How to become a Children’s Television Writer in 601 easy steps – Part 3
Step 8: Have good ideas.
My job involves coming up with new story ideas every day. I spend my days writing about psychotic space unicorns, possessed hamburgers and getting arrested by the toilet police for poop-ticket infringements. Having to constantly come up with fresh ideas can be daunting but somehow my brain always manages to keep pooping them out. Over the years I’ve learnt a few ways to help keep those idea-poops nice and regular…
Step 9: Come up with good ideas. Use them immediately.
Once upon a time I would hold onto ‘good’ ideas when I had them. I’d file them away in a mental drawer marked: Top Secret – Future Best Seller. Those ideas would sit there growing older and more irrelevant. And then they’d DIE. The end. Now I’ve learnt to use them straight away, in any way that I can, because as soon as I let those good ideas go it helps spark new ones. Better ones.
Above: Charlotte’s comic ‘Super Lonely Mutant Girl’
Step 10: Write what you know.
I subscribe in part to the ‘write what you know’ policy, not literally because obviously I don’t know anything about unicorns in space or possessed hamburgers but the characters and stories I write are often inspired by experiences I’ve had. Some writers like to hermit away and sit in their room writing religiously. I like to go outside and experience new things and meet new people because that way I have interesting things to write about.
I played Ophelia in a Shakespearian bush doof performance with only four days notice once because a stranger asked me to. One time I impersonated a veterinarian to sneak into a fancy dinner. Another time I pole danced on stage at the Opera House to Sir Mix-a-Lot. If it sounds weird or scary I always say yes. And I never hesitate to prioritise life over work. I can write anytime but I can’t rewind my life. Write what you know, yes, but know more than what your computer screen looks like – that’s my philosophy anyway.
Step 11: Boycott writer’s block.
One of the best moves I ever made was to call serious BS on writer’s block. It’s a crap-sticks excuse for not writing. Being dead would be a good excuse because ghosts can’t hold pens or operate laptops. Being physically incapable of writing is a good excuse, writer’s block is not. The only thing keeping your page empty is you. That said, some days are always going to feel harder than others. For these days, I have emergency plans:
Step 12: Write the sh*t version.
If you can’t write something good, write something bad. When I get really stuck, I make a mental hand-shake agreement with myself to just suck it up and write the worst version of whatever I’m working on. Usually it’s doesn’t even end up being that bad and I’ll solve a bunch of problems. Sometimes it ends up being great. Worst case scenario: If you write something rubbish then at least you’ll know how not to write it.
Step 13: Play ‘Nine in Nine.’
I play a little brainstorming ‘game’ I made up called nine in nine. I find it helps me jump mental hurdles. It’s pretty simple: take a story problem you’ve been struggling to solve (Eg. finding a better ending, solving a plot issue, improving a gag) and give yourself nine minutes to come up with nine solutions. Usually I find this helps me to stop censoring all my ideas and once I’ve written down all the obvious solutions it’s much easier to come up with a clever one.
Step 14: Have an emergency back up plan.
If all else fails, might I suggest the following steps:
Remove internet from life.
Remove phone from life.
Remove people from life (they might physically knock on the door).
Finally: Place food and beverages necessary to ones survival directly in front of you but well out of arms reach. Only allow oneself to eat or drink at the completion of ones work.
Hopefully you have finished your work, otherwise you are now slowly dying on your floor with no possible way of reaching emergency services. Yay!
Follow Charlotte (just not into dark alleys please):