Number 5627

Yesterday was a good day.

I finished Draft Zero of my first feature, and my membership card arrived from the Writers Guild.

I feel all warm and professional inside.

But the arrival of my slightly sticky so-cheap-it’s-made-of-waxed-paper membership card does make me wonder.

The Writers Guild of Great Britain was formed in 1958. That’s a fair while back. And while it’s true that unlike the WGA you’re not required to be a member to make a living in the world of TV and Film, having only 5,626 other members join in the last forty-odd years seems awfully low.

And then consider that of those who’ve joined since it started, a great deal of those people must have died. Or let their membership lapse. Or both. Then suddenly that’s not a lot of Guild Members any more.

There must be more writers in the UK than have joined up. If so, what are they doing about things like, ooh, legal advice? Going through the small print in their contracts? Pensions?

I don’t want to die in penury. And a hundred and fifty quid a year (plus change should I earn more than 15 grand) seems like a good investment to make in things like collective bargaining and newsletters and a chance to meet up with other professionals and having an organisation that’s looking out for writers.

Not to mention the fact that when I sell something to the US it’ll save me twenty five hundred bucks joining the WGA.

Cheap at the price.

Chip. Chip. Chip.

So Danny has been talking about getting into a routine.

Routines are good. Routines help. Without a routine, you’re never going to make money from your writing.

Thing is, any bugger can pretend to be a writer by waiting for the muse to strike. I firmly believe that everyone has a novel (or script, or epic poem) in them – and that very few people have two.

Melpomene or Calliope will see you through one. More than that, you have to do it on your own.

So a routine will help you finish something. But how the hell do you get into a routine?

Well, that’ll be a deadline. Some people can set their own deadlines. Me, I find self-set deadlines all to easy to ignore. I need someone to compete against.

(Not necessarily to win against. I mean, I *like* to win, but I’ll settle for a good fight well-fought any day of the week. I think that comes from having a brother.)

So at the end of November, William and I got into a pissing contest.

One first draft of a brand-new film screenplay, from scratch, in exactly two months. And when I say brand-new, that means that you can’t have written down *anything* about the project before.

Not even an aide-memoire.

Your pen hits the paper on or after the first day of month one, and you deliver a finished draft by midnight on the last day of month two.

I’ve got five days left, and I’m almost done. I spent the first month plotting and outlining, and this month I’ve been doing four pages a day after I get home from work. Takes about two hours.

And a lot of it’s rubbish and I know that. But by the 31st the hard work will be over – that of having something to work with, a rough form out of the marble, a shape that I can work with.

All due to just sitting down and chipping away at it, one day at a time.