The Writing Journal #21

March has always been one of my favourite months of the year. Part of that may be due to the fact that my birthday falls nicely in the middle of it, but also because it is the start of Spring and feels like a turning point in the year. There are many things I like about Winter (as some of you will know from my constant ravings in December about Christmas) but I can find it quite energy-sapping and motivationally-draining once the initial buzz of Christmas/New Year has worn off. Spring is naturally brighter and feels somehow more optimistic, even with “that which will not be named here” looming ominously on the month’s horizon.

The start of this March was also aided by a totally reinvigorating filmmaking event that I attended in Cardiff last Friday. Run by Ffilm Cymru, the Filmmaker Survival Day was a brilliant mix of talks, panels and meetings that gave a comprehensive look at many aspects of filmmaking, particularly in Wales, to a lively, enthusiastic, and friendly group of budding writers, directors, and producers. It’s the first time I have been to such a gathering since moving out of London, and it will certainly not be the last. It was a very important reminder, especially for writers, that there is a world of people like you beyond your keyboard that are all going through the same things that you are, which is incredibly grounding in such a relentless industry. Whether it’s an organised event by a body like Ffilm Cymru, or a coffee with other people from your field, getting together with fellow creatives is something that I would highly recommend to everyone, no matter where you fit on the experience spectrum.

As a new month begins, so an old one must end. Here’s how February’s writing goals panned out…

Target Number 1: Write 3 short stories

Status – ACHIEVED 😊

There was a period of time last week where I genuinely feared I may not be able to achieve this target. Every time I sat down to write the third story my brain refused to play ball. Everything I wrote seemed boring and contrived, the plot seemed to make little sense, and, once again, the little voice in my head kept telling me there were better uses for my time than these stories. Then, on Thursday, as I sat at my computer pulling my hair out, it hit me. These stories were still at the first draft stage, and the whole point of first drafts is that they’re not supposed to be good; they’re just supposed to exist. They are the marble from which you chisel your David. The lump of wood from which you carve your ornamental salad bowl. The words from which you craft a story. This is not a new epiphany – I’ve had it on every creative project I’ve ever completed – and yet, for some bizarre reason, I always seem to forget it at the start of each new one. Perhaps it is a rite of passage for every new idea, perhaps it’s a sign of my terrible short-term memory, but with said epiphany in mind, I was able to complete a third story in this collection and therefore meet the target by the skin of my teeth.

Target Number 2: Submit funding application

Status – ACHIEVED 😊

This declaration comes as no surprise to those who read last week’s Writing Journal. I’m just as pleased now as I was then to have it done and dusted, as it is a great opportunity to further my connections to the industry and develop those all-important external relationships. It’s very easy, as a writer, to retreat into the creative shell and create an illusion that you are furthering your career simply by writing more stuff. Whilst the writing is, of course, vitally important to your career as a writer (clue’s in the name), it is equally as important to remember the external relationships that sustain your career within the industry. As I touched on earlier, this message was further reinforced in Cardiff on Friday, so to have the application for this particular project now submitted feels like even more of a positive than it did when I hit send the first time around.

Target Number 3: Find five companies to pitch my sitcom project to.

Status – FAILED ☹

After last month’s research target seeming too vague and undefined, I deliberately worded this month’s in a much more specific way to make it easier to work towards. In the strictest sense, it’s worked; I don’t have a document on my hard drive listing five television production companies that might be strongly interested in my sitcom, hence I have failed in it. Does that mean the month has been an entire write off for my sitcom? No, not necessarily. The supporting documents are all now up to date and in a much healthier position than they ever have been before, and I do have a mental list of names that I am keen to contact as well. So, whilst this will officially go down in my own personal record books as a failure, it’s not all doom and gloom because of it.

So, as Meatloaf once sang, two outta three ain’t bad, especially when the third target was only a narrow miss. With February in the bag, it’s now time to turn my attentions to March and the projects I want to blossom in the Spring to come…

Target Number 1: Write two more short stories.

Despite the challenges in writing the three stories for this collection in February, there is a loud enough voice in my head telling me that there is something worth pursuing in this idea. Whether they would take the same form as I originally intended and stay as short stories in their own right is a debate for another day, but even if I do steer towards a different medium for them, the underlying stories will still be a useful foundation, and therefore something worth exploring more whilst they are at the front of my mind.

Target Number 2: Find 5 industry sources to pitch my sitcom project to.

No, this is not a copy and paste job gone wrong. It is a case of me adapting the old adage “if at first you don’t succeed, try again next month”. With the funding proposal sent and awaiting feedback, I should hopefully have more time to focus into proper research around this target, particularly with the wealth of new information I have acquired over the last few days. The slightly different wording reflects the fact that many of my current leads with the sitcom seem to revolve around individuals as opposed to companies; all of whom can enhance and improve the project as well as its chances of getting made. It would also be a shame to write off the work I did towards this same target last month purely for the sake of variety.

Target Number 3: Complete a visual mood board for my feature script.

This is something I’ve been meaning to finish for quite some time but have always found a reason to put off. It’s something I started working on in October last year but delayed in favour of writing and editing the script itself. Now that talks are starting to heat up again with regards to this project potentially seeking development and production funding, it seems like now is the time to crack on with it and finally see it through.

Much like a bed of spring bulbs, it feels like there’s an exciting amount of potential in my projects at the moment, waiting for the right conditions to bloom. A frosty March could still kill them off, and waiting for them to arrive can at times be excruciating and frustrating. However, with a little patience, luck and the distraction of planning for the next projects should these ones fall through, I’m (reasonably) confident that there will soon be new growth and a bright, colourful future ahead.

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