Five reasons why you should enter the Alfred Bradley Bursary Award

Writer

1. Deadlines are good

If you're anything at all like me, actually forcing yourself to sit down and write can be tough. There's always something more pressing - TV, Twitter, frankly even cleaning can look attractive when faced with what seems like the gargantuan task of writing a play. And of course it's impossible to get started until you've been visited by some spectacular flash of inspiration, right? ...Wrong. You just need to start, and then continue and then finish, at which point you will have something, and however rubbish you think it is, it is definitely better than the blank page you started with. Unlike a blank page, it can be developed and refined and has the potential to be something great. Embrace the deadline. Use its immovability to spur you on to the finish and write the play you have been thinking of writing and talking yourself out of for a while.

2. Money buys time and confidence

The competition offers 5k prize money and the chance of being commissioned (paid!) to write something for Radio 4, which let's face it, is pretty attractive. Not because it could buy you an awesome holiday (though it was tempting!), but because it could buy you some time. A period during which you can write without the distraction of the little voice that tells you that writing will never pay the rent and you need to do something more constructive. It's psychological too, for me it was the first time i'd been paid to write anything, and it made me feel like a proper writer. I'm sure there are loads of writers out there who don't need that kind of external validation, but I wasn't one of them. It was a massive boost to my confidence.

3. Some things are worth more than money

Winning the prize brings with it a whole load of non financial benefits too. Suddenly some very influential people are aware of you, and more than that are committed to helping and championing you. You're mentored and supported in the writing of your commissioned play by people who believe in you and want nothing more than to see your career flourish. For me it felt like getting off the starting blocks. When I entered the competition I was working full time in the prison service and writing plays that I never expected to have a life beyond the prison walls. Two years on, I have an agent and I'm working full time as a writer. I'm Playwright in Residence at The Manchester Royal Exchange, under commission to Old Vic New Voices, my TV credits include Doctors, Waterloo Road, Youngers and my first original TV idea, a short film for BBC iPlayer, starts filming this week. This would have seemed unthinkable at the point that I entered the ABBA, and I feel incredibly fortunate that it has acted as a catalyst in this way. The slightly scary thing is that I almost didn't enter because the little voice (the same one that tells you to wait for the flash of inspiration and that writing will never pay the rent) tried to convince me that there was no point - there'll be lots of scripts and they'll all be better than mine!

4. Radio rocks

Writing for radio is liberating. What can be achieved with sound is amazing. There is a particular relationship between the listener and the drama that isn't replicated in any other medium. You can literally take a radio audience anywhere within the universe - or indeed any other universe and they, in partnership with you, the producer and actors, will do the work needed to create that world in their minds. I can't think of another medium where the same level of freedom and opportunity exists. And of course if you're going to write for radio, then the Radio 4 afternoon play slot, with just under a million listeners, is hardly a shabby starting point!

5. Why not?

So there's lots to gain and absolutely nothing to lose. Not getting anywhere in the competition doesn't mean your play isn't good or that you aren't any good. I've entered tons of competitions that I didn't get anywhere in and I'll probably enter loads more. But if you don't enter, you'll never know. I think that's what they call a 'no brainer'. So why are you still reading this? Go and do it... go! ...And good luck!

Cat Jones was the recipient of the 2011 Alfred Bradley Bursary Award. Find out more about Cat and her writing & follow her on Twitter: @_CatJonesFind out more about the Alfred Bradley Bursary Award for Northern radio drama writers and how you can enter. Submissions open on the BBC writersroom site from 9th December 2013 - 10th January 2014.

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments.

  • Comment number 13. Posted by beerfagjoy

    on 20 Nov 2013 19:46

    Thanks, ebro. I'm conscious writers are exploited with competitions and lures of recognition, which tends to feather the nest of a few canny managers or businessmen. To be perfectly honest, I have no interest in writing for television. It's good practice though to write in unfamiliar territory, ie. the watch-what -you-say-and-who-to kind of stuff. In fact, I'm loitering in civil service territory. Gawd, scary stuff. I think I'll buy a lottery ticket.

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 13: 1
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 13: 1
    Loading…
  • Comment number 12. Posted by Ebro

    on 20 Nov 2013 15:17

    I feel your pain beerfagjoy, I’m frustrated that the Writers Room seems limited in scope and possibilities – I don’t want to write for Doctors or Holby. But then again, I don’t think they’re after another D. Potter – they want jobbing writers. I’m not sure we are providing the ‘gift’ – we’re providing evidence we can deliver what they want. And yet I find myself browsing this site time and again for industry news and word of competitions
    Consider the average half-decent call for submissions in any writing competition. Often you’re up against thousands. It’s about luck, talent and maybe a hint of that subtle, even subconscious, perfume known as class. We can soldier on or howl at the moon. Anyhow, I wish Cat well.

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 12: 1
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 12: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 11. Posted by beerfagjoy

    on 20 Nov 2013 14:21

    Ebro. Cheers for an optimist! I'm a writer who asks questions. I have no allegiance to an organisation or a person. I've heard a rumour the Writers' Room keeps a raft of people in jobs but there are no jobs for writers or a system to bring them on. Competition winners wander around for a while and then disappear. It's something I'm following up.

    Gift horses? The writer is providing the gift. We give the gift of employment to a team of BBC employees who have nowhere for us to go.

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 11: 1
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 11: 1
    Loading…
  • Comment number 10. Posted by Ebro

    on 20 Nov 2013 11:40

    Time was, when starting out, that I was cynical and bitter. There seemed to be a conspiracy that prevented the world from discovering my incredible talent. As time went by, my writing maturity grew commensurate with my grasp on reality. Now I’m still a wannabe, and still fairly cynical in many ways, but getting tiny successes here and there. Still haven’t broken through, but it’s so close I can smell it. Sure, in many areas of life ‘knowing people’ gets you there quicker. Sad but true. Which means you have to work harder to break through. Looking gift horses in the mouth, like the Writers Room, would be to cut your nose off to spite your face. Embrace it. Learn to love it. Chill.

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 10: 1
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 10: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 9. Posted by Anne

    on 19 Nov 2013 14:46

    Thanks for the advice. I'll give it a try.

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 9: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 9: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 8. Posted by chaffinch

    on 19 Nov 2013 10:53

    Anne: If you are using MS Word, use the Styles facility. See Word Help for instructions. If not, just use tabs, caps lock etc. It's what we all did pre-computers.

    At the recent radio master class the organisers said that Radio isn't obsessive about formatting. This is evident just from the range within the script library. There's no right or wrong. Just a clear. Choose any of the scripts, copy its formatting and stick to it.

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 8: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 8: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 7. Posted by Anne

    on 18 Nov 2013 20:05

    Would love to enter but am having trouble with scriptwriting software for radio. None of the ones I use (Final Draft and Celtx) format my script in the way the BBC suggests in its guide or as Cat Jones formats her scripts. Can anybody help?

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 7: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 7: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 6. Posted by beerfagjoy

    on 17 Nov 2013 09:45

    Oops. Grammar, grammar. 'The financial benefits of Writing for Theatre.' WE NEED AN EDIT BUTTON.

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 6: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 6: 2
    Loading…
  • Comment number 5. Posted by beerfagjoy

    on 17 Nov 2013 09:40

    Morning Chris. Yep, it's a lottery. I happen to know that one of the brightest literary talents to emerge in this country submitted a script and they were rejected without comment. Writers Room management and employees (they must outnumber successful writers by about 300 to 1) should clarify what they mean by 'talent'. I believe it's either mainstream or writing around a current social topic.

    We must look to our TV screens for clarification, however I would welcome a Writers Room blog on 'The financial benefits for Writing for Theatre.'

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 5: 1
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 5: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 4. Posted by Chris Neville-Smith

    on 16 Nov 2013 13:44

    Okay, I am going to sound extraordinarily ungrateful here, seeing that I'm a finalist in the other prestigious regional writing competition (The People's Play), and have probably benefitted from being able to promote this fact, but ...

    The problem with this article is that it sounds very much like a lottery winner telling you how great and life-changing their fortune is. I don't dispute the benefits of winning the award, but, like winning the lottery, the odds are heavily against it being you. Okay, finalists can also benefit in various ways, but there's no getting round the fact that the vast majority of people who enter a competition gain nothing.

    In constrast, whenever I do anything off my own back, I'm certain to gain something from it. Even if it bombs, I can see for myself what worked and what didn't, learn lessons, and get better. For me, that wins hands down. I realise I could always do both - but, being brutally honest, the reason I usually don't is that I can't be bothered.

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 4: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 4: 0
    Loading…
More comments

More Posts

Previous

Next