My Life as a writer
When did you first realise you wanted to write for a living?
I still don’t want to be a writer, not really. It’s so hard, isn’t it? All those words. What order do you put them in? Will anybody read it? And, why should they?
I’ve become a writer, by default. Years of directing television shows, years of sitting in the edit – being forced to explore why something works and why something else – well, perhaps needs cajoling. I’ve witnessed excellent writing all but destroyed by ‘the system’ and vice versa – I’ve seen terrible writing saved by judicial editing and slight of hand. I have simply chosen to throw myself on the sword. Or the pen. Whichever is mightier?
Which writer, past or present, do you most admire?
Billy Wilder and Christopher McQuarrie. Past and present.
What was your first published (or performed) credit as a writer?
A performed reading of a play in the Oxford Playhouse called Rebuilding Myself. It was shocking. Nudity, for the sake of it. Swearing, because it was cool. It was appalling. Perhaps it was so bad it was good? No.
Which piece of writing work are you most proud of?
Which of my children do I prefer? Broken Cove was a breakthrough for me – it got me signed in the US and opened doors.
Who or what inspires you to write?
I’m inspired by necessity. As a jobbing television director, I simply wasn’t being offered the kind of films that I wanted to see – or wanted to invest my heart and soul into directing. So, rather than bemoaning – how hard done by I was – I simply started writing my own scripts.
How do you switch off when you’re not writing?
I don’t switch off. Not really.
Which one piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?
To aspiring scriptwriters my only advice is to just sit down and actually write. Just get it done. You can do it. If I can, anybody can. Learn your craft. Read as many screenplays as you can. There are plenty of resources online nowadays. The Black List is a great place to get discovered (it worked for me).
Why are you a member of WGGB?
I’m a member of the WGGB because writers need a voice and a supportive representative organisation with backbone. With the constantly changing global content market, individually we are easily isolated and exploited. But as a united voice we are strong. The WGGB is like a swan – all very calm on top – whilst underneath the legs are paddling like [insert your own expletive].
Declan O’Dwyer is a Black Listed writer and director.