Scriptcat’s 3 strategic screenwriting survival tips for your journey…
January 23, 2015 § Leave a comment
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, first of all—THANK YOU! I truly hope you’re busy creating and forging ahead on your screenwriting journey and you’ve been able to take away a few nuggets of advice that helped. As you may know, I’ve been adding short posts (nothing is EVER short on this blog!) and sharing various survival tips. I do speak about these in the various articles on this blog, but this feature will be a quick reference to glance over and consider as you navigate your screenwriting journey. Download my new free app SCREENWRITING GURU from Yapp—includes tips from my upcoming book with a hopeful spring 2015 publishing date. So, in addition to my tips on Twitter (@scriptcat), I’ll be posting new ones here from time to time. Thanks for reading and as always: Carry on, keep the faith and keep screenwriting!
Did you reach your screenwriting goals in 2015? No? Okay, maybe these tips will help on this new year’s journey…
TIP #1 NOTHING PERSONAL, BUT NO ONE CARES!
The longer you slug it out in Hollywood’s trenches, you’ll learn that it’s important not to expect anything from the film business. Never expect anyone to love your screenplay as much as you do—that goes for your agent, manager or producer. And don’t expect anyone to care about your career as much a you do. It’s your responsibility to steer your career in a direction that you want. If you go into this business with eyes wide and your head in the clouds believing that success will be easy, you’ll soon be crushed by the reality of feedback. As Lao Tzu wrote: “Act without expectation.” It’s a good philosophy to follow on the long haul journey to any level of screenwriting success.
TIP #2 YOUR TIME IS PRECIOUS & WORTH MONEY!
And what about time? You don’t get it back on your deathbed. It’s your greatest asset or your worst enemy. It depends on how you use your precious time to create a solid body of work and continue to become a better screenwriter. That’s why I ask if you have an artist’s mentality — or the insanity to believe that even as you stare into the dark void of the unknown, your burning passion will guide you across yet another hurdle. You’ll need to withstand continued rejection, criticism, failure, and even sometimes ridicule — and if you can remain strong and shout with confidence, “I am a screenwriter” and truly believe it, because you are doing the work. Sacrificing the time to create a solid body of work and not just talking about what you’d like to be doing.
TIP #3 DEADLINES, DEADLINES, DEADLINES…
If you want to eventually work professionally, as I’m sure is your goal, you will need to work efficiently under a deadline, and at the best of your ability. It’s basically working quickly at the best of your creativity on a schedule and under a deadline. The only way to train for this is to always set your own deadlines and meet them every time with your spec screenplays. If you’re not practicing working under a strict writing schedule now, I’d suggest starting it on your next project. Write the same time every day, make your page count and get the job done. When you do land a screenwriting job, you don’t want to be without this vital ability and experience and then struggle to finish your new paid job under a deadline.
You may write a half-dozen specs that don’t sell before one of them secures you an assignment job from a producer or studio. Keep writing and finding your unique voice, keep mastering your craft, and really think about why you are writing your spec. What you write about is as important as how you write it. You never know the perils that await you on your pathway to success, but the road is definitely paved with your spec screenplays—it just might take a half-dozen or more.
Keep the faith and filling your blank pages because if you stop you’re guaranteed never to have any shot at success.
Dig my new screenwriting app SCREENWRITING GURU — now free from Yapp. Weekly script tips, video tips, and links to my social media pages with valuable information for your journey.
Visit and subscribe to my new YOUTUBE CHANNEL for weekly screenplay videos.
Did you just complete your new screenplay? Time for in-depth consultation? Check out my screenwriting consultation services by clicking on the blue icon below for the link to my website and more information.
Having a hard time reaching your screenwriting goals? Maybe my on-demand webinar can help. Check out “A Screenwriter’s Checklist: 10 Questions Every Screenwriter Must Answer to Stay in the Game” now available in two parts, each $14.99 and available for streaming access rental. Click on the photo below for the link to the website.
“We all have the tendency to want to take the quickest, easiest path to our goals, but we generally manage to control our impatience; we understand the superior value of getting what we want through hard work. For some people, however, this inveterate lazy streak is far too powerful.”—Robert Greene, “Mastery”
“If a writer stops observing, he is finished.”—Ernest Hemingway
“Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure. But the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it. [F]ailure means a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself to be anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena where I believe I truly belonged. [R]ock bottom became the solid foundation on which I built my life.” ~ J.K. Rowling
“This is, if not a lifetime process, it’s awfully close to it. The writer broadens, becomes deeper, becomes more observant, becomes more tempered, becomes much wiser over a period time passing. It is not something that is injected into him by a needle. It is not something that comes on a wave of flashing, explosive light one night and say, ‘Huzzah! Eureka! I’ve got it!’ and then proceeds to write the great American novel in eleven days. It doesn’t work that way. It’s a long, tedious, tough, frustrating process, but never, ever be put aside by the fact that it’s hard.”—Rod Serling
Most writers can’t tell at the premise stage whether they’ve got a good story because they don’t have the training to see the deep structural problems in the idea before writing it as a script.”—John Truby
“Luck is a prepared screenwriter who meets an opportunity and delivers the goods.”—Scriptcat