Speak Easy With Haroon S1:E2

David Young: From Brookside Screenwriter to Young Adult Author

“I think the reason I wrote a book that worked was because I had to fucking sell it.” – David Young, Screenwriter/Author

Imagine paying off your mortgage with a credit card…

Not a good sign. 

But it was the reality that David had to face after being let go from his screenwriter role at the famous TV series, Brookside

Born and bred in Scotland, David Young, now in his fifties, found his love for writing at the age of sixteen. And he’s been writing since then, with the last 22 years of his life actually being paid for it.

He’s been a professional screenwriter/novelist since the age of thirty. 

But his journey was rough. 

In fact, he even mentions in this chat with Haroon that sometimes it’s best not to know what you’re getting into as a creative. Because if you knew the entirety of all the challenges that would come your way, you’ll probably be tempted to choose another path – one that’s safe. 

Needless to say, David’s own story is filled with suspenseful scenes where it seemed that his artistic dream wasn’t pulling him along. 

Until one day it did…

He told his story and shared some helpful lessons for anyone trying to fuel their artistic dream while battling the realities of life. 

And also a thing or two about Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Let’s dive into the highlights…

Show Notes 

  • David’s early life and writing. (1:50)
  • How growing up in Scotland in the 1980s influenced David’s journey as a writer. (4:10)
  • David shares about his deformity and being amputated at seventeen. (6:53)
  • The reality of being a writer. (8:10)
  • What would David have done differently as a writer if he knew then what he knows now? (9:30)
  • Why does it help to be a little bit naive as a creator? (11:10)
  • The importance of filtering feedback. (12:45)
  • The difference between screenwriting in the UK and the US. (16:00)
  • The creative subconscious vs. writing as manual labour. 
  • About the London Writers’ Salon. (26:30)
  • David’s take on the notion of overnight success and the average amount of time it would take for writers to become paid. (30:00)
  • How did the academic system affect how people view art and cultural products, despite the huge economy it produces? (32:30)
  • Bracing yourself for reviews as you find your readership. (38:18)
  • Written content in reviews versus the star ratings. (40:30)
  • David’s thoughts on rejection. (42:12)
  • What does it take for someone to recognize a potentially successful piece of work? (47:09)
  • David’s view on how living below your means can benefit creators. (51:45)
  • David’s approach to writing and not having an alternative. (54:15)
  • David shares why he believes in writing sprints and how he goes about it. (1:00:25)
  • On writing every day. (1:02:30)
  • Why David recommends you should create a writing spreadsheet. (1:05:20)
  • What did David’s experience writing for Brookside teach him? (1:07:42)
  • Why should you brace yourself for being fired as a screenwriter? (1:11:54)
  • David’s thoughts on starting out and money versus legacy. (1:15:35)
  • David’s take on how experiential research made him a better writer. (1:17:55)
  • David’s views on toxic masculinity and where it came from. (1:24:00)
  • David’s journey and lessons from Brazilian jiu-jitsu. (1:28:53)
  • How David spotted the Kindle publishing trend and his next move. (1:39:35)
  • What do most writers need to know when signing with a traditional publisher? (1:42:23)
  • David’s current projects in relation to crime and police presence. (1:43:45)

Final advice to writers, artists, and creatives (1:51:05) 

  • “If you want to be a writer, you have to write… that’s the key to absolutely everything. You have to sit down and you have to find your way of doing that. 
  • “Set yourself a place and a time every day to sit down and do the work. And even if you do half an hour a day, that can take you where you want to go.” 

People mentioned 

Marcus Rashford 

James Baldwin

James Kelman 

Alesdair Gray 

Jeff Goins

Steven Pressfield 

Brian Koppleman 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Irvine Welsh

Conor McGregor 

Anthony Bourdain 

Russell Brand 

Helpful links 

Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age by Jeff Goins

The London Writers’ Salon

Atlanta (TV series)

The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron 

Where can I find David?

Website | Twitter | Instagram

Is there a lesson that stuck out to you the most? Let us know in the comments.

About the host 

Haroon Khan is a tech copywriter by day and poet by night. Among his artistic pursuits is this podcast where he interviews creatives who’ve already done it. Whether that’s writing a book, making a movie, or an album. He’s documenting their challenges, how they overcame them, and helping you discover how you can too.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *