Phil Gladwin writes on matching vision with good professional practices


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Why do some screenwriters succeed over and over again, while others never even get going?


I'm going to talk to you about the deep, hidden reasons why most writers never see success in the TV industry. 

I'm going to explain how you can get hired to write on TV drama series, and maybe even see your own shows reach the screen.

I want you to have an exciting and fulfilling career as a TV scriptwriter that lasts for decades.

I'll show you how it's perfectly possible with the right attitude.

But first I need to talk about photography. Stay with me.

This image above is called Dovima with Elephants and happens to be one of the most iconic fashion photographs in history.

It was taken by a world-class fashion photographer called Richard Avedon at a Paris circus in 1955. 

Dovima was one of the most famous models in the world at the time, and her gown is the first Dior dress designed by Yves St Laurent.

The photo is a symbol of just how amazing the creative process is.

Looking at this photo feels like "That accident which pricks you, but also bruises you, is poignant to you”

I'm paraphrasing Roland Barthes when I say that. 

(I know almost nothing about Roland Barthes, but I think he got it right about how you feel when real art hits you.)

It's a beautiful, simple, and striking idea.

Calm beauty, plus wild and animated beasts.


Yet there's more.

Notice the manacles round the elephants' feet? So is that expression on the elephants' faces? Is it excitement? Or pain? 

Is Dovima's expression compassion? Or an arrogant indifference?

She is so frail, so poised, yet free to go where her whims take her.

The elephants are so powerful, so primal, yet they are held in chains.

The elephants are powerful, but Dovima dominates them with her grace and confidence.

And, of course the photographer behind the camera who dictated this entire setup is the most powerful of all.

You couldn't, would never want to, take this photo today, yet like most great art it's full of conflict, full of beauty, and is unforgettable.

One single moment in time that has lived for six decades already – and could live for centuries more.

In some way, isn't that purest form of the dream of the artist?

Isn't that your dream as a writer?

Just like Richard Avedon, you have an idea.

You execute it in the real world and that magic happens. 

Your idea finds an audience, settles into their minds, and becomes a self-standing thing with a life and a meaning all of its own.

We are scriptwriters, so let’s be specific:

What could be better than writing a script that turns into a drama that is remembered half a century later?

You are a serious scriptwriter, or you wouldn't be reading this.

You are the kind of person for whom writing is that special place.

Writing is that special state of mind where you feel truly alive, truly fulfilled.

That place where the world and life make sense.

Somewhere inside you, you suspect writing could be your life’s work.

You are beginning to realise how that fact will always set you apart from most people.

And you are beginning to realise exactly how hard it is to actually get your work on screen.

Which is really starting to p*&$ you off!

What does it really take?

Writing is a strange gig.

Writers get hired every day.

But from the outside there seems to be no rhyme or reason to it.

You need to work hard, of course.

You need to learn your craft – but craft never seems to be enough.

Talent is critical - and yet, you have talent.

Certainly when you read your scripts they feel as good as the things you see on TV. 

Of course it takes commitment too.

The sort of commitment that means you will spend a long, sunny bank holiday alone in a room with a computer, while your family and your friends are out living the richness of life.

You know all about that.

You are an expert in stealing time from everyday life to go and write.

Yet, for all this, you aren't where you want to be, and you feel you are still on the outside of the whole thing. 

You can't get traction.

Your feature scripts never get produced, you never get to write an episode of a TV show.

Something, somewhere, is wrong with what you're doing, but for the life of you, you can't work out what that is.

If that's you, then you're not alone.

I don't know what the actual figures are, but my sense is that most, maybe even 95% of writers – or more – never see any real success.

I know why that happens.

I know about some problems you probably know you are facing – and some others you may have without knowing about it.

If you've got a few minutes I can talk you through them.