How to regain your confidence as a screenwriter…
January 9, 2018 § Leave a comment
It’s time again for a guest blogger here on MY BLANK PAGE!
Appearing for his fifth time with another superb contribution about screenwriting in the trenches… welcome back U.K. based screenwriter Niraj Kapur.
“How to regain your confidence as a screenwriter” by Niraj Kapur.
You’ve been rejected by managers who say, “you’re not what we’re looking for.” A script reader requests your scripts then never returns your phone call or email. You spend hours waiting to meet an agent who doesn’t even show up despite the fact you reminded them the day before. A producer agrees to option your script, then tries to pay you less than minimum wage.
You pour heart and soul into anything you care about, you sometimes get good results.
Writing has a different set of rules. There are absolutely zero guarantees.
The internet has helped lots of artists get exposure, especially musicians. As a screenwriter, you still need a producer, director, crew and lots of investment which most writers don’t have access to.
I’ve seen talented screenwriters give up after several years of struggle and seen many slightly above average writers make it because they had family connections, childhood friends in the business, or got on well with a producer’s assistant at a party. A friend of mine who has never written in his life received a paid option because he’s best friends with an upcoming movie star. Did he spend years toiling at his craft? No, he wrote a rough treatment in a week. That’s it!
Can you imagine how that feels?
This business can easily drive you mad and knock your confidence. So how do you stay sane and how do you rebuild your confidence and find work after constant rejection?
Here’s what I did which helped me recently get a producer and director attached to my new Irish drama screenplay, Belfast Son.
- Take care of your health.
Sitting down all day is not good for you and the gym isn’t for everyone. Walking 30 minutes a day is a good start. I’ve tried yoga which aches and mediation which sends me to sleep. However if that works for you, please enjoy. Reiki has worked well for maintaining my inner calm.
- Take care of your nutrition.
I’ve cut out carbs at lunch and have more energy in the afternoon. I also avoid chocolate until end of the day which is torture, but worth it for the increased focus and concentration I get when writing.
- Find a writing support group.
I have a group of five writers called The Gamechangers. We make it a policy that it’s a support group, so although you can whine and complain about your frustrations sometimes, it’s more important to be positive and help each other out.
- Keep in touch with people who said “no.”
I contacted forty producers and agents I’ve known over the years who I liked, yet who turned down my work. I simply wrote them a letter, since hardly anyone received letters these days, telling them about my adventures attending pitching events in L.A. and that I had a new project that may interest them with a simple logline.
- Twenty-six of them didn’t get back to me.
- Seven replied saying were two busy.
- Four didn’t like my concept.
- Three of them liked my logline and asked to read my screenplay.
- Two producers said they would like to make it
- Only one of them actually contacted me and offered to option the screenplay.
- Follow inspirational people on Twitter.
@katherinefugate – writer of Valentine’s Day and New Years Eve.
@jakethornton – screenwriter making huge waves.
@stephenking – a master at everything he does.
@jk_rowling – no explanation needed. Simply amazing.
@bang2write – amazing resource for writers.
@indust_scripts – writing services and excellent industrial events.
@barackobama – inspirational.
@Markruffalo – fighting for everyday people.
@officialjimrohn – the father of personal development
@bettemidler – biting and very funny
@sarahksilverman – compassionate, caring, very funny
- Write every day.
Most writers I know have a 9-5 job. Then they try to write on top of that. When you have family commitments, that makes writing even tougher. Writing one hour a day, even 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes over lunch is better than nothing.
That’s all it took to rebuild my confidence. The producer liked my screenplay so much, he has a director on board and is now seeking financing.
Niraj Kapur has had several screenplays optioned, sitcoms commissioned, and his movie Naachle London was released in British cinemas in 2012. His non-fiction book, Everybody Works in Sales, will be released March 20. Visit his website at www.nirajkapur.com.