Sunday, August 10, 2008

So, is it all about the writing - or not?

Michelle Lipton has kindly posted extracts from an article about what people advise those trying to break in at the medical drama series Casualty. [Read more here.] In the comments section we got into a discussion about whether or not great writing alone will get you a gig. Here's one of my contributions to the discussion...
So, is it all about the writing - or not?

Well, I guess there’s an element of dues paying to be done. On the Doctors mini-academy, everybody had paid their dues somewhere to get their shot - theatre, radio, novels, TV. People who had tried out, failed and come back for more

Sometimes I think writing is like getting a driving licence. Many people fail the practical first time of asking [I did, back before the dawn of time]. Does that make you a bad driver? No, just an inexperienced, nervous driver.

You want a licence, you go away, learn more, practice more, you take the test again.

The difference is look how many people have driving licences in Britain alone. Millions.

How many people write a broadcast episode of EastEnders, Casualty, Holby City in any given year? Maybe 100 in total. Another 100 on Doctors, at a wild, flailing guess.

So, no, I guess it’s not all about the writing, just like getting a licence isn’t all about the driving. It’s about the practice, the practical knowledge and experience - and all the other things that make a good driver, or a great writer.

Then there’s instinct, talent, being able to work and play well with others, and so many other things…

Still, nobody said it would be easy. Alas.


Kevin Levell said...

Again, your insights can be leveled at any form of creative endeavour.

Do your best, get some feedback, try harder, bear in mind all the things you've been told before and try again. Repeat as necessary until you're not just relying on luck... and the break will come!

Anonymous said...

It's not like they can kill you for trying or for being different or for messing up so...


they can't can they?