The Key to Becoming a Successful Screenwriter – Part II of III

Yesterday, I wrote mainly about perseverance.  Sticking with it is one thing, but knowing why you’re doing it will keep you going farther and harder than anything especially when things aren’t going well.

Know WHY You MUST be a Screenwriter

Everyone and his mother has a screenplay in L.A., everyone seems to think it’s easy, and for some, it is.  But for most people without connections or a natural gift, it’s hard.  It takes years of dedication, hard work, and personal sacrifice to break in.  Passion for writing and movies is not enough.  If your entire focus is on ‘getting somewhere’, you’ll never actually get anywhere.  You’ll never be satisfied so you’ll eventually either quit or burn out.

You need to figure out what your purpose in life is and how writing serves that purpose.

How do you figure out your purpose?  What excites you, what drives you, what tend to be the common themes or controlling ideas in your work?  What irritates you, what do you hate?  The opposite of that is what you’re passionate about and in that, you’ll find your purpose in life.  Keep it simple, but it must be about what you have to offer and how serves other people.

For example: My purpose in life is to use my crazy humor and unbelievable childish energy to educate and inspire children to have compassion for others especially when faced with violence or ignorance. Screenwriting allows me to reach kids worldwide in an immediately impressionable way that lasts a lifetime.

It doesn’t have to be perfect and you can shape it as you go, but figure it out now.  Once you figure this out clearly, everything will fall into place.  Clearly, this person would see that his serious Western action-adventure doesn’t fit his purpose, so no wonder he can’t finish it. What he needs to do is scrap it or turn it into a kids’ film.  When your scripts match your purpose, your controlling ideas will be clearer and you’ll be able to sell your scripts easily because you’re naturally passionate about the subject.  Not only that, but this guy can now get actively involved in his community to serve his purpose and that will expand his social connections with like-minded people, which could lead to someone producing his script!

Let Go of Your Idea of Success

Do you know how many people say, “I’ve got an idea for a screenplay, I just haven’t written it yet.”?  You’re already a success because you ARE writing!  Pat yourself on the back for that.  Okay, that’s enough.  None of us decided to become screenwriters to just write, right?  We want to see the damned thing on the big screen (or the small screen).

No one can define what success means to you but you.

Success is a matter of perception.  You might think you’re a failure because you didn’t make a block buster $300 million dollar film in your entire career, but you ended up making fifty movies all grossing three times that and you have the respect of your peers.  To everyone else, you’re a success, but you’re totally depressed because you wanted to make Superman movies not Schindler’s List.   Johnny Depp, one of the most successful and talented actors of all time considers himself a failure because he wanted to be a rock star.

If your goal is to be a produced Hollywood screenwriter, there are many ways to accomplish that.  It might not come in the package you expected so either you need to be very clear on what you want and why you want it so you don’t get sidetracked, or you need to be grateful for what comes your way.  You can always change directions later.

Tomorrow, Part III of III – The Importance of Appreciation