Writing for a TV show/streaming service is not a one-wo/man show, though there are some like ‘The Crown’ where it’s said the writer works on the show alone, but then there is an entire research team behind him.
For most of us, a writers’ room is the way to go, I will be honest and let you know that in the past I’ve had to work on some entire shows alone because of budget constraints, but things are opening up now and we are able to afford writers rooms.
Unlike in Hollywood where the writers in a writers’ room have various titles like Supervising producer and so forth, In Kenya and in some other African countries, the only titles we currently use are Writer and Head writer, the head writer wears two hats, that of the head writer and of the Script/story editor because again, our budgets don’t allow for more.
What is a writers’ room anyway? This is a space where writers and creatives meet to flesh out story ideas, from strenghtening the character bible, the story arcs and everything it takes to get the story from just a concept to the final shooting script.
Okay, so with the technicalities out of the way, let’s get into a few tips on how to thrive in a writer’s room.
- Be a team player: You are not competing with your fellow writers; you are working together to create a great story that you can all be proud of. Have that at the back of your mind as you build on other writer’s work, use polite language. It’s not about outshining your colleagues, it’s about having a great story and unique characters.
- Come prepared: The way to shine in a writers’ room is to be prepared. What’s the show about, what’s the topic, what are some of the themes? How knowledgeable are you on some of these topics? Don’t be a prop in the writers’ room, come ready with knowledge. This is why I insist that writers have to read widely, you have to interact and live life so that you are able to tap from that and enrich the story ideas in the room.
- Be vulnerable: Most writers’ rooms are safe spaces, you need to be somewhat vulnerable, to share from some of your own life experiences, good or bad to be able to help make the story relatable to your audience. This is also a good way to connect and become friends with your fellow writers. There’s no shame in being vulnerable.
- Be courageous: When you find yourself in a writers’ room with more experienced writers, you could get intimidated to the point of not wanting to share your ideas because you feel they’re not good or won’t make an impact. A writers’ room is not the place to keep your ideas to yourself, you have to share them, doesn’t matter if they are half baked, speak up, someone else will build on your point and that idea could end up being a big turning point in the story, so please speak courageously. There are more no’s than yes’ in a writer’s room so keep sharing.
- Don’t take things personally: An idea getting rejected could feel like a personal attack on you. It’s not (most times) the best thing you can do for your career is not to take things too personal. Go with an open mind, get the story done, you are there for the story, not for ego massaging.
- Have Fun: Enjoy the process. The beauty of being a writer is being able to work on various projects. Be in the moment, be present, enjoy the story, give it your all and the positive energy you send out will repay you back.
- Keep learning: Never stop learning. There will be more experienced writers, better storytellers and so forth in the room, instead of competing with them, learn from them. That’s one of the ways to keep growing as a writer.
I’m hoping these tips have inspired you to do more and be more. For more inspiration, information and education on the business and craft of writing, head over to my website and subscribe to my FREE WEEKLY E-NEWSLETTER. (unsubscribe at any time)
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