Originally from Louisiana, Ryan Devitt is a bartender by night. But by day, he’s working on his personal project to create a new television show! He’s traveled around a lot but ultimately came back to New York City recently because it’s “a place where people that make things live and work.” Keep reading to see his progress!
“I am working on a television series I’m trying to create right now. It’s a historical drama, so there’s a lot of research that I’ve been doing for a long time.
Ryan is currently researching, structuring his stories, writing episodes, and planning for character arcs.
He has been doing this for about two and a half years, although it wasn’t until a year ago that he began devoting the majority of his time to this project.
“I got really serious about it when I was back home. I was staying with my parents at the time and didn’t need a lot of money, so I was… able to spend my evenings just writing two to three hours a day. I just slowly became more and more interested in [it]. I transitioned over to focus on it and make it the primary sink of my time other than just the money that I had to make just to live.”
What got Ryan into the project was curiosity. The topic initially interested him but as he researched it, it was evident that this could become a project that he could create.
“At some point in the last year, it sort of kicked into having a regularity to it and I kept coming back to it… kept putting more and more work into it. There’s just a momentum to it. I guess you could call it a sunk-cost sort of situation,” Ryan said with a laugh.
This project is important to Ryan as it deals with “political aspects of the Cold War of the 60s. A lot of the details of that time have gotten glossed over in popular culture. Exactly what that time was about, what the arguments were about, are not really well known to the public.”
Although that isn’t the central aspect of his project, Ryan thinks that this topic is more important than ever given current news about relations with Russia.
Ryan is excited to find other people to get involved in with the project in the next few months. “Of course, I have good friends and family that I’ve asked to be involved in some way and they’re excited about it and happy for me but to get somebody else involved that doesn’t have connection otherwise to me would be good.”
Ryan completed the final draft of the first episode of the series in January. It wasn’t easy.
“It took me a really long time to get there because I’ve never written anything for TV… I started off with the advice I’ve been given a million times about other things which is to start before you know what you’re doing or to push through the feeling of inadequacy because everybody had to be inadequate at some point and tried. That was difficult, to write something that I know is garbage and to leave it on the page because I need something on the page… to work until I had something to really work with. That process was very gratifying, once I had my first draft.
“The process of taking my first draft and turning it into my second draft, which in my eyes, are two drastically different things, only took me about two and a half, three months, but that was a lot of fun. The first draft was like a slog, it was difficult, and I just tried to discipline myself and push it.” Ryan had to teach himself the whole process and screenplay format as he had never taken any writing courses in college.
Ryan also had trouble learning to commit his time to the project. He has a tendency to devote himself to his work even if there was no benefit to himself. “I’ve had to change my work personality to be able to really protect the time that I have to work on what I really want to do. I can try to be a people pleaser and if someone needs something from me, I’ll be the guy to rescue you… But now I’ve had to say ‘No I can’t make those decisions anymore. I don’t have that extra time to give’ because I’ve already mentally devoted that time to my project.”
The Juncture Point of Preparation and Fortune
“One of the concepts that’s been very helpful to me is actually from Malcolm Gladwell from his book Outliers which is that success comes along at this juncture point of preparation and being at the right place at the right time. That’s a combination of ‘I have control of my destiny’, empowered, internal vision of control and the unempowered, given to the forces of nature, ‘I don’t have control, this is out of my hands.’ He just synthesizes those two ideas really beautifully.
“You just realize you’re going to have to be lucky in some way, but luck can come along and you’re not prepared to take advantage of it. That to me was encouragement to discipline myself because I get overwhelmed sometimes with the concept of working futilely. Working on something, working on something, and working on something that’s not going to pan out.”
Many of Ryan’s of ideas have been halted by thoughts such as “This isn’t going to work, this isn’t going to be anything for me, this isn’t going to be a point of connection to anybody, no one’s going to be interested in it.”
“And certainly some of those ideas are good to have, to know that you can’t just be enthusiastic about something. You can’t just put all your energy into something and expect to get back something from it. You have to do that and also be fortunate to accomplish something meaningful.”