This year was my first at the London Screenwriters Festival, and I very nearly didn’t turn up.
I’d been on the mailing list for a while, I signed up after re-reading the Guerilla Filmmakers’ Handbook a year or so ago. The emails came in and I looked at them, thought it looked great, but then cast them aside. In March I took the plunge and decided to do a weekend screenwriting course at the Met Film School, and I got the bug. I came away knowing what I wanted to do, screenwriting was my way forward. I got loads of books and started reading. Meanwhile, the LSF emails kept coming in, and I started to get curious. So, one evening I started to have a look at the website, the more I read the more interesting I became, and my stomach starting to churn at the thought of actually going. I saw a recommendation of the LSF by someone I had known at Uni. I Face booked him, what did he think of it? I haven’t written anything yet, I’m new, is it for me? His reply, GO! So I signed up and bought my ticket, my stomach churning away.
This summer I moved house, so for a few months my focus was find a house, organise and move. The screenwriting and thoughts of the LSF went on the back burner.
August, September, October – OH MY GOD IT’S OCTOBER!
On the advice given from many previous attendees of the LSF I ordered some business cards. I spent an evening scrolling through the websites, got some stuff down and hit send. My hands were shaking and my stomach was in knots. I’d committed for the first time to actually calling myself a screenwriter; it was there, on a business card for all to see. F**k.
More nervous preparation ensued, I printed the tickets, bought some more books, bought some new stationary, bought some mints!
I booked to go to Save the Cat! Wednesday. My partner booked the week of to look after our daughter. I booked Pilar’s Thursday.
OH MY GOD IT’S TUESDAY. I spent the whole day a bag of nerves.
Wednesday morning. I got up much earlier than required got ready and sat there. I can’t do this. I can’t do this. They’ll know I can’t do this. I was doing a very good job of listening to the voice in my head, and talking myself out of going when my partner reminded me that I’ve done more scary stuff before, this was just going along to meet some other writer folk and listen to some people talking. And there would be a beer at the end! I left before the voice in my head could take over.
5 days of early mornings and late nights, meeting people, listening to the speakers, having a few drinks, it was hectic.
Somehow in the middle of all of that, Stephan and I decided to start a writers circle. We have Chris Jones, Johnny Newman and their Manifesting Success session to thank. They got us geared up, and we made a commitment to each other to start a writers circle to keep this all going. To not go back to the real world come Monday and forget all the excitement, inspiration and enthusiasm we had over the weekend. We want to be writers, we want to get stuff read, produced, watched, and we don’t want to let it go. So we’re not going to, and we’re going to let each other either.
One thing that surprised us was the response we got from other delegates, people wanted to join us, and were excited about it too. We definitely couldn’t back out now.
So here we are, two weeks after the festival and the Writers’ Circle has a website, a Twitter profile, a Facebook page. We had our first meeting last night and people turned up!
It was great to have a beer and chat with other writers again. And we decided the following goals to take the group forward;
- Motivation and accountability – encouragement of what you’re working on, having the meetings as regular deadlines to move your project forward
- Having a read through of each other’s work
- Doing table reads of each other’s writing
- Critical discourse of films and scripts
- Sharing knowledge, recommending books/films/websites etc.
- Socials – trips to the cinema, meeting for drinks
The most important thing for me is to not let this slip away, and to keep writing. That little voice in my head has gone quiet, and the stomach churning, hand shaking nerves have gone. I don’t feel like a fraud calling myself a screenwriter. I have a deadline, in two weeks I have to bring an outline for my project. This is happening.
So, if you want to chat about movies and TV, meet some new people, be encouraged with your writing and have some help to keep that procrastination monster at bay, come and join us. 7pm Thursday 21st November in the Lyttleton café at the The National Theatre, we’ll see you there.
P.S. As for the LSF, I’ve booked my ticket for next year.