Career Change Inspiration

posted by Chris Valentine

Ever since a break down, or at least a sort a clinical depression that lingered for 6 months whilst living through a drawn out cold snap of the winter months of 2011 in London, I thought about turning my energies and identity to becoming a screenwriter. But it wasn’t until a chance encounter with screenwriter, Stuart Mills, in a local coffee shop, who espoused his approval and inspiration to the wonderful comedic writerRoger Wolfson that it finally clicked for me. Stuart Mills was an up- coming script writer, now lead script editor for numerous independent short films and successful TV productions like ‘The Thick of It’, ‘Line of Duty’ and ‘Fleabag’. Indeed, it was this conversation that set my career change path to start writing for Television.

The Renaissance of television

Cold nights, comfort foods and the renaissance of the Golden age of Television all conspired to encourage me to consider Screenwriting. Simply owing to the meditation on what fictionalized characters were actually saying to each other and how it set up proceeding scenes and story arcs, did the brief ‘write your own parallel universe’ really crystallize my ambitions into a kind of direction.

Top Tips for Flow State in writing

Stuart Mills remarked on something he read Roger Wolfson mention in an interview once. Something to the effect of to achieve a flow state in writing, imagine your parallel world where all the decisions you made, you took the opposition direction as a starting point for written dialogue.’

It took a great level of introspection and self-analysis, but in the pursuit of authentic character writing, I found a kind of solace and mediation to the process. As a middle aged man, grappling with the common complaint of regret and where my life choices had landed me, there was a counsel to reimagining the ‘what-if’s’ which heightened a sense of ‘character empathy’, which Mills had mentioned made for a flow state in writing that allows the characters to speak for themselves. The sense of observing these characters interact among themselves was mesmerizing and felt like an out of body experience. Indeed, I was, in fact, observing my thinking whilst loosely fictionalized characters would whip through retorts and react towards whatever scenario I was constructing.

Writing and Well-being

I was transported back to absorbing my favorite television shows again, just this time I was actually involved with its outcome. The increased solitude with my writing, however, led me away from the community life around me and caused some heightened sense of introversion that became a source of anxiety. I was encouraged to enforce weekly day off policy that I could conveniently use for character field research.

Casting to the character

Despite the amount of effort and enforced solitude the writing took on, I was ill prepared for the challenge of casting for my characters. When I was finally offered the opportunity to make a Film Short for an independent commissioner, I had to let go of owning my characters and find a way to collaborate with casting agents. Life is about challenges but being equipped with certain points from Mills allowed me to develop a new career in television

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