Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Being lazy tonight

I'm blowing off my writer's group tonight. In my defense, my work wasn't being read/given notes, and the things that ARE I've already given copious notes on in earlier drafts. I simply didn't get a chance to write up notes, and my going there would have been kinda pointless when I'd rather hang out at home and rest up so as not to catch Writress's cold (yeah, she's feeling a bit sick, and she's working long hours at the new job, which is going well by the way).

I think it comes down to a problem in the way the writer's group is run. Here's what I've learned: In many informal writer's groups, there's a temptation to turn things to a "let's just read what you have" model. People work at different paces sometimes, and some people might be going full steam ahead while others may need to rework their original idea. I get it. In fact, I had to drop an idea this time because it wasn't working and there were two other pilots out there just like it.

I think it's a mistake to go to that type of open group though. Originally, there are deadlines. Outline by X date. Teaser and Act 1 by Y date, etc... If you fell behind, you caught up. It gave definite deadlines, which help in motivation, and I think the notes are better because everyone is talking about how to work on a specific stage of their episode/pilot.

And since the aim of these sorts of groups is to prepare writers to get staffed in writer's rooms, I think the idea of enforcing deadlines is good, because that's the exact sort of pressure we'll be under once we work in an actual writer's room.

Some people view the group as an excuse to get their stuff read and get them staffed. That shouldn't be a part of the process. We should welcome notes by guest speakers, but not expect them to want to staff us from reading those early drafts. I say we focus on training us to be better writers and on getting good samples written, and once they are written, then do a major push to get agents, managers, and showrunners to read the finished samples.

I think my time tonight would be better spent reading old Castle scripts in anticipation of writing my spec, or working on my web series. Since our group is organized in this confusing way now that I won't be getting any benefit out of the meeting, I really shouldn't feel bad about not being there tonight.

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