Sunday, February 5, 2012

Try, try again

It’s an exhausting business, writing stuff. Any writer will tell you this, and I don’t even count myself as a writer (although I’m on Day Five of my Let’s-See-If-I-Can-Blog-Daily-For-A-Whole-Month experiment): it’s not just a simple process of typing a few well-chosen words in the correct order. It’s about realising that most of the stuff you do get around to writing probably won’t be seen by anybody who hasn’t taken up residence in your wastepaper basket.

Earlier today, one the ultra-sensationalist free papers that get thrust at us whether we want them or not carried a story about some residents who were “up in arms” and “about to man the barricades” having received the news that a funeral parlour was setting up business in their street. Clearly, this was a failed tabloid journalist’s attempt to make a scandal out of molehill, but I found there was no way of writing about it in a humorous fashion without making it seem as if I was making fun of people who found dead bodies a bit creepy. For me, humour can be as black and as morbid as you like, but not cruel.

I could have written about the cold weather, and especially about how Britain has gone into panic mode again, but I’ve flogged that horse to the point where even a German would wave me to silence and say, “Okay, we’ve got the joke now, try something else.” There’s nothing much to be mined comedy-wise from the fact that we’ve been doing our taxes this weekend; and the fact that Clyde twice walked into the house covered in so much dust that great clouds of it flew up when I tried to pet him is one of those “you had to be there” moments and not enough for an entire blog post.

So instead, I am writing about the difficulty of writing (and the same goes for videomaking) and emphasising the golden rule which is: Most of what you write (or film) will be garbage, but that’s no reason not to do it. Write, write, write and write (or film, film, film and film) and eventually, you’ll strike gold. Maybe not much, but enough.

Not that everyone is a born writer, of course. But I get a bit testy when I see somebody posting to the YouTube Creator’s Corner forum disappointed that success doesn’t come instantly and gloomily concluding that they’re no good at videomaking. A lot of them post this because, in their Eeyore-like view of the world, they have at some point decided that the only thing they can do is post illegal music videos and have just been dinged for copyright infringement. “I’m no good at videos,” they say; but usually, if they have tried, they gave up too quickly.

My advice: Make original videos anyway. Post them. Then watch them over and over again, and identify as many mistakes as you can. Then make more videos, avoiding the mistakes you identified. Then watch those… and so on. Keep doing that, and eventually (if you do it right) you’ll have a video that’s actually halfway good.

And then anything’s possible.

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