Thursday, June 17, 2010

Screenwriting Vs Blogging

Questions from Eleanor Ball, at

Hi James, I'm a (very new) scriptwriter with a blog (you posted on it once!), I'll be keeping a professional one throughout August, and I've read so much about how useful and brilliant the damn things are; but what I'd really like to know is how to sieve the content of personal blogs.

So, have you ever censored your blog?

Hmm, after blogging for a couple of years, I did go back and remove the names of a couple of television executives who'd appeared in blog posts, mainly because I'd been a bit cross with them when writing the posts, but wasn't that bothered any more. It wasn't so much I was worried about my career (they'd both been demoted rather promoted since I'd written the posts, so I don't think I was the only person who felt that way), but I felt a bit bad about my posts being on the second or third page when you googled their names. And it was a bit unprofessional.

I did used to use the blog to vent, a lot more so than I do now, although I wasn't saying anything I wouldn't have said to those peoples' faces (well, if we were having an argument, it would be a bit weird if we just met on the train or something). But then it all felt much rawer back when I started the blog; these days if I get let down by someone professionally, I just *roll eyes* and don't work with them again if I can possibly help it.

I've always found the producers I most enjoy working with couldn't give a toss what writers put on their blogs - I think probably because they're perfectly secure about the work they do. The good ones to work with aren't going to be swayed either way. The work is (or should be) what counts.

Are you ever purposefully sycophantic on your blog in the knowledge/hope that someone you need might read it?

Ha, no, I hope I across as genuinely enthusiastic about other people's work rather than sycophantic! I have been a bit embarrassed when I found out a couple of well-known writers had read something a bit gushing I'd written about their work (they'd been pointed towards it by other people, they weren't googling themselves, for the record), but it was a genuine reaction as a televison viewer, rather than an attempt to ingratiate myself, as it never occurred to me they'd read it in the first place.

These days I do tend to assume if I put someone's name in, they'll come across it eventually, which has made me a bit more careful either way.

Do you also have a more private blog elsewhere?

I don't have the time.

Have you ever felt like you've compromised integrity/quality for the sake of phrases like "many thanks to" and "the kind people at"?

Nooo, I do think so. Not sure I've ever used those phrases, but either way, I wouldn't use them if I didn't mean them. Readers (and particularly other writers) are perfectly capable of reading between the lines.

Have you ever been frustrated that you "can't" write negatively on your public blog about something you feel negatively about?

Regularly. There are certainly plenty of instances where you hear producers or commissioners, or, to be fair, other writers, say something that immediately makes you *roll eyes*. But I wouldn't like every stupid thing I've said reported behind my back on the internet, so it's common courtesy not to do it to others. And sometimes, with the benefit of hindsight, you realize you were wrong and they were right, or there was some important piece of information you weren't privy to, so that's always worth bearing in mind.

And I can write negatively about something, as long as I'm prepared to accept the consequences. But I'm generally a fairly positive person, I think. And reading blogs that are nothing more than extended rants about other peoples' work are fairly dull reading.

And how do you resist?! It's your blog, after all; can you distance yourself?

It's my job, I suppose. You have to bear in mind blogging is a public activity, after all. And private bitching sessions via email or down the pub is what binds writers together.

I've researched a number of writer's blogs and have yet to come across one that's professionally itchy (as in... professionally uncomfortable. Makes you think twice before you post it, because you worry it might get in the way of potential employment, pleasing your boss, networking etc.). I don't know if there's a method to that, or if I'm just looking at it the wrong way.

I think you just have to find the balance yourself, which you can only do by writing, and then reading carefully before you post. If you're prepared to admit your mistakes, the internet can be a surprisingly forgiving place, I think.

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