Taking your time has its benefits

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“Comparison is the thief of joy.” — Teddy Roosevelt

One of the easiest ways to bum yourself out is to compare your output to another writer. It can feel like everyone is writing more than us. Especially on a platform like Medium, where you’re encouraged by those in the know to write, write, write!

To be sure: this is great advice. Writers improve by writing. Still, some of us are, how should I say… not fast? Slow to quite slow? Sloths in a world of jaguars? Which is totally fine, by the way. Sloths may be slow but they still…

Five things I wish someone had told me after I staffed on my first TV show

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“Be careful what you wish for, lest it come true!” — Aesop. Also, Drake.

When it comes to breaking into TV and film, most emerging writers focus on things like getting an agent or manager, staffing on their first TV show, or selling their screenplay. But no one ever asks what to do when these dreams actually come true. I know I didn’t. Probably because most of the time breaking into TV writing felt impossible. Like trying to be an astronaut. Or a ninja. Or an astronaut-ninja.

Even with steady progress in my career, I was ninety percent sure I’d…

Your wildest ideas are your best ideas

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Every writer reaches a point during a project when they realize they need to make some big changes. The story’s not working and needs a fresh direction. Or a character is boring, unmotivated, cliché. Or that spark of inspiration that was the North Star of the whole story has dimmed and must be re-discovered.

We know this but often we are afraid to explore a new direction. To reach over with our left pinkies and give that delete key a big ol’ push. It’s not so much “kill your darlings.” More “this thing’s not working but I don’t want to…

How every writer’s wily foe returns again and again

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I hit a Medium milestone last month when an was selected for “further distribution” for the first time. It was exciting, to say the least, and led to more reads and views for anything I’ve written on here. By far. After a couple of months of learning the ropes, the validation felt like a breath of fresh air. So why was I suddenly petrified to write the next thing?

I came to Medium because I wanted to write and share something every day. I’m a screenwriter by trade and while I love it, there is a certain…

Wonder is every writer’s greatest ally

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I have been jealous of confident people my whole life. Those talented folks who make everything look so damn easy. The types who walked out of the womb knowing how to climb mountains, who shrug off the odds of impossible goals and just go for it.

I was raised with a “talent-mindset” aka the idea that people are born with Goddess-given talents or they aren’t. And there is no shame in quitting if you find yourself in the latter camp. This, I believed, was a totally normal, reasonable way to view ability. …

Four tips for notes that are actually helpful

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Every writer can agree: terrible notes are the worst. There’s nothing more frustrating than giving your all to a piece of writing for days, weeks, months, years, only to get back a bullet list of vague, often contradictory musings from a would-be helpful colleague/now-former-friend.

Of course, some of the blame lays at the feet of the writer. We often just drop our draft into an email with a quick message like, “Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!” It’s a crapshoot if that reader’s “thoughts” will be of any value. …

Three sketch-writing techniques to bring your characters to life

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Great writing is all about great characters. They are the eyes and ears who help our readers discover the new worlds we work so tirelessly to craft. They move us, make us laugh and cry. And yet characters often get overlooked, sacrificed at the altar of plot, existing solely to move the story from A to Z.

A writer must get into the minds of their characters. Those are the ones who resonate, the ones where we go, “I know them!” We need to understand why they do what they do, what shapes they’re thinking, and most importantly, what drives…

Three foundational steps every aspiring writer must take

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So you want to get into TV writing but you don’t know where to start? Or maybe you’ve been Googling around, lurking on screenwriting Reddits and you’ve found a lot of info but like it’s a lot. Too much even.

Rest assured: I’m here to break it down for you. There are three fundamental things every aspiring writer must do. I mean, there’s probably more but these are three you need to start with.

Brief career recap: I moved to LA eleven years ago with the simple goal of working in television comedy. Two years in, I got my first…

Adjusting expectations is the key to productivity

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If you’ve spent any time researching productivity, you’ve come across this maxim: “We all have the same 24 hours.”

or , if you’re like me, you often feel you don’t have enough time to get everything done. Ironically, since the pandemic hit, time is the one thing many of us gained. But between caring for a toddler, Zoom schooling with a kindergartner, and tagging in and out with my wife on work projects, my writing time shrank. I did my best to keep up, but my output waned.

At first, I beat myself up. I whinged everyone…

Four tips to help write an effective TV sample script

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Ah, January. That special month when we all try to get back on track and when TV writers realize that holy s**t it’s already January and the new pilot I was going to write for staffing season sucks. Hard! Maybe I can just swap out these MoviePass jokes from last year’s sample with some Timothee Chalamet references and it will all be okay?!?? Also, is that how he spells “Timothee”?!!? Isn’t there an accent?!??!

Alright. Deep breaths. It’s going to be okay. And, yes, there’s an accent. Now, let’s break this down.

“Staffing season” is the time of year when…

Andrew Barbot

Andrew writes TV shows, movies, and silly songs for his kids.

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