TV Writer and Producer, Jeremy Smith, joined us for lunch last week, despite being in the thick of prepping for Van Helsing season 4. We were all impressed with Jeremy’s productivity and the volume of work he manages to juggle so successfully. Jeremy’s advice for aspiring TV writers is to be a positive person in the room, and to foster those business relationships. As he puts it, “It’s not just how good you are at creating story. Relationships are a big part of it.” You need to be someone people want to be in the same room with for months at a time.
Thank you, Jeremy!
We’d like to thank writer and producer, Daegan Fryklind, for meeting up with the Scripted Story Lab writers over lunch this week.
The salads were way better than your average “platter of sandwiches,” but more importantly, we enjoyed hearing all that Daegan had to share about her experience working in both Canada and the States.
Along with entertaining anecdotes and some reassuring wisdom on the art of pitching, Daegan advised us to get to know our local screenwriting peers. As she puts it, we all have different strengths that can fit together in different ways in the room. It’s a small, tight, supportive community.
Thank You to Showrunner and Executive Producer, Robert C Cooper.
We would like to send a big thank you to Rob for his Q&A event. It was a sold-out show! Rob’s generous discussion on the nuts and bolts of creating a show based on historical events was informative to all the writers in the room.
Rob recently completed writing and producing Unspeakable, a limited series based on the Canadian Tainted Blood Tragedy, now airing on CBC. Previously, he served as showrunner on Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency for BBC America, Netflix, and AMC Studio. Rob is well known for his work as showrunner for the Stargate television franchise.
When one audience member asked Rob how his first-ever pitch went, Rob admitted that he wasn’t sure he remembered his very first pitch. He did recall his initial pitch to Stargate, early in his career. It mostly fell flat. It was only when he had exhausted his prepared material and he tossed out a few scraps of story ideas on a last desperate whim, that the show’s creator finally picked up his notepad and took an interest. The rest is history, so always give it everything you’ve got!
Thank you, Rob.
It’s a big deal just to protect your writing hours, and once you sit yourself down, there’s the little matter of getting your mind to focus on the work. In his book, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Work In A Distracted World, Cal Newport, suggests that rituals reduce friction and save mental energy, allowing you to move more quickly into a state of deep concentration. Using a writing routine ritual incorporating all five senses is a great hack for strengthening the power of your work habit and your focusing muscles.
Are you writing on the same computer screen that you use for checking Facebook or surfing the web? This mixed-use visual habit sends the wrong message to your brain. Consider placing a small personal item attached to your writing goals within your field of vision. Have it out only when you sit down to work. When your eye wanders, let it wander to the thing that reminds you of your intention.
Have some sort of auditory cue on hand to begin each writing session the same way. A short guided meditation track can be useful, or a song that gets you fired up. After you’ve played this “starting” piece, you can tune in to your preferred writing soundtrack, or a white noise source, and drill down to work.
These senses are so interlinked that I’ve joined them together. Maybe there’s a brand of mint you could carry with you for work sessions only. You could start each writing block brewing the same tea. Try to find something special that you can associate only with writing, but not so specialized that you will only be able to work at the one coffee shop in town that carries your chosen “writing trigger” blend of fair-trade pineapple rooibos.
Do you have something tactile that could be used as a cue get your mind back to your story? The old lucky rabbit foot trope comes to mind, but even twisting a ring on your finger a certain number of times, or setting your palms over your closed eyes for a count of ten would do the trick. You get the idea. Decide on something subtle if you don’t want to weird out your table mates. Or maybe you want to unnerve your neighbours? It is nice having a table to yourself.