Mostly lessons I’d learnt from years of submitting with very minimal success. I’d been submitting since February 2017, but wasn’t having much luck. I’d had a couple of things in the script but cut from the edit and two broadcast credits – a one liner and a sketch.
I’ve now had material in every series from 19 – 22. I have been added to the list of Newsjack Unplugged writers and have had a few credits from that. And now, as we prepare to go into series 23, I’ve been invited to join the writers room for one episode.
My point is that everything the BBC says about Newsjack is true. If you put the work in, consistently deliver decent material and stick to the brief – you can get credits. You can get opportunities to work on other programmes and you can get paid to be a commissioned writer, working as part of the Newsjack team.
Apart from putting in the work (which is the only way to have any real success with Newsjack), there were a couple of things that led directly to my improved submission game.
The first was going to see a live recording. I know this isn’t possible at the moment but as soon as it’s safe to again, make sure you go at least once. Even if you have to travel and make a holiday of it.
The second was the realisation that actual people are behind Newsjack. I know, it’s weird but it’s not really all the work of an illustrated cat!
If you get something into the script but cut at the edit, you’ll be notified by email on Thursday evening. REPLY to this email*. Be a nice person. Ask which of your submissions was cut. Someone from the team will get back to you, maybe a day or two later. Not only does this help you to understand where you’re going right with your submissions, but it’ll help you build rapport with the team.
The team genuinely want you to do well. They want to read amazing sketches and one liners from people who understand the show and have original, creative, funny ideas. By building up a relationship with the team, they will get to know you and will give you feedback and encouragement when possible.
This is exactly what happened to me.
Going into last series, I approached the team and flat our asked to come into the writers room. It was a no-go. The slots had all been assigned and I wasn’t on the list. But one of the producers was kind enough to message to say that I’d been doing well and was on the right track. She offered to provide me with feedback and said that I should try and get a sketch in the script (I’d focussed on one liners the previous series).
Thanks to this encouragement and the knowledge that people were noticing my submissions, I treated the series like it was my last. I went ALL in. The result?
Episode 1 – Sketch broadcast
Episode 2 – One liner cut
Episode 3 – Nothing
Episode 4 – One liner broadcast
Episode 4 – Sketch cut
Episode 6 – Sketch cut
When you keep in mind that PEOPLE are reading your submissions, it becomes a lot easier. Write stuff that they’re going to enjoy. Surprise them. Make them laugh. And keep going EVERY week.
To get you pumped up and ready to go, I’ll be releasing another blog soon full of tips and advice from fellow writers.
A new series of Newsjack – let’s do this!
Until then, you can read all my other posts about writing for Newsjack here.
* Also save the email address into your VIP contacts on your phone. This way you’ll get a notification pop up if they email again to say you made it into a script or broadcast. It takes a LOT of the stress and desperation out of your Thursday evenings. No inbox refreshing required.