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

The past two days I’ve talked about how to become successful as a screenwriter, addressing issues such as purpose and tenacity, today, I’ll discuss a couple of things most people take for granted, but are extremely important.

Appreciate How Far You’ve Come

Be grateful!  No one will give you more if you’re not appreciative of what you’ve got.  This is a simple lesson, but really hard to recognize in yourself when you’re in this headspace. But think about it, if you go to a friend’s house for dinner and tell them you hate their cooking then ask for more dessert, do you think they’ll want to give you more?  Do you think you’ll ever be invited back for dinner?  If you are constantly focused on what you’re not getting, you’re not going to see what you ARE getting.

You may not be getting produced, but are you getting read?  That’s HUGE!  I remember a time when NO ONE would reply to my query letters let alone read anything of mine.  Now, I get a response to almost every query I send out and get asked to submit to a decent percentage of those.  What have you accomplished?

Truly successful people know there’s no such thing as failure.

Failure is not doing.  How can you fail if you didn’t do anything?  Doing is succeeding.  You made a decision to write.  You’re already ahead of the game.  Then you took a course; another successful step toward your goal.  Then you finished your first script.  Then you got feedback and rewrote it.  You kept learning and growing, rewriting and writing new things.  You sent it out and got rejected until you got someone to read it only to tell you it sucked.  You rewrote it and sent it out again.  How exactly is this failing?  It is a series of steps required to get a desired outcome: to figure out how to write and market a screenplay that sells.  Not like it’s never been done before.  So talk to someone who has done it or read their biography and follow what they did.  You figure out how to write a great script and get someone to read it who has friends and it will fall into the right hands.

Get a Life

Balance is so important.  You need to live in order to write.  You need to be fulfilled as a whole and complete person in order to be happy.  You can’t write if you’re depressed.  Unless you write about being depressed.  Get active, workout, stay healthy, go socialize, date, clean your apartment, get out of your PJ’s and into the shower, go outside and get fresh air.  Life exists outside a monitor yet that’s where we have to spend most of our time.  When your life is in balance, your priorities are in line, your desperation disappears.  You aren’t eager to sell your script to the first person who comes along, you don’t write something for free or because you need the money.  You have vision and confidence, which is extremely powerful.  Keep doing your thing and eventually people will come to you.

That’s a lot to take in so I’ll summarize for you:

  1. Stick With It
  2. If What You’re Doing isn’t Working, Change What You’re Doing
  3. It’s Okay to Redefine Your Dream
  4. Know WHY You MUST be a Screenwriter
  5. Let Go of Your Idea of Success
  6. Appreciate How Far You’ve Come
  7. Get a Life

Notice I didn’t say anything about the quality of your script or ideas.  If you really and truly want to be a produced screenwriter, you will find a way to do it.  It has nothing to do with the quality of your writing.  There are plenty of shitty films out there.  But if your dream is to write for Hollywood, you do need a great script, so yes, that’s important.  But trust that you will find your niche if you follow those seven keys listed above.  Your dream is to be a writer and you are writing, you’re doing it already!  Now go be a professional screenwriter and send me a ticket to the premiere!