October, 2012 Edition
1) The Impatient Screenwriter by Jim Cirile
2) Shorties - Screenwriting News, Tidbits and Disinformation
3) Should You Choose an Agent, Manager or Attorney? by Steve Kaire
4) Relationships, Relationships, Relationships -- Guest blog by Barri Evins
***NEWS FLASH: Writers on the Storm 2011 Winners Brooks Elms & Glenn Sanders have just signed with UTA!***
THE IMPATIENT SCREENWRITER
Hello, friends! I think it's high time we discuss... wait for it... patience, specifically as it applies to writers. No one talks about this, and yet it may be the single most important issue for us to comes to grip with. Specifically I mean: we writers don't freaking have any. And this lack of patience can often lead to us making bone-headed mistakes, over and over again.
Let me put it to you like this: how many years should a professional athlete have to practice before making the bigs? Or how about an architect who designs state-of-the-art high-rises -- how about it, four years from beginning his studies to designing that building is plenty of time, right? (Hell, I ain't renting a suite in there.) Or how about the surgeon who's going to remove your appendix -- if she started studying medicine four years ago, then, brother, you'd best have a good probate attorney. And all those professionals are likely studying their field intensely, doing nothing else, for four, six, eight or more years. Screenwriting? Most of us allocate an hour or two a day maybe, read a couple articles, watch a movie. Please.
Why should writing be any easier to master than any other well-paid profession?
When you break in, you may be entrusted with a project with significant investment behind it as well as, potentially, the careers of a whole bucketload of individuals. You have to be able to prove you have a steady hand on the till. If you've written five scripts and have one time made the quarterfinals of the Karbunkle, Indiana, Writing Kompetition, I'm sorry to say but you probably are not there yet. Like any other field where you're being paid a decent wage, you'd best be insanely great at what you do. That means a solid educational pedigree, real dedication to your craft and being a student of the business.
Now I know what you're thinking -- Hollywood is not a meritocracy. If you're the roommate of a high-powered agent, that's good enough. Sadly, this is 100% correct. For those dudes, the rules don't really apply. I hate them. But nothing we can do about that. But for the REST of us, you have got to be the absolute most bad-ass shizzbombdigitty at what you do in order to stand out from everyone else. And that means lots of practice, lots of passes, lots of rewrites and frustration. In short it means: patience. It may take a decade. It may take TWO. But if you keep at it, eventually you should become great.
The other part of the equation is, since we are all impatient, we all make this same mistake time and again: sending out your damn script too freakin' early. Here's how it goes: You finish your first draft; you're psyched to get eyes on it. Of course you really only want to hear how awesome it is. So you fire it off to your friends and connex; but instead of "I love it! Don't change a word!," you get back... notes. Groan.
So here's what we do: we hit the notes -- well, the easy ones anyway -- and discard the ones that would require real work, such as the disappearance of your protagonist from pages 46 to 93. And then, satisfied the script is awesome, we contact our connex, send out queries, go to pitchfests, the usual routine. And then comes the deafening silence of never hearing back from anyone (the silent pass.) Maybe six months later you get some coverage or notes from a friend pointing out all the remaining problems in the script you never fixed, plus new ones created when you tried to fix the previous ones. Oh, crap.
And then on the next script, we repeat the whole damn ugly cycle. And the next. Because writing is HARD. It's a pain in the ass to do a million drafts. There are always more things to fix, and oftentimes our craft level is just not strong enough yet to really be able to nail those problems efficiently. And so eventually we pull the plug and say "it's ready!" and, you guessed it, we do the whole process all over again.
Next thing you know, it's four years later.
Solutions? Education is key, and if you're not taking writing classes somewhere, you should. They keep the creative juices flowing and will slowly up your game. Getting into a writing group, same thing. And of course, reading anything and everything you can about writing, getting smart feedback or coverage from people who know what they're doing, and dedicating real time to this craft -- all good. But ultimately the best thing I can tell you is... chill, my brothers and sisters. It may not happen on this script, or the next, or even the next. You have to find a way to be okay with that. As writers, we should have plenty of ideas, and when one project flames out, make sure you have another one already on the burner. Eventually it's gonna all really begin to click. All we need is just a little... wait for it... patience.
Much awesomeness for you all in this month's newsletter, including Steve Kaire as usual and a terrific guest blog from our pal the amazing Barri Evins. All coming at you right about now.
Onward and downward!
Writers on the Storm
Continue on to SHORTIES - Screenwriting News, Tidbits & Disinformation below.