We did it. We went up the mountain with high hopes, and came down with a pitch. Yay! And I’m proud to say its concise and simple, relatable, and really shows how this story could go on for a long long time. All the things the experts will tell you it needs to be in order to set your show up for success.
But in keeping with my vein of honesty, I will confess that the part in the middle, the part where we actually had to do the work to get to this simple pitch, felt at times like a full scale war with the brain.
We were on our retreat for less than 72 hours but it felt more like 3 weeks. In looking at it after the fact, it is amazing how what seems so obvious and clear now, could be so incredibly elusive before, but as I mentioned in the past, fear is one seriously wiley beast, and it lives for confusing the process.
The thing is, creating a pitch forces you to answer some pretty serious questions: “In one sentence, what is your show really about?” “How is it relatable to the world at large?” and “Why is anyone going to care enough to watch for 7 seasons?” And oh, by the way, the answers to these questions better be seriously juicy and original, because the competition is, well, its best to not even look at the reality of that, because you likely have better odds of winning Power Ball than getting a show picked up, but no pressure.
I’m finding that the key is to simply be more stubborn than your fear (and reality). When you begin your descent into boiling your show down to its most essential component, everything you’ve ever loved about your show, every storyline or idea you have ever wanted to express, will pop into your head simultaneously, and like a bunch of attention starved little kids they will literally be screaming that they are the most important, and although you love them all, you can only pick one. Which one is truly the most important? Which one is large enough to not back you into a corner, but still specific enough to be uniquely your own?
This is the question that has the potential to make you insane, and its also the reason why not everyone can succeed at being a writer. This is what separates the men from the boys, and the women from the girls. Based on what I’ve read, virtually all writers suffer this same process, including the greats, it seems the only difference is that the great writers, the ones we know, never give up. They keep at it like we did, looking at the possibilities from every angle, and suffering the angst of knowing deep down that none of these angles are working, maybe this idea is a turkey, but you keep at it anyway, and then just when you think you can’t go at it anymore, it hits, and you know its right, and all is happy again.
The unexpected outcome of it all is that we didn’t just come down the mountain with a pitch, we came down with a much clearer understanding of our own story, one that makes it much easier to do everything from script rewrites, to creating cohesive marketing materials and on and on. Oh and fear, well, its amazing how much fear goes away when you replace it with a solid, well thought out pitch, that is there for you to read whenever you sink into self doubt.
Which leads me to…
Industry Tip #36
When it comes to answering the central question “what is your show about?” be willing to sit in the question and the subsequent discomfort for as long as it takes to get the answer you know in your gut is right.
Industry Tip #37
Answering the central question “what is your show about? is a must.
And this week I will leave you with a bit of fun, compliments of a Jerry Seinfeld interview with the New York Times that exposes the absolute ridiculousness of the writing process. Thanks Jerry and the NYT. Much more fun to come.