Motivational Monday: Showrunners
For those of you who have access to the beautiful world that is Netflix, you might have noticed a little documentary called, Showrunners: The Art of Running a TV Show. It features fascinating interviews with many prominent television folks like, JJ Abrams (Felicity, Alias, Lost), Joss Whedon (Buffy, Angel, Firefly), and Hart Hanson (Bones).
I decided to watch it during a brief hiatus from my novel (taken to prevent myself from scrapping the whole manuscript in a fit of despair). If anything, I figured it would be an interesting few hours that would take my mind off of how frustrated I felt.
Within the first ten minutes, I was inspired. Despite the fact that the people interviewed all write for television, there were a few tidbits I found that can apply to any writer.
1. Hard Work
This one’s a bit of a no brainer, but it bears repeating.
None of the featured showrunners said anything about passing the work off to someone else, waiting until the last minute to start working on a script, or sleeping in until noon. Their jobs require them to make decisions almost twenty-four hours a day. If they want their baby to thrive, they know they need to do everything in their power to make it happen.
If they don’t, chances are they won’t be around for a second season, or even a second episode.
Bottom line? If you don’t put in the work, the writing just doesn’t get done.
None of the people interviewed were an overnight success.
They had all worked their way up the ‘corporate ladder’, until they had proven themselves. They pitched a show and then another, until they finally received a green light.
Others had never even written for a successful show until they reached their thirties. They faced criticism of their talent, outright rejection, and worked for years on different shows that never gained a wide audience.
I’m sure that there were days where these folks questioned if their hard work was ever going to pay off. What I noticed was that they gave themselves permission to do what it took to get where they wanted to go despite any setback.
3. Find a Mentor
It also seemed that at some point during a successful showrunner’s early career, they managed to work with someone who believed in them and their talent. This person was responsible for giving them the tools that they needed to do their job, as well as the confidence to pursue their passion.
While these showrunners eventually grew into their role, the appreciation and love for their mentor was clearly evident. In a lot of cases, these mentors were responsible for giving them their first big break.
Watching this documentary made me sit back in my chair and re-think how I’ve approached writing over the past few months. I was reminded that you never really get to see how hard a person works to achieve something.
You only see the end result, never the struggle.
Sometimes, it’s important for us writers to remember that what we’re doing isn’t easy. A little more patience would do us some good, and we have a network of friends and colleagues who are more than happy to prove support when we need it.
If you haven’t seen Showrunners: The Art of Running a TV Show and are feeling even remotely discouraged by writing, I highly recommend it. If you have, or you’ve watched/read something recently that you’ve found particularly motivating, feel free to share in the comments below!
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