Monday, 31 January 2011

How to Sit While Writing the Masterpiece

Since we have no choice but to spend hours with our heads bent over notebooks and scripts that we need to edit, or on the computer, this might be a useful site to look at. After years of miscellaneous treatment for my right shoulder, I came across it after my osteopath suggested I look up office ergonomics online.

The site I found was

Some of it I knew, as will you - the feet flat on the floor bit for example - but other bits, I didn't. Apparently the top of the monitor should be higher than eye level. I have never managed this, given my desk has been in many rooms, the desk itself has been many sizes and shapes and the computer keeps changing. But it seems obvious.

Now I just need to find something to sit it on!

I can't influence how well the work I do on the computer will be received, or how fantastic it will be (!?) but at least I can try to set the computer up right so I don't exacerbate existing muscle damage!

How to sit:
Home office set-up:

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

All Hale to the Scots...

Happy Rabbie Burns' Night everyone.

I dare you to print out one of his poems and make everyone you share a meal with tonight recite a verse in turn. Much whiskey permitted for older participants! (It helps!)

To get you started, the first verse of To a Mouse, written in 1785 when he was 26.

Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty
Wi bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murdering pattle.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Aimee Richardson: Punky Down syndrome media star...

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Aimee and Punky on RTE 1 tonight!

Aimee Richardson, the voice of 'Punky', the central character of my series, is going to be interviewed on the Saturday Night Show on RTE tonight.

Aimee has done a fantastic job and is also an ambassador for Down Syndrome Ireland, who have been behind the idea from the series since I first approached them in 2008/9 after I'd got some Irish Film Board development money.

At that stage, I wanted to make sure I was hitting the right tone with the series and they set up meetings for me with lots of Mums and their children. You have no idea how much research goes into a series like this!!!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Now it feels real...

The first three episodes of PUNKY are finished their sound edits beautifully; the title sequence is perfect, and now all the other episodes - at different stages of completion/ development are all falling into line behind.

They look fantastic, so congrats to all involved, especially to Monster Animation and the fantastic animators, and very especially to producer Gerard O'Rourke who had the vision to know this series would work...

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

A Writer's Skillset - part 2: Time Management

If the first skill is the Art of Making Time/ Making Do with Time, the second is managing it.

This is my task for 2011. I'm productive enough but I know I waste time and that's frustrating. I'd like to do other things and there never seems time. I'd like to finish projects I've put on hold for ever and see if they work. I'd like to get the projects that nearly there over the edge and furrowing out success for me in their different fields...

Time Management. Nobody mentioned un-sexy beast this when we dreamed of writing, did they?

I used to be great at it. Scarily great.

I blamed it on 13 years as a freelance journalist taking on far too much work for a whole range of very different people. I think I was pretty fantastic at it right up until I got pregnant. Even then it hung on, this wonderful skill I never fully appreciated, until my daughter was about six.

Since then, as life has become more full and interesting, my work schedule has become increasingly erratic. Heavy working periods when I achieve a phenomenal amount - I recognise them because my daughter wonders aloud why I've suddenly turned into a workaholic - and the scatty periods when not nearly enough seems to get done and time passes too quickly.

So 2011 is where I take control again. I will will check emails twice during my working day. I will keep the tasks that don't require all my brain or that are fun for when I have finished a body of work in another area, such as script-editing, story development, writing. I will make sure I have time to do mad brainstorming so my new idea will grow, and that I get projects finished ahead of deadlines without neglecting everything else. And I will have a new body of work to start sending out.

I will designate pockets of time each day/ week for
1. research, networking, reading scripts and blogs and websites full of tips (except the ones on procrastination!);
2. for chasing work and hounding my agent;
3. to read the projects I completed last year and do what needs to be done so they can be send off demanding respect and production/ publication!
4. And I will write every time there are five or ten minutes when I can without finding reasons why there isn't any point because five or ten minutes isn't enough.

And when the allotted spans of time are up in each area, I will switch, and switch again. The idea is that variety will ensure that when i return to each segment, I am hungry for the work.

And since part of this 'new me' is to do a blog once a week, you'll be able to see if it works!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

A Writers Skillset...

Two skills are essential if you really want to write.

One is that you will find time to write.

You will cancel an assortment of fun/ kind/ thoughtful things to do with/ for other people in order to write. The house will fall apart, your child will watch too much tv occasionally but you will write. You will step away from sitting with your family to watch meaningless - but comforting - tv to write and yet, somehow, keep time to eat together, walk together, talk somehow about all the important and unimportant things, and check homework!

Taking time for your writing takes courage and strength of character. Most of all, it takes self belief and somehow, from the experience of writing all my life, I know men tend to be far better at this. How many writer's life stories have you read where the (male) writer locks himself away, ignoring every demand for his attention until his writing day is done. Are there women - mothers - who can do this?!

At one point it seemed that every male writer I knew also had a wife who worked in a high power financial job and supported her husband. But I'm not sure I could cope with that either. And it doesn't seem to be true of Irish male writers.

So if you want to write, find five muinutes while waiting for a bus/a dentist/ life to get exciting again. Go to bed an hour early and script a few scenes just to get to the next stage. Brainstorm characters/ plot/ visuals while you walk.

Don't you love it when you HAVE to stop to scribble something down?! Here's my latest: Sweetmeat was a very misshapen dragon.

I guess you had to be there.

And because I've been told blogs should be short, I'll save the second half of this till my next one. So stop reading and go write for five minutes instead! About the colour blue. Your first childhood memory of feeling fear. Or just how you're feeling now...

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Competition deadlines...

And yes, competitions are a pain in the neck but they make useful deadlines, and once a script is ready then your choices are greater. More competitions, if it doesn't get shortlisted/ win the first; contacting producers to convince them it's their next big thing; or a rewrite to make it even better. At least it will be done.

Came across this site that might be useful: He has a 'calendar' panel on the right of the page listing all competition deadlines. The next two I've already mentioned but they're so close you can smell the sulphur: 15th Jan - Page International - and Blue Cat Fellini - 20th.

Could be useful, but check the rules. I've found a few I'm not eligible for because of I have about four hours of screened material. (In short, one feature, five non-verbal children's films of 15 mins, two episodes of soap and three shorts - one I've never seen and didn't know existed until I saw it on IMdB. I think they culled it from the feature and gave it the name of the leading character. If I could track down the producer, I could ask. Maybe that's a background task for this year!)

Let's all have a productive and satisfying writing year!

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Tentpoles and quadrants

Where have I been hiding? I've never come across either of these phrases in relation to scripts so I did a bit of a trawl and apparently, between them, they are exactly what everyone wants in a script:

Four quadrant: a movie that appeals to all four main demographic groups — young and old, male and female;

Tentpole : a film that ‘supports’ the other films on a studio’s slate financially and will be an almost guaranteed success;

Easy, huh?