Writing On the Go: Writing While Driving Using Dictation

writing on the go

WRITING ON THE GO USING DICTATION IS NOT ONLY EASY, IT’S SMART.

If you’re like me, you spend an insanely inordinate amount of time sitting in traffic. [This is especially true if you live in Los Angeles.] Usually, I fill up this time with podcasts or audiobooks. However, it wasn’t until recently that I’ve been thinking about how I could use that time to write on the go? How can I work on a screenplay or teleplay while driving (without actually writing while driving and getting into a wreck)? That’s when I discovered that the NOTES app on my iPhone has a dictation feature!  Check it out below — see the little MICROPHONE button? Press that microphone button and start talking (on your phone, not the picture, dummie).

Writing on the go

Dictation isn’t perfect by any means.

The app gets a whole lot of words completely wrong. And it stops dictating after a paragraph or two for unknown reasons causing you to have to hit the little microphone button again and again (maybe it’s trying to catch up). And when I go back review the dictation, sometimes I have to try and figure out what I just said. But if I’m sitting in my car for 30min-1hour, it’s now entirely possible for me to hit that microphone button and start working out entire scenes in my head. I have figured out so many script problems over the past few months by doing this. I sit in traffic and talk through scenes out loud, while the dictation feature notes everything I say down for me. “What if this happens, no what about this, and then this could happen, and then this line of dialogue could happen.” It’s incredible how much work you can get done thinking out loud in a car for 30 min to an hour.

THINKING ON THE PAGE

Just like the process of “thinking on the page” (where you come up with ideas while writing, rather than coming up with ideas outside of writing), I find breaking scenes by talking out loud to be extremely productive. It FORCES you to work. When thinking about scenes in your head, it’s easy to give up or get distracted. But by thinking about scenes OUT LOUD (just like thinking out scenes while writing them), you’re actively doing something. You’re on a mission. Just keep talking and don’t let yourself stop. And record it ALL with dictation.  Half the time, I don’t even need to go back and read the dictation, because the process will give me the ideas I need to fix the problem or generate the right approach for the scene.

OTHER PROGRAMS

If you don’t have a dictation option on your phone (almost all phones have them now) you can check out some other devices that do the same thing.

It’s amazing what you can do in only 20-30 minutes while thinking outloud. Writing on the go. Give it a try!

Updates: Website Maintenance, SSL Certificates, and Name Servers

Updates SLL Nameservers

WEBSITE AND LIFE UPDATES:

A lot has happened since I let this website fall into the netherworld. Browsers are now blocking sites that don’t have SSL certificates, or at the very least, informing users that the website is not “secure.” I don’t know the finer details of how this all works, all I know is that many of you probably encountered some irritating warning over the past — who knows how long — that this website may be compromised, or not safe, or hacked by ISIS, or something of that nature. Rest assured, this website is completely safe, and the internet was just forcing me into buying an SSL certificate. It kind of feels like racketeering. But, whatevs. Now that I have acquired an SSL certificate, when you look up near the website name in your browser, depending on what browser you’re using, you should see a little “LOCK” icon, indicating this website is safe. Yay!

Another thing that happened while I was away … my host changed their name servers, and I still had this domain tied to the old name servers. This made it so a whole lot of people COULDN’T even access this website if they wanted to. Entire regions of the United States and parts of the world were locked out of visiting this site because of some crazy DNS “server not found” error. Anyway, I’ve switched us over to the new name servers, and that shouldn’t be a problem anymore. So if you’re seeing this website for the first time in a while, yay! It worked!

On the home front, I’ve finished up a pilot script and pitch document for a new show I’m developing. Right now that is in a holding pattern, as the project is in someone else’s hands for about a week. So, I’m looking at about a week of free time. What do I do? Besides trying to get this website back up and running, I’ve dusted off an old screenplay that’s been sitting on a shelf for two years. I have some big ideas on how to fix some of its many problems (problems that got me to shelve it in the first place). So I’m going to spend the next week rewriting that sucker and getting it into enough shape to send out for some notes.

This most significant problem with that script was the ending. And by that, I mean there was no ending. I wrote the entire screenplay, but because I got antsy during the outline, I never figured out the end before I started writing. So once I got to the ending, I got lost.  The other day I was driving in traffic on the ten freeway (or as I like to call it, FUCKING HELL) and the ending just popped into my head. Out of nowhere. Like, as if the story had been moving around in my head for the past two years without me knowing. Now I have an ending. So I’m going to write it.

In other news, the comic book pitch I’ve been working on is coming along nicely. Art is done. Color is almost done. Then I just have to ship it off to the letterer and finish up the pitch doc, and that sucker will be ready to send out.

Anyway. If anyone has any questions about getting a job as a production assistant or as a writer or anything like that, shoot me a question via the “ASK ME A QUESTION” link in the top menu.

Writing Sample: Write an Original Pilot or Spec of Existing TV Show?

Part of trying to get work as a TV writer (or any writing job) is having an excellent writing sample. A writing sample is a script you wrote that shows off your skills. It shows off your voice. It’s your calling card. You need a strong writing sample to get a writing job (and you should preferably have two,  in different genres). But should you write a TV Pilot or Spec Script?

When it comes to television, you have the choice of writing an original pilot episode (the first episode of a television show) or a spec (speculative) episode of an existing show. This doesn’t mean you should write a spec episode of the show you want to write for (because many shows legally cannot read spec episodes of their own show), but instead, you should write a spec episode for a show that is in the same genre you want to write in. For example, back in the day, you could write a spec X-Files episode to try and get a job on Buffy or another genre show. Now, before you start cooking up the perfect “Game of Thrones” episode — just STOP. Because no one wants to read spec episodes of existing shows anymore.

I shouldn’t say NO ONE, because I’ve heard many interviews with writers and showrunners who WISH people still wanted to read specs for existing shows, but that is not the case anymore. The reason these few writers and showrunners wish this is because when you’re a writer on a TV show, you’re working for a SHOWRUNNER. And in most cases, that showrunner is the person who created the show. Your job is not to write your vision in your voice, your job is to write FOR the showrunner’s vision and emulate the showrunner’s voice. Writing a spec sample for an existing tv show will give the showrunner a sense of how good you can emulate an existing shows voice. How well you can capture existing character’s voices. But alas, that is not the world we live in today.

There has been a shift over the past few years, and now everyone (and by everyone I mostly mean agents and managers) only want to read ORIGINAL MATERIAL. That means if you’re trying to become a TV writer, you need to write an original pilot episode. This is much harder than writing an existing show. You have the create everything. Characters, Setting, Plot, Theme. You’ve got to do it all. And it has to be great. It has to be engaging. And it has to have LEGS. That is to say, the reader has to see the potential for this single episode to turn into multiple seasons.

There are multiple reasons why people want to read original pilots these days. First, they want to see what YOUR original voice is. They want to see if your voice lends itself to their TV show. And because writing a pilot is so much harder, it also sets the bar for quality much higher. Another big reason is that agents and managers can not only use an original pilot as a writing sample, they can try and SELL IT (and I think this is probably the biggest reason this trend started).

So there you have it. Writing a spec of an original show is a complete waste of time because nobody gives a shit anymore. So go off and write a pilot! Good luck! You’re gonna need it.

How to Become a Television Writer

Please excuse the click-bait title. There are a million different ways to become a television writer. There is no right or wrong way to approach this career path. I can only tell you, from my experience, how best to become a television writer.

HOW TO BECOME A TELEVISION WRITER

The first thing you have to do if you want to become a television writer is move to Los Angeles.

If you are unwilling to move to Los Angeles, you can pretty much kiss your dreams of becoming a TV writer goodbye. Why? Because 99.99% of writers’ rooms are located in Los Angeles.

What is a writers’ room you ask?

The vast majority of television shows are written by more than one person. The episodes are “broken” by a group of writers who all sit in a room together every day. They wake up in the morning, drive to work, sit in a room, and come up with story ideas for the episodes as a group. So even if a show SHOOTS in Atlanta, New York, or Vancouver, the writers’ room is in Los Angeles. Also, all the agents and managers and production companies are in Los Angeles. Everyone you need to KNOW to get a job and all the MEETINGS you will take are all in Los Angeles. It is possible (but not probable) to become a screenwriter writing movies not living in LA, but it’s near impossible to become a TV writer if you don’t live in LA. There are some tiny exceptions, but the vast majority of writers’ rooms are in LA.

Now, the #1 way to get a writing job in TV is by knowing someone who will champion your work and fight for you to get a job in a very competitive field.

This means meeting people and building relationships. It kind of works the same way that it works when trying to become a production assistant. There are tiers of hiring. The first person someone wants to hire is someone they have worked with before and enjoy working with. If that person is not available, the next person they hire is someone recommended by someone they like and trust. The very last person someone hires is a random person they’ve never met.

Now, when it comes to a writing job, unlike a production assistant job, your writing samples (original scripts) play a factor in everything.

If you have a fantastic writing sample, it can open doors for you.  But, the sad truth is that it doesn’t play as big a factor as you may think. I know PLENTY of people who have become television writers who are not very good writers. But, to be honest, no one expects a staff writer (the entry-level tv writing job) to be a great writer. The VAST majority of staff writer jobs go to showrunner/producer assistants, writers’ assistants, writers’ PAs, and diversity hires. This is because a lot of writers like to “keep it in the family” and promote from within. YOUR job is to try and gain entry into one of those families by working from the bottom up as an assistant.

What is a diversity hire you ask?

Most writers’ rooms are full of white men because for a long time white men were the majority of people writing TV shows. But now there is a gigantic push to diversify writing rooms, so, in many cases, the NETWORK will PAY for that diverse writer. It’s a free writer for the show. And even if they don’t pay for that writer, they lay down a mandate. You HAVE to have a diverse writer on your staff. Which, to be honest, I think is a GOOD THING in theory, but it’s kind of turned into a total shit show.

These networks don’t GIVE A SHIT about actually diversifying writers’ rooms. I’ve seen it first hand. They only care about what the media will say if they don’t diversify a writers’ room. And their bosses are breathing down their necks to diversify writers’ rooms because there is a large public outcry to diversify writers’ rooms (for a good reason).

So these networks, in some cases, basically pay a show to hire a woman or person of color. But most shows aren’t hiring diverse writers for upper and med level writing jobs (TV writing jobs that go to writers with more TV producing experience, they pay more, etc.). These shows are only hiring diverse writers for entry-level writing jobs. Staff writer jobs. (THIS IS THE PROBLEM). This means if you’re a woman or person of color trying to get a TV job as a low-level staff writer, you odds have VASTLY improved. If you’re a white male, your odds of landing a staff writer job have VASTLY decreased. However, if you’re a woman or person of color trying to get a med to high-level writing job, your odds are still very low. And if you’re a white male trying to get a med to high-level writing job, your odds are pretty much the same as before the diversity mandate. And people will argue this point until they’re blue in the face, but it’s true.

Maybe only hiring minority staff writers is the single way to get diverse writers the experience they need to become med and high-level writers. I don’t claim to have the answer, but it doesn’t FEEL right.

Also, showrunners aren’t promoting their diversity hires (There are multiple positions as a TV writer, each promotion comes with more pay and more responsibility). These showrunners keep the diversity hires as staff writers (entry-level, low paying writers) or fire them after one season, and then hire on a new diversity hire staff writer.  So now we have a system that only employs low-level diversity hires. The same system doesn’t promote these low-level diversity hires, because all the med to high-level writers making the hiring decisions ARE ALL WHITE MALES. They’ll be fine. It’s not their jobs in jeopardy. They just run these diversity hires through a meat-grinder and never promote them.

Anyway, I’ll get off my soapbox now.

So you’ve moved to Los Angeles and now need to start making connections.

The best way to do this is by grabbing up any entry-level entertainment industry job you can find. Work as a production assistant, work as a producer’s assistant. Try to get work anywhere where you can start meeting writers and producers. (And if you’re wondering what a PA is and how to get a job as one, read the rest of my blog. Check out the Tips for PAs section…)

The best thing you could do is land a writers’ assistant job or a writers’ PA job.

However, these jobs are very hard to come by. You want to start forming personal relationships with writers and people who have the clout to make moves in the industry. People who have friends in high places. And the best way to do that is to work on TV shows or in production companies that produce TV.

What do you do once you have these friends?

Let them know you’re a writer and that you want a TV writing job — and get them to read your fantastic script!

That’s right; if you want to be a writer, you have to fucking write… who knew!?

The entire time you’re out in LA schmoozing around and making connections, you HAVE to be writing. Constantly. The only way you can improve your writing ability is by writing. And no manager or agency is going to take you on as a client unless you have material they can sell. This is a business. You are a product. If you follow my advice, there WILL be a time when someone who has the connections to get you a job will ask, “Oh, you want to be a writer? Let me read your script.” And if you haven’t done your job and written that brilliant script, you’ll have nothing to say and nothing to give them. Your opportunity just walked out the door. Sucks to be you.

Once you have the best script you’ve ever written, that you think is on par or better than every script you’ve read that is selling these days, then you try and get that influential person you know to read it. Maybe they’ll help you out. If they’re a showrunner, perhaps they’ll hire you on as a writer or writers’ assistant or writer’s PA on their show. Or maybe they’ll send that script over to another showrunner. Or maybe they’ll help you get representation.

Agents and managers are much more likely to read a script recommended by someone they know and trust than from some random person like you.

The HARSH truth is, most new writers have to get their first job, and even their second job, by themselves! Agents and managers have a tough job trying to staff a new writer. Your first writing jobs are going to be gained solely through relationships YOU make while working in Los Angeles.

So in short.

1. MOVE TO LA.
2. FIND ENTRY LEVEL JOBS.
3. MEET PEOPLE AND MAKE FRIENDS.
4. WRITE YOUR ASS OFF.
5. GET YOUR NEW INFLUENTIAL FRIENDS TO READ YOUR SCRIPT AND CHAMPION YOUR WORK LANDING YOU REPRESENTATION OR A JOB.

There are a million things I could talk about within this topic, so ask away in the comments, or shoot me an email via the ASK ME A QUESTION button at the top of the page and I’ll be happy to answer if I get to it.

Uncommon Words: Part Two (The Last Colony)

Welcome back to another article of “Uncommon Words” featuring exciting words I find in fiction. These articles feature words that I don’t use very often (if ever) along with their definitions and how they are used in the book. I will try to avoid any book spoilers by replacing them with dashes. I am doing this in the hope that I will start using more of these words in my writing. Let’s build our vocabulary together!

This article will feature a few words I found in “The Last Colony” which is book 3 in “The Old Man’s War Trilogy” by John Scalzi. Not as many as I found in the last book, but some good ones in here.

THE LAST COLONY:

    • rictus. n. fixed grimace or grin.
      • Usage in book: “Hickory’s smile passed from ghastly into rictus territory.”
    • provisional. adj. arranged or existing for the present, possibly to be changed later.
      • Usage in book: “I’m provisionally wrong about the Mennonites,” Jane said, looking back to me.”
    • ostensibly. adv. apparently or purportedly, but perhaps not actually.
      • Usage in book: “This was ostensibly a research trip for me and Jane and selected colonists, to recon our colony site and to learn more about the planet.”
    • perambulate. v. walk or travel through or around (a place or area), esp. for pleasure and in a leisurely way.
      • Usage in book: “Out of the corner of my eye I saw Beata Novik, his camerawoman, do her slow perambulation.
    • wry. adj. using or expressing dry, esp. mocking, humor.
      • Usage in book: “Rybicki grinned wryly, and tossed his sorghum to the ground.”
    • ostentatious. adj. characterized by vulgar or pretentious display; designed to impress or attract notice.
      • Usage in book: “No one in town had a floater; they were ostentatious and impractical for a farming community.”
    • ombudsman. n. an official appointed to investigate individuals’ complaints against maladministration, esp. that of public authorities.
      • Usage in book. “I was offered the position of village ombudsman, which I took, and was surprised on the first day of work to find Savitri there, telling me that she was going to be my…”
    • apparatchik. n. Derogatory or Humorous. An official in a large organization, typically a political one.
      • Usage in book: “The planet is called Huckleberry, named no doubt by some Twain-loving apparatchik of the Colonial Union.”

Writer Tip: THE INTERCUT aka WRITING PHONE CONVERSATIONS

Writing Phone Conversations

This article will teach you how to write an intercut in a screenplay or teleplay.

Say you have a scene in your screenplay where there are two sides of a conversation (such as a PHONE CALL), or two different scenes happening at the same time, and you don’t want to write sluglines for every scene, you intercut. It looks a little bit like this.

INT. HOUSE – DAY

The phone rings. John picks it up.

JOHN
Hello?

EXT. PARK – DAY

Mary is on the phone looking at the dead dog floating in the pond.

MARY
I think I found your dog.

INTERCUT JOHN/MARY

JOHN
What!? Where?

MARY
At the park —

John grabs his keys off the counter.

JOHN
Stay there! I’m coming–

MARY
–John wait.

John stops at the door.

Mary turns away from the pond in disgust.

MARY
John, he’s dead.

We hold on John’s face and CUT TO:

There you go, a terrible little scene I pulled out of my ass. Can you imagine if you had to write a slugline for every single side of the conversation! That would be terrible!

Not go forth young writers and write many a phone conversation.

Writer Tip: How to get an Agent or Manager’s Email Address for a Query Letter

So, you have a screenplay, and you want to try and get it to an agent or manager, but you don’t have their email address? This article will teach you how to get an agent or manager’s email address.

All it takes a little internet sleuthing.  But you should know there is 99.99% chance no one will respond to your cold query email. I have probably sent out over 50 query letters to agents and managers in the past five years, and the only time I’ve gotten a response was once I already had some success in the business. Only then did a few of these guys start responding to my emails. And even then, most still don’t. So, in complete honesty, I’d advise AGAINST sending an agent or manager a query letter until you’re already working in the industry and have some success to gauge their interest. Even then, it probably won’t do you any good.

To start, you need two things.

You need to get an agent or manager’s name that you want to contact, and you need the company’s email address.

If you don’t even know WHO you want to contact, go figure that out.

HOW TO FIND THE COMPANY EMAIL ADDRESS:

Okay, say you’re looking for an agent named “Jane Doe” who works at an agency named “Big Agency.”  Go to the “Big Agency” website and see if they have an email address listed there. Usually, this email will look something like “info@bigagency.com”.  Now you know the company’s email address is “@bigagency.com.”  If you can’t find it on the website, head on over pro.imdb.com and register for a free 30-day account, or pay for an account (you can always cancel it later).  Once you’re on IMBD PRO, type in the agency’s name, go to the agency’s page, and navigate to the contact section. It should list their general email address.

HOW TO GET AN AGENT OR MANAGER’S EMAIL ADDRESS.

If you’re already on IMDB PRO, you might as well look up that agent or manager and check their contact info. A lot of agents and managers will have their email listed, but if they don’t, search all the agents or managers in that company until you find one that has their email addresses listed, any of them. If this doesn’t work, go to google and search “@bigagency.com” (with the quotes) and SOMEONE’s email address should show up. You’re just looking for anyone who works at the company.

So say you’re looking for “Jane Doe’s” email, but all you can find is “Bob Kent’s” email address, which just happens to be “bkent@bigagency.com” — then you can probably deduce that Jane Doe’s email address is “jdoe@bigagency.com.” This works 99% of the time. Companies, for the most part, always stick to the same email structure. The first letter of their first name followed by their last name, or their first name followed by the first letter of their last name… etc.

And if you want further proof you have the correct email address, just search “jdoe@bigagency.com” in google. Chances are, that email will be listed somewhere on the internet. I’ve found managers and agent’s emails listed in “contact” forms on b-list actor’s websites. I’ve even found them in the leaked hacked Sony emails. All searchable on google.

So go off young padawans, and send emails to agents and managers. Annoying them and never getting a response.

HOT TIP: NEVER, I repeat, NEVER actually send your script to someone unless they ask for it. EVERY SINGLE COMPANY in this INDUSTRY has a strict policy of not accepting unsolicited scripts. If you have an attachment on your email, that is a surefire way to NEVER get a response.  What you want to do is quickly describe you and your story, and then ask them if they’d like to read it. Only if they respond asking for your script do you send it over. And half the time they’ll have you sign a release form first.

Uncommon Words: Part One (The Ghost Brigades)

This article is the first of a new series of articles featuring interesting and uncommon words I find in fiction.

These articles will specifically feature words that I don’t use very often (if ever) along with their definitions and how they are used in the book. I will try to avoid any spoilers by replacing them with dashes. I am doing this in the hope that I will start using more of these words in my writing. Let’s build our vocabulary together!

This article will feature a few words I found in “The Ghost Brigades” which is book 2 in “The Old Man’s War Trilogy” by John Scalzi.

You can also check out Uncommon Words Part 2.

THE GHOST BRIGADES:

  • mirthless. adj. (of a smile or laugh) lacking real amusement and typically expressing irony.
    • Usage in book: “Sagan allowed herself a moment of mirthless amusement at the fact that her mind-reading ability, so secret and classified, was also completely useless to her.”
  • progenitor. n. a person or thing from which a person, animal, or plant is descended or originates; an ancestor or parent.
    • Usage in book: “If she came across —-, she would need to make a quick determination whether he was useful or if he had gone traitor like his progenitor.
  • attenuatedadj. unnaturally thin. <SPECIAL USAGE> weakened in force or effect.
    • Usage in book: “The noise of their engines attenuated away, leaving nothing but the ambient sounds of nature behind.”
  • gambolv. run or jump about playfully.
    • Usage in book: “You will stay,” it said, and gamboled off before Sagan could say anything.” 
  • trill. n. a quavering or vibratory sound, esp. a rapid alternation of sung or played notes. <SPECIAL USAGE> the pronunciation of a consonant esp. r, with rapid vibration of the tongue against the hard or soft palate or the uvula. or v. produce a quavering or warbling sound.
    • Usage in book: “The head Obin turned and trilled something.”
  • eschatology. n. the part of theology concerned with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind.
    • Usage in book: “…it seemed unlikely to him that a people so concerned with the ineffable and eschatological would create a people incapable of…” 
  • ineffable. adj. too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words. <SPECIAL USAGE> not to be uttered.
    • Usage in book: “…it seemed unlikely to him that a people so concerned with the ineffable and eschatological would create a people incapable of…” 
  • putative. adj. generally considered or reputed to be.
    • Usage in book: “The other interesting thing about the Obin — which made their putative alliance with…” 
  • acquisitive. adj. excessively interested in acquiring money or material things.
    • Usage in book: “The one saving grace about the Obin was that they were not particularly acquisitive as starfaring races went.”
  • gird. v. encircle (a person or part of the body) with a belt or band. <SPECIAL USAGE> secure (a garment or sword) on the body with a belt or band. or surround; encircle.
    • Usage in book: “Jared noted the sudden and impressively disconcerting appearance of a broad system of rings less than a klick above his point of view, girding the limb of a blue…” 
  • subsume. v. (often be subsumed) include or absorb (something) in something else.
    • Usage in book: “All the Special Forces training and development subsumed individual choice to the needs of the squad or platoon; even integration…” 
  • vaunt. v. boast about or praise (something), esp. excessively.
    • Usage in book: “‘Ah, the vaunted Special Forces snotty, attitude,” Mattson said.”
  • dissonance. n. lack of harmony among musical notes. <SPECIAL USAGE> a tension or clash resulting from the combination of two disharmonious or unsuitable elements.
    • Usage in book: “Jared was struck immobile by the cognitive dissonance of having a —- in his lab, and through the confusion came a knife-like frisson of fear …”
  • internecine. adj. destructive to both sides in a conflict.
    • Usage in book: “If the tribes knew an heir was sterile, they would not wait for the natural span of the heir’s life to begin their internecine warfare.”
  • incredulous. adj. unwilling or unable to believe something.
    • Usage in book: “Daniel Harvey gave a look of sheer incredulousness, and Jared was reminded…” 
  • tripartite. adj. consisting of three parts.
    • Usage in book: “…their tripartite plan to attack humanity.”
  • diffident. adj. modest or shy because of a lack of self-confidence.
    • Usage in book: “Other members of the platoon were diffidently polite when forced to be but otherwise ignored the two of them whenever possible.”
  • implacable. adj. unable to be placated. <SPECIAL USEAGE> relentless; unstoppable.
    • Usage in book: “This universe is implacable…”
  • gestalt. n. an organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts.
    • Usage in book: “Presently it coalesced into one big idea, a gestalt that allowed him to respond.”
  • adjutant. n. a military officer who acts as an administrative assistant to a senior officer.
    • Usage in book. “The colonel here doesn’t particularly like me, either, and he’s my adjutant.” 
  • bolus. n. a small rounded mass of a substance, esp. of chewed food at the moment of swallowing. <SPECIAL USAGE> a type of large pill used in veterinary medicine.
    • Usage in book: “…enough remained to impact the planet’s surface, the flaming bolus smacking hard and fast onto a plain of rock…”

Staff Writer Jerb… take 2.

Hello, long lost readers.

Someone told me to update this site. So that’s what I’m doing.

I wrote a post called “Staff Writer Job” or “Staff Writer Jerb” last year sometime. But then it disappeared. I don’t know if it was some server error. Or If some cache widget on this website that I haven’t updated in years is now deleting everything I post… we’ll see if this new post sticks around.

Anyways, the gist of the post was to inform you all (all seven of you) that I got a staff writer job on a real-life television show. It actually happened. I actually got paid to write something. Does that make me a writer now? Can I call myself that? I guess since I’m in the WGA it’s real… but it still feels weird. You know?  But listen, take this as a grain of hope in your otherwise dreary, fucked up lives. THIS IS PROOF YOU CAN FUCKING DO THIS. I came from BUMFUCK Tennessee. There were COWS — fucking COWS — on all sides of my house growing up. And roughly 7 or 8 (who’s counting) years after kissing that humidity laden shit-hole goodbye (I’ve actually come to miss it) and moving to LA, I got paid to write on a real-life television show. That was shown on a real-life TV channel. Millions, literally millions of people, watched the episode I wrote. And I got here through nothing but hard work and a little luck (that I set myself up for). So… all you haters can go jump off a bridge. It is possible. Just keep working. It can be done.

Can I get an amen?

Anyway.

I logged into the email account associated with this website to answer some old reader questions that I was sure had stacked up over the past year… only to learn that all reader questions have been getting sent into my SPAM folder and were automatically deleted after 30 days.

So that’s nice…

If you have any questions about writing, becoming a writer, breaking into the film industry, or whatever, just shoot me an email on the contact form, and I’ll try and get to them. I put some alerts on my phone, so I can catch your email before it goes into the spam folder… hopefully.

Maybe I’ll think of something to write here in the meantime (I always say that and it never happens)…

What’s happened since we last talked…

Hmm…

My stint as a staff writer is now over. So I’m on the hunt for more work. Writing as much as I can. Feels like being a PA all over again. Sitting alone… no prospects. Waiting for opportunity to strike.

I’ve delved into comic book writing as well… Which is a fun change of pace. Hopefully, that will turn into something positive. Or not.

Moving from a struggling assistant to a struggling writer has taught me one thing… not to expect anything. If something happens, it happens. That doesn’t mean I’m not going work hard. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to keep writing my ass off… it just means… I have now started looking at it like… well, like a job. My job is to create shit in a vacuum and then send it out and hope someone likes it. I guess the difference is I’m not expecting anyone to like it anymore. I think, if anything, I now expect everyone to hate it. So when someone does like it, it’s sort of a surprise. I guess it’s some sort of coping mechanism.

A quote I read recently in an interview with Noah Hawley keeps coming back to me. Something about… 10 people turned down his script, so it was a bad script, but then the 11th person bought his script, so all of a sudden it was a good script. I feel like that quote pretty much sums up this industry. Nothing means anything. Nobody knows anything. It’s just a bunch of monkeys living in fear, throwing shit at the walls to see what sticks. I just need to find that one monkey who likes the smell of my shit and thinks it’s sticky enough for them.

My credit card was stolen again. It keeps happening. It’s like the 5th time in 2 years. I wonder if there is a hacker on my computer reading this right now.

Are blogs even a thing anymore? They seem so … archaic … in this age of Twitter and Podcasts. Who reads this website? Who reads any website? Don’t we just read headlines now?

They should make a PRINT newspaper that is just the headlines. No content.

Has anyone who reads this website actually gotten a job using my advice? If so, let me know.

Anyway. Time to clock out. Time to lock up. Time to jump on the 10 freeway for an hour. You know what would be nice? If like… half the people in LA just disappeared. Can there be like… A Leftovers type event in LA? Except… I want to be one of the people taken to the other side — wherever the other 1% or 10% or whatever percent went. Where is the other side anyway? Canada?

Later.

 

Reader Follow Up: ANGRY AT THE SYSTEM?

Angry

Javier had a question on my last angry rant.

“This may come off as petty, but honestly, are you angry about taking the road to get where you are?

This comes up every so often with my fellow PAs: When you get an assistant, will you get a charge out of putting them through the same? Or do you want to re-pave the path, so to speak? I don’t mean baby-ing or hand holding.”

Thanks for the question —

I wouldn’t say I am necessarily angry about the road it takes to move up. I worked with a lot of great people, and there is camaraderie in sludging through the trenches with your fellow production assistants. You will make friends in those tough times that will hopefully pull you through the rest of your career.

Are there bitter people who abuse the system by abusing PAs, simply because “they paid their dues, and now it’s your time” ? Of course there are — but honestly, I learned the most from some of those guys.

I won’t ever “abuse” my future assistants (if I’m lucky enough to need an assistant someday). I don’t think I would get a “charge” out of it. But I will understand that the system works the way it does because it needs to. The film/tv industry is VERY competitive, and as ALL competitive jobs, you need a system where the best of the best rise to the top.  And the only way the best rise to the top is by NOT making it easy for them. Those who conquer and overcome will succeed.  If you recognize talent — foster it. But if you see someone who can’t handle the heat — you can’t make it easy for them, because then you’re not helping anyone.  You’re not helping them, and you’re not helping the production.

My previous rant was not aimed at the system — it was aimed at Film School students who don’t want to put in the work. Or who don’t understand what they’re in for. Students who think they can easily get a job. I am trying to HELP THEM before they waste all their money on a worthless degree and then find out no one is jumping at the opportunity to give them a job. That in reality, they’re a dime a dozen and just getting a simple PA job is super hard. Even though my rant came out overly harsh, I am TRYING TO HELP. If you’re a film student, and not willing to put in the work to get the job, you need to change your degree. For your own sake. For you future family’s sake.

I hope this answered your question!

-12pt