Drowning in telly, emailing your future, and the way I’m tackling my writing goals this year… Here’s some different things I’ve been thinking a lot about this past month. Maybe there’s something here to interest you too?
Argh! This is so late – here I was last post, patting myself on the back for keeping up with a monthly posting schedule, and it’s now 2021, and I’ve already fallen off the pace! A big part of the reason for that has been an unexpected uptick in work – which is great – but somewhat jarring when I thought I’d have a whole lot of quiet time to concentrate on personal projects. Clearly, after years of freelancing, I’m still clinging to the irrational idea that my life will be reasonably predictable. Ha! In any case, here’s a couple of things – and I promise I’ll be more together next post!
TOO MUCH TELEVISION
We’re all drowning in it, aren’t we? Even after a December and January soaking up the stuff, I still feel woefully behind. I know I spoke about this last post, but since then I did actually manage to watch a few new things…
Like almost everyone I know, I devoured Bridgerton in a day. Escapist popcorn that had me pinned to my couch, I enjoyed the performances, the melodrama, the many silly interludes, the pomp and the spectacle. I have no idea what brought about the tonally incongruous sex scenes and oddly abrupt ending, but whatever. Bring on Season 2!
The reign of Queen RuPaul continues to juggernaut it’s way through our popular imagination with a bazillion offshoots – RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 13, RuPaul’s Drag Race Holland, RuPaul’s Drag Race UK as well as all the Uncut episodes which give us the behind the scenes chit-chat, and now of course all the ‘filming through Covid’ specials…
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina released it’s fourth and final season at the very end of last year. If I’m honest, this last instalment felt perfunctory and rushed. I’ve come to love these characters and there’s so much imagination and fun at play, but it was hard not to feel like the plot was shoe-horned in, shortchanging a lot of character development and emotion. Having said that, there was some pretty amazing stuff going on – including an alternative universe where the Sabrina from this series encounters the Aunts from the 90s Sabrina the Teenage Witch series.
Others of note – thrilled that Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist has begun it’s second season, and excited by the direction it’s taken to tackle the subject of racism (albeit in a very upbeat, commercial way) for Zoey’s inner circle and in her workplace. Zoey’s character is proving to be an embarrassing, destructive and privileged white woman in all the worst senses and that was certainly not where I thought the show was going this season. It’s on a mid-season break right now, but super keen to see where this goes when it returns…
January saw the limited release of Chloë Grace Moretz vehicle Shadow In the Cloud. You don’t need me to tell you this film has had rather mixed reviews, but this monster action mash was enormous fun, even with its staggering midpoint tonal shift. It’s one of those so bad it’s good movies that was exactly the adrenalin fuelled laugh I needed. Find this and watch it with lots of friends and no expectations!
Late to the party but I finally got around to reading The Witches of New York. Again, it was yet more popcorn entertainment and I roared through with ease. Who doesn’t love a witch story, and set in 1880s New York to boot. Great fun.
WRITE TO YOUR FUTURE SELF
Do you know about this? I did not! Sent to me by a friend, the most excellent project Future Me has been around for years now, and is essentially a website which allows you to send yourself emails at some point in the future – a week, month, year from now, you’ll be sent the email you wrote to yourself through their site. And you can send as many as want! I wrote one immediately, but then stopped, wondering what it is that I should actually email myself. Do I use this as a sort of diary or confessional? Do I send myself enthusiastic cheerleading messages of hope and inspiration? Do I write about my sadness and pain only to force myself to relive it at a later date? What exactly does one write to themselves? I’m now contemplating ways I can use this wonderful project in some sort of constructive way but am stumped. Any thoughts will be greatly appreciated!
Grand plans and writing goals
I gave up on New Year’s Resolutions an eon ago. They don’t work and they just make me feel guilty and crap. What’s the point? I’m increasingly of the opinion you need to be gentle on yourself, and that means taking the time to work out what works best for you in order to achieve your goals. No one approach will ever work equally well for all of us.
This is a little tough to admit as a working screenwriter, but I kind of suck at writing my own stuff. While I am diligent and love a work deadline, I’ve found in the past that I’ve inevitably been too tired, strung out or overwhelmed when I’ve tried to tackle my own work after spending most of day thinking about and writing for my paid gigs. Despite my embarrassment, I know this must be a common phenomenon.
I came to a looming realisation last year that part of the issue was the way I think about my approach. I’ve kind of always assumed (dreamed? fantasised?) that I’d need chunks of time to really focus on a project in order to make any progress. As though if I never got a two week writing retreat in a cosy little cabin in the woods, I somehow wouldn’t get anywhere with any of those scripts I’ve always wanted to write. This is obviously hogwash. It’s not how I approach my paid writing, so why should I put all these extra constraints on my personal writing? I’ve been tinkering and planning a bunch of projects for years and getting nowhere because I wasn’t committing quality time to their progress in the main because I was under the misapprehension that ‘quality time’ equated to ‘week long blocks of dedicated time’.
The other unexpected realisation I had last year was just how productive I could be when I was writing with another person. Not as in writing together, but rather committing to meet up and work on our own stuff for a set period of time each week. People call this type of thing all sorts of names – writing sprints, write-ins, whatever – but by weird chance, a producer mate of mine and I started FaceTime-ing each other on weekends as a way to force ourselves to work on our own writing. We’d have a quick chat, grab ourselves a tea, then we’d mute each other, set a timer and off we’d go. We could see each other writing, which worked as a great motivator, but we actually weren’t working on anything even remotely related. What I think has been wonderful about this process is that we feel so encouraged and productive, but also supported. We’d talk through our intention for that session and then if we had time, discuss anything that we were stuck on or having trouble with. It was a kind of ‘friendly enforcement’.
This year, I have two clear personal writing goals, both of which I planted the seeds for last year. I thought about what I’d need to do to get them done based on how I usually approach (and fail) at these things, and am testing out new ways forward. As discussed above, the big thing I’ve learnt about myself is that one, I need to ditch the writing retreat fantasy and commit to writing regularly in short blocks of time, and two, I am very productive when I commit to working alongside other people. As such, my experiment is to set up a new writer’s group for myself – I’ll discuss it a lot further in my next post as we haven’t actually met up yet, but I can say that the plan is for it to be very goal oriented and project focussed rather than the kind of writer’s group that’s more about patting each other on the back and drinking wine (although I’m sure there will be a lot of that too). Fingers crossed this experiment proves fruitful! I will definitely let you know how I go.
Okay lovelies, till next time!