All about Michaela Coel
Michaela Coel – producer, director, screenwriter, actor – is about as hot a writing property as you can get. Despite being overlooked by the Golden Globes for I May Destroy You, Coel’s star is on the up, both in the UK and America.
Despite recent successes, it’s not been an easy ride for Coel, and her time spent cutting her teeth means she has plenty of advice for aspiring writers trying to make their way in the business.
Let’s check out Coel’s writing wisdom for some inspiration!
1) Always be yourself
“I think you just have to do you, whatever that is, and not feel like you have to be a certain way for other people to like you — that’s bullsh*t.”
2) Keep the end in mind and don’t get bogged down in the process
“I don’t like working – I just like having done the end product. The process, I like to make it quick and painful.”
3) Follow your instincts
“You have to be true to your instinctive way of writing. You have to find your identity.”
4) Don’t let fear of failure stop you
“We can put fear of the future in front of us to block us, or behind us to drive us forward. I feel like telling all the people who look like me to start trying to write. You don’t know it’s possible because it’s not often in front of you.”
5) Get on with it!
“Don’t sit there and complain. Rub your hands together and figure out what to do.”
6) Choose who you discuss your ideas with
“When I think of the things that I want to write, I can never say them out loud because I know how crazy they sound. I know what things sound like when you haven’t actually worked on the script, so I don’t go around saying some of these ideas because they just sound awful.”
7) Remember the power of writing
“I see my shows like Gandhi, and I’ve got little baby Gandhis, and they are changing the world. I know that I’m a bit delusional about that, but I do think of them like Gandhi. They are not celebrities: they are like Gandhi and Mother Teresa.”
8) Don’t limit your expectations or viewpoint
“Recently, I’ve understood that storytelling is really a service like a beauty therapist, masseuse, or a servant. One of the many reasons I love it so much is because I can include various types of people in the stories. If I write 55 different characters, 55 different people get to join the party, which is great because then you get to see variation on screen, a representation of real life. It’s a way of helping people, of making them feel good about themselves. That’s what I do.”
9) But equally, try to find creativity in constraints
“When you’re restricted, sometimes that’s where you find great things: in the lack of possibility.”
10) Find the heart in your writing
“I don’t believe in comedy as a TV genre – I think there’s drama that is funny. Because beyond the laughs, there has to be cost, and there has to be heart.”
What writers can learn
Writing, even when it’s writing about your own experience, takes hard graft and commitment – Coel wrote 41 drafts of her breakthrough series, Chewing Gum and 191 drafts of I May Destroy You!
And in a tough business, remember … It’s not just about staying true to your writing ideas, it’s also about sticking by your beliefs about what’s right and wrong. Coel fought hard to maintain creative control and the financial rights to her work, but she is also renowned for fighting the corner for marginalised people in the industry, both on and offscreen.
Writer, producer, director, actor, trailblazer – if that doesn’t inspire you to find some to get writing, nothing will!