more, particularly stories aimed at ages 16-24. Some good work done here, but much more needed.
5. GET WORK EXPERIENCE IN STORYLINING OR SCRIPT EDITING: Didn't think I'd get far with this after one opportunity didn't come to pass, but have done more than I expected. Took part in the first storylining for continuing drama workshop run by the Script Factory in May and loved every second of the experience. More recently I spent a day with the Emmerdale story team, and learned a lot from that as well. Getting script editing experience is tougher, particularly in Scotland where there aren't that many openings. But I have been taken on as a reader by two agencies, so that's a step in the right direction. Actively being pursued.
6. GET ON ANOTHER SCRIPT WORKSHOP OR MENTORING SCHEME: Have to confess I've done bugger all about this. Almost every script workshop scheme like Moonstone is based on features, not TV where my enthusiasm lies. The only TV script workshop scheme I could find was run by Lighthouse, but that's on hiatus until it gets new funding. So, do I want to spend months developing a feature to get on a scheme, when I'd rather be writing TV? Or would having a feature calling card script add an extra dimension to my portfolio? Something to consider over the next six months.
And that's my goals and objectives report card for May-November 2007. I'm actively pursuing four out of six, reconsidering another and need to get some focus on the one I'm been mostly ignoring up until now. Still, not a bad effort for six months. Let's hope the next six months are just as productive, if not more so.