How to become a Children’s Television Writer in 601 easy steps – Part 2
Step 6: Don’t.
When people find out what I do, the reaction is usually: “Wow, that must be so much fun.” Or silence. A confused, awkward silence. Both reactions are correct. My job is fun BUT there are some things that could be considered more fun. For example:
Trust me on this one. I’m writing this on a Saturday night. I was writing scripts all day. Now instead of going to get pizza with my friends, I’m writing this. Let’s add another thing to that list:
Things that are more fun than being a creative freelancer:
Eating pizza with your friends on a Saturday night.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking things will get better with success, there won’t be more pizza time, there will only be less. And the more you achieve, the less sympathy you’ll receive for missing out on pizza and sleep… and life. After all, you’re doing what you love and you’re doing well at it you smug, jerk-nosed butt-face. But let’s be positive for a moment here…
Things that are good about being a creative freelancer:
Doing what you love.
Flexible biscuit breaks.
Hands up for flexible biscuit breaks!
Yes, getting paid to do what you love is amazing. I genuinely love what I do. I don’t always love the process. I may mash my head against the keyboard more than I should. And I’m certainly not romantically involved with the lack of sleep and instability that comes with it but no matter how hard it gets, I keep doing it. If I won the lottery, I’d still be doing it. The day I stop writing stories will be the day I die. Because: LOVE. As the Beatles once sang: Love is all you need… and Berocca.
I’ve learnt that to pursue a freelance creative career you have to love it more than everything else – because at some point everything else will crumble away like a moist biscuit to make room for it. All you’ll be left with is your work, your passion and your art. So you had better be sure you wanna put a ring on that.
Sometimes what you think you love and what you actually love are totally different things. For example: You think you love puppies but you actually love interacting with fluffy things momentarily. You don’t love the reality of puppies, which is: dealing with poop, having your things torn apart, vet bills, not sleeping, poop, more poop. Barking. Poop.
Likewise, you might think you’d love a creative profession. But you might not love the reality, which is: dealing with crap, having your work torn apart, bills, not sleeping, rejection, more rejection.
Let’s talk common misconceptions, here are some things being a creative freelancer is not:
GLAMOROUS: Most days I sit at home alone yelling, “why can’t you be funnier?” at my screen. As of today, I haven’t washed my hair in five days. I tried to last night but I fell asleep after I got a headache from forgetting to eat for ten hours. Deadlines will do that.
FLEXIBLE: You don’t work 9 to 5. You work ALWAYS. Your hours are: all of them. Sometimes you can take a weekday off because you don’t have any work. That’s either a good thing or it means you can’t pay your rent. Double awesome happy sauce.
EGO BOOSTING: Every week I get ‘notes’ back on my work to tell me in great detail how wrong it is and how it should be fixed. This is a normal part of the process. I won’t ever stop getting notes, no matter how good I get at writing screenplays. Rejection is routine, as is criticism. You have to do this to your feelings:
If reading the above doesn’t put you off, then congratulations, you’re either:
B. Creative! Yay!
Next week: More bad jokes.