Q & A with Richard Walter

Richard Walter is a novelist and author of best-selling fiction and nonfiction, celebrated storytelling educator, screenwriter, script consultant, lecturer and recently retired Professor and Associate and Interim Dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television where, for more than forty years, he chaired the graduate program in screenwriting. He has written scripts for the major studios and television networks, including the earliest drafts of AMERICAN GRAFFITI; lectured on screenwriting and storytelling and conducted master classes throughout North America as well as London, Paris, Jerusalem, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, Beijing, Shanghai, Sydney and Hong Kong.

He is also a pop culture commentator, blogger and media pundit who has made numerous appearances on The Today Show, The O’Reilly Factor, Hardball with Chris Matthews, ABC Primetime, Scarborough Country and CBS News Nightwatch, among many other high-profile national television programs. More than a hundred newspaper and magazine articles have been published about him and the program he directed at UCLA.

What was the last thing you read or watched you considered exceptionally well-written?

The new bio MIKE NICHOLS, A LIFE by Mark Harris.

How’d you get your start in the industry, and was that connected to you instructing at UCLA?

I came to California over fifty years ago for, I thought, three weeks, but fell into USC film school at the last minute, and never looked back. It was through faculty and classmates there that I learned screenwriting and made the earliest connections that led to professional assignments.

A little more than ten years later, at a glitzy showbiz party in Malibu, I was invited to join the faculty at UCLA. I was busy adapting my first book, the novel BARRY AND THE PERSUASIONS, for Warner Brothers, who had bought the film rights and hired me to write the screenplay. I was not seeking work. Still, as I would advise my children, you don’t have to eat the whole thing, but at least taste it. I tasted teaching and found that it was the perfect complement to writing.

As someone who actually teaches screenwriting, is recognizing good writing something you think can be taught or learned?

Yes and no. No one needs education to decide what scripts or movies they like. That said, there’s good evidence that studying the art and craft in a worthy program goes a long way toward launching and maintaining a career.

What do you consider the components of a good script?

First of all, story; that is, what the characters do and say. What they do and say also establishes who they are. Regarding the latter, that is, what the characters say, dialogue needs to be worth listening to all for itself, but it can’t be all for itself. It needs at the same time also to advance the story and advance the audience’s appreciation of the characters. Conflict, controversy, and confrontation are required throughout the narrative, and those are just the ‘cons.’

What are some of the most common screenwriting mistakes you see?

Overwriting. Too many pages. Too much dialogue. Too much description, especially regarding instructions to the actors regarding pauses and gestures and such. 

What story tropes are you just tired of seeing?

I’m weary of superheroes and comic-book adaptations.

What are some key rules/guidelines every writer should know?

Less is more.

Successful writing is not about adding paraphernalia to a narrative but taking it away, revealing a story that’s somehow already there.

Don’t have one character tell another what you’ve already told the audience.

Movies must appear real, but in fact they are fake. Writers should be wary, therefore, of writing ‘the way it really happened’ and creating dialogue that captures the way people ‘really speak.’

What ‘really happens’ in life is, for the most part, boring. The way people ‘really speak’ is available in the streets for free, you don’t need to go to the movies for that. Also, and again, the way people ‘really speak’ is, for the most part, tedious. Know what I mean? Get what I’m saying? Understand my point?

Have you ever read a script where you thought “This writer really gets it”? If so, what were the reasons why?

Sure. The give-away is economy: few words that reveal a lot, instead of the other way around. Nothing is present for its own sake but exclusively for the advancement of the narrative. Fancy language that might be appropriate in literature will swamp a screenplay.

**AUTHOR’S NOTE – I’ve often said one of the best pieces of writing advice I ever heard was “Write as if ink costs $1000 an ounce”. Richard said that at a seminar of his I attended very early in my career. It really stuck with me, and I’ve used that as a guideline in my writing ever since.

How do you feel about screenwriting contests? Worth it or not?

There are some that are absolutely worthy.

How can people find out more about you and the services you provide?

Visit www.richardwalter.com. There’s info regarding my books, limited-enrollment online screenwriting webinars, whose enrollees’ scripts I’m willing to read, script consultation services, and more.

Readers of this blog are more than familiar with my love/appreciation of pie. What’s your favorite kind?

Pecan. And I don’t mind a scoop of vanilla ice cream on it.

Comfortable shoes will also help

One of the most common analogies regarding screenwriting is “it’s a marathon, not a sprint”.

Speaking from experience, it most certainly is.

For long-time followers of this blog, one of the things I enjoy doing when I’m not working on scripts is to go for a run. It’s good exercise, lets me catch up on my podcasts, and offers plenty of time to think about my writing projects.

After years of half-marathons, I decided it was time to take on the next challenge – a full marathon. A whole 26.2 miles.

Despite all the training I did, of which there was A LOT, when I set out that morning, I was still nervous. Could I actually do this?

That’s when I reminded myself, and did so repeatedly over the next few hours:

It’s the distance, not the time.

Much as I wanted to finish with a respectable time and pace, I’d decided it was more important just to finish.

Long story short – I got to mile 20 and a twinge developed in my heels and ankles, which then turned into out-and-out pain, so I ended up walking the rest of the way. It took me longer to get there, and definitely wasn’t the way I’d hoped things would play out, but I kept going and crossed that finish line. All the hard work and effort had paid off.

What does this have to do with screenwriting? It’s the perfect metaphor!

Earlier this week on social media, I posted my standard question to the screenwriting community – how’s your latest project coming along?

Answers covered just about the entire spectrum. From “great!” to “almost done with it” to “working out a problem in the second act” to “slowly” to “not at all”.

I can certainly sympathize with those last two. Frustration about a lack of progress is common. Our creativeness just isn’t cooperating, which doesn’t help either.

It usually boils down to two choices: accept the frustration, dig in a little deeper and keep pushing forward, or give up.

For me, giving up just ain’t an option. I love the writing too much to even consider it. But like with the running, I may not get the results I want when I want them, but I’ll keep trying until I do. It might take longer than I want, which honestly would kind of suck, but if that’s what it takes, then so be it.

As writers, we put way too much pressure on ourselves to succeed, sometimes within a somewhat unrealistic timeframe. “If I don’t get the results I want, I’m a failure.”

NO.

This is NOT an easy thing we’re trying to do. At least give yourself credit for being willing to do the work. Some people don’t even get that far.

Everybody’s path to success is different, as are our individual finish lines. You know the route you need to take, and how challenging it’s going to be, so it’s up to you to decide how you want to take it on.

So to all the writers feeling disappointed or frustrated about how things are (or aren’t) going, remember that the road ahead may seem treacherous and insurmountable, but if you keep pushing forward and do your best to enjoy the journey, you’ll be that much closer to crossing that finish line.

Hang in there, chums. I may be running my own race, but I’m still on the sidelines, cheering you on.

Q & A with Tim Schildberger of Write LA

Tim Schildberger is an experienced writer, script coach, and co-founder/Head Judge of Write LA – an annual screenwriting competition that gives writers a chance to get read by managers, and hear their winning script read by professional actors in LA (and posted on YouTube). He cares far too much about helping writers improve their craft and get access to the industry. Tim is an expat Australian, a former TV journalist, writer on the globally popular soap opera NEIGHBOURS, newspaper columnist, creator of a comedy/reality series for the Travel Channel called LAWRENCE OF AMERICA, and one of the key members of the original BORAT team. He has stories.

In his spare time, Tim is a husband, parent, tennis player, road tripper, and he and his family foster kittens. Seriously. Twitter: @write_la Instagram: @writela

What was the last thing you read or watched you considered exceptionally well-written?

I hate to be a cliche, but THE CROWN – sets the bar very high. Peter Morgan is a genius. His ability to tell story with and without words, and build tension in scenes that on the page might appear boring, is remarkable. THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT had similar skill, attaching us to an unconventional character quickly and effectively.  Feature films – I loved PALM SPRINGS – structurally, and characters/dialogue, and who doesn’t love a woman solving the problems using education and intellect!

How’d you get your start in the industry?

I was 22, living in Australia (where I’m from), working as a trainee TV News Producer. I had applied to newsrooms, and I’d called up various TV series, asking if they needed a writer. It was a simpler time. A nightly soap opera, NEIGHBOURS, let me do a writing submission, which they liked – and said they’d get back to me. In the meantime I got the job in TV news.

One day, six months later,  I got a call in the newsroom, it was NEIGHBOURS, asking if I’d like to write an episode. I said yes, obviously. They mailed me the scene breakdowns, I typed my script on a typewriter, and ten days later mailed it back. All after working a full day in the newsroom. I did that 5 more times before it all got far too overwhelming. I was the youngest writer they’d ever had, and that experience made it clear to me that writing, in all its forms, was my future.

What was the inspiration for creating the Write LA competition?

We wanted to create a competition we’d want to enter. I’ve been writing for a long time – and I’ve entered competitions large and small. I’ve won a few, placed in a bunch, and it became clear that many of the writing comps out there don’t really do much when it comes to attracting attention, gaining industry access, or launching careers. And pretty much none put any kind of focus on helping writers improve their command of craft. So our goal was to build a competition that somehow combined both goals – to help with the craft, and to help with the access.

What makes Write LA unique compared to other screenwriting competitions?

Two things I think separate us. First, we are a competition run by actual writers. So we are able to deliver a certain degree of respect and admiration for the act of actually finishing a script and entering it – that many competitions lack. We know how it all feels.

Second, we stand proudly in front of the competition. Everyone knows I’m the co-founder and Head Judge. When you email a question, it comes to me. I do an enormous amount of reading, and I’m supervising every aspect of the competition. We try hard not to be a faceless comp where sometimes it can feel like you’re sending your script into a void, and then hoping something emerges. It matters to us that the entrants feel ’seen’.

A big concern for writers entering a screenwriting competition is the quality/experience level of its readers. How does Write LA address that?

I hear that. And I’ve experienced it first hand. A script will make the Nicholl semifinals, and won’t make it out of the first round somewhere else. And then you get ‘feedback’ that feels like it was written by someone who never actually read the script, they just strung a few buzzwords together.

So to address that – I’m heavily involved in the reading process. I’ve handpicked our small team, I do a ton of reading personally, and I set pretty clear parameters when it comes to what I’m looking for when it comes to command of craft. Every script that makes it into our top 15 semi finalists will have been read by at least three different people, including me.

We give every script, whatever the genre, or whether it’s a TV pilot or feature, full respect and attention. And all the additional feedback (offered at an extra fee), is done by me personally. So there is a consistency of the feedback, and a name attached to it (mine). I’m not interested in telling anyone what I would do, I’m focused entirely on maximizing the opportunities presented by the writer and doing my best to empower them to bring the most out of their idea, and their skills. 

What do you consider the components of a good script?

Gosh – this isn’t easy to answer quickly, but I’ll try. For me, a good script needs fleshed out characters, who face clear challenges – no matter how big or small. Because no matter how detailed the world, or ‘big’ the story, if we don’t care about the characters, it’s all a waste of time.

Also, an understanding of the audience experience is awesome. A writer who is aware of audience expectations, and is able to manipulate those expectations is exciting. And finally, a clear sense of where the story is heading. Not a lot of extra clutter. Just a solid story, competently and confidently told.

What are some of the most common screenwriting mistakes you see?

Misuse of Scene Description is HUGE. Using it to reveal character details an audience couldn’t possibly know. Using it to show off a writer’s literary command – with all sorts of flowery descriptions that waste time, rather than establish ‘mood’.

Not writing an outline. I’m confident I can pick within 5 pages if a writer has an outline, and a firm idea of who this story is about, and where it is going. And taking too long to dive into story. Spending page after page building a complicated world, and then finally starting some sort of story – is a big mistake. Even STAR WARS had a brief title explanation, and then we were into Darth Vader storming Leia’s ship. The rest we figure out as we go.

Lastly, I have to add too many spelling errors. A sloppy script does not inspire confidence.

What story tropes are you just tired of seeing?

A character waking up, turning off their alarm, and getting into the shower as the first thing we see. Happens WAY more often than you would expect, and is not only dull, but unwise. What viewer who sits in a darkened movie theatre wants to see a feature film start that way?

I’m also not a fan of drawn out action sequences. It’s great that you see the car chase in your head, but all a reader cares about is ‘does someone important die?’

Oh, and a shot of ‘overdue bills’ on the kitchen table. Anything but that please. I see a lot of stereotypes with the characters too – which usually tells me a writer is basing a character on another character they’ve seen in a movie or on TV – rather than an actual, flawed, complex human being.

What are some key rules/guidelines every writer should know?

What you are doing is more about hard work than flashes of inspiration. It’s less about talent than it is about grind.

Accept that re-writing is inevitable. Your first draft will not be a work of art. It’s a starting point.

Learn to receive notes as comments on the words on a page, not a personal attack, or a statement on your writing ability.

Characters are more important than story nowadays. Put the extra effort into figuring out who they are, and their emotional journey through your story.

What you are doing is brave, and awesome, and you should feel very proud of yourself every time you finish anything. Every time. Plenty of people talk about writing something. You went and did it. That’s huge and should never be ignored.

There is no work of art in the history of human beings that has ever been loved by 100% of the people. Accept that your work will not be universally loved – because humans are humans.

Details matter. Every scene matters. Every line of dialogue matters. Everything you do is conveying a message to an audience. Understand and embrace that.

Have you ever read a script where you thought “This writer really gets it”? If so, what were the reasons why?

I read many scripts like that! I read hundreds of scripts a year, so I regularly find writers who are very skilled. As for reasons, I would say the absolute, clear number one is making me feel something. I’m not alone in this. I tell anyone who’ll listen if you can make a reader feel a genuine human emotion, that is FAR more important and impactful than any set piece, world, intricate story or cute scene description. It isn’t even close.

Also, it’s fun to read scripts by writers who think about the audience, and work hard to provide us with a rich, enjoyable experience. I know the expression “write what you know” is popular. My version is “write what you know, but make it accessible to strangers.”

And while I’m here, let me add that writing what you know really refers to your emotional experience and authenticity. Not your time in middle school. If you can dig into your emotional space, which is uniquely yours, and share that on the page – that authenticity connects you with a reader/audience, and goes a long way to establishing what the industry likes to call your “voice”. I’d like to say it was easy to do. It’s not. But it’s important.

Readers of this blog are more than familiar with my love/appreciation of pie. What’s your favorite kind?

I have to say I’m a big fan of custard. There’s a custard tart in my homeland Australia – a mini pie – which is very much my favorite. But as that doesn’t really exist here – I’m going to say I like banana cream, apple, peach, and I’m a big fan of all the cobblers and crumbles too. I don’t think I’d refuse any pie that came my way.

Doing the best I can

2021 is just a smidge past the halfway point. How’s it been for you, writing-wise?

Have you been as productive as you’d hoped back when the calendar switched from December to January?

Mine’s been okay. I got a few first drafts done, and have been splitting time among a few rewrites. Some of them have been proving to be quite challenging, but I keep chipping away. A little bit of progress a day is better than none, right?

And maybe some of you remember back to earlier this year when I read A TON of scripts. Glad I did it, but no plans to repeat that. Probably ever.

There’s also a big project that’s been stewing for quite some time, and that took up a lot of time – especially during May and June. Hoping to put the finishing touches on it over the next few weeks, with the intention of revealing more later in the year.

I’ve also seen a lot of positive news from many of my trusted colleagues within the writing community; representation, contracts, options, production(!). I’m more than thrilled for each of them, and hope to eventually be able to include myself among that select group.

A big part of this year for me has also been a whole lot of self-reflection and evaluation. Do I feel any closer to achieving the goals I’ve set for myself? Is that light at the end of the tunnel the growing glimmer of hope, or an oncoming train?

Like a lot of us, I’ve had my fair share of days where things seem extremely gloomy and I wonder if I still have a chance at making this work. Maybe. Maybe not. But I do enjoy coming up with all these stories.

So I’ll keep at it, doing my best to stay positive and trying to do better with each draft, while also taking the time to not overstress about working my through the whole process and just try to have a good time with it. This plays a much bigger role than you’d expect, and can make quite a difference.

Who knows? Maybe it’ll all pay off in the end. In the meantime, I humbly refer you back to the title of today’s post.

Q & A with Suzanne Gundersen of ScreenwriteNOW

Suzanne Gundersen is Founder of ScreenwriteNOW and Inner Story Consultant who mentors & teaches screenwriters and industry creatives how to clear the path that lets their story flow.

Since 2015, she has skillfully helped screenwriters overcome fears, worries & blocks on demand, get focused and sharpen creativity, build tremendous confidence, and deepen their emotional worldview into wisdom & truth, to hook audiences into wanting more.  She uses natural tools & techniques that relieve tension & stress, so her clients become more authentic and embodied in their work.

She expertly shares a technique she calls Neuro-Energy Tapping, a self-use acupressure technique that calms the mind and relaxes the body; combined with her 3RP Method, creates powerful shifts towards experiencing the 5C’s; centered calm, clarity, creativity and confidence! 

Her programs “Just Write Now” and “Get Pitch Ready” have helped thousands of screenwriters get focused into their creative rhythm & flow, effortlessly finish scripts and pitch with confidence.  “My Worldview”  is a program that helps writers transform their personal hero’s journey, so they can express their authentic value and emotional truth in their writing & presenting their work. 

Her work supports individuals and groups, she speaks & leads online workshops and programs. Visit www.screenwritenow.com to download her free e-book and schedule a complimentary consultation to discuss your needs & goals.

What was the last thing you read/watched you thought was incredibly well-written?

So many things! But the one I’ve been watching recently has been QUEEN OF THE SOUTH. I particularly enjoyed the first two seasons because of the subplots. There were some exciting and integrated subplots that threw the main plot into a lot of twisting. I always feel like really good writing and really good shows have a lot of integrated storylines at lots of different levels; at the surface level, at the deeper level, sideways. I’ve watched other seasons since then, but the writing for those has been a little bit flatter, more one-dimensional.

How did you get started in the industry?

I’ve been working in natural stress management for over fifteen years, and about five years ago, I was approached by a writer who asked if I could help her with her writer’s block. She led me to another published author who was working on a series of books who asked if I could help her with her writer’s block. She then referred me to a good friend of hers who was a showrunner on a network show, and asked if I could come in and help her writers room. I had no idea what that meant. I just knew I could help people clear their blocks.

I got into the writers room and found out that there was a writer who was getting divorced, a writer whose child was diagnosed with autism, and there was another one who had dealt with the recent death of her mother. All of these distractions were coming into play as to why they weren’t cohesive in the writers room. I worked with them as a group to help them get back in the zone together, and I worked individually with those three to help them process what was really going on in their lives and distracting them from being creatively on focus and on point.

From there it’s been a lot of word of mouth. I’ve done podcasts, had my services offered as a prize at festivals, I get to speak and teach classes at different screenwriting schools, including through Zoom during COVID. It’s all been a lot of fun.

You focus more on helping a writer utilize their emotions as part of their writing process, which includes a spot-on accurate description as the writer’s own “hero’s journey”. Why is it important for a writer to focus on their own emotions as much as on what they’re writing?

What else are we writing if not about our own emotional wisdom? We are energy as a person. We’re energy in motion, which is emotion. We’re learning through lots of different experiences that we go through in life. The hero’s journey just seemed to be a really great way to analogize between the story that’s being written in our own lives and what we’re writing about is really our own lives. I take people on their own hero’s journey by looking at the top two or three unresolved life experiences that don’t sit with them very well. When we don’t process things, we put a closed door to it, which keeps us from being able to access the emotional wisdom. I help the writer go on their own hero’s journey to go and resolve those life experiences, so they’re not afraid to write from the places they’re trying to avoid.

When writers are writing, they’re really writing about different parts of themselves. If the writing is flat, it’s often because they haven’t done the work to transform their own hero’s journey and  the unresolved life issues keeping the rich emotionally deep parts of themselves at bay. For them to be able to focus on their emotions and writing, and do it from a place of peace and wisdom, it’s very empowering and helps them to be able to write those deeply connected storylines that are really going to grab their audience.

Another common experience for writers is the dreaded writer’s block, which can be quite an obstacle. How does your Just Write NOW! program help a writer towards overcoming it?

We are either allowing or blocking, and that can be creatively, professionally, or personally. Just Write NOW is a program I developed which shows how to use one simple effortless technique to help the writer get back into focus. And not just mental focus, but into that creative rhythm and flow; that writing zone where they sit down and go “Oh my gosh, I just wrote for hours!”, or “I can’t believe I just made it through the whole first act!”, or “Those ten pages just flowed out of me!” Often that comes from being able to clear whatever is in the path that’s keeping you from your natural creative rhythm and flow.

Just Write NOW is a program that gives the fundamentals of a technique I call Neuro Energy Tapping, and a process I call 3RP, which stands for Resolve, Release, Reframe and Project. Neuro Energy Tapping is a self-use acupressure technique that helps to calm the mind and relax the body, and help the writer get into their rhythm and flow. It’s good for anybody dealing with all kinds of personal or professional obstacles, or experiencing “blank page syndrome”, or feels backed into a corner they can’t write their way out of.

The program lays out using this tapping technique to clear those distractions, and then using the 3RP method to help them transform that stress to get to a place of broader perspective about those distractions and back to the task at hand of that creative rhythm and flow. Once they’re back in there, I ask them to write down what their formula is for that. What do they tell themselves? What do they believe about themselves? What does it feel like to write? What are the best conditions to be able to write in? Is it the temperature? Is it an environment? Is it your favorite sweatshirt? Just Write NOW helps them to clear the distractions and dip into that creative rhythm and flow and really anchor it by identifying all the characteristics that keep them in that zone. That way they can get into it fairly quickly when they’re not there.

You mentioned “the 3RP Method”, which is a big part of your approach. What is that, and how does it work?

Resolve, Release, Reframe and Project, which is a sequence of how you’re processing distractions so you can get focused.

The first R is resolving. “How do we know our distraction?” What’s our evidence or proof? Is it a blank page? Did you get a lot of feedback from a manager or agent, and you’re resistant to doing it? Or maybe you’re feeling stuck. Whatever the symptom is, we’re looking to resolve it. We use the tapping technique to help them loosen the grip on that stress.

The second R is releasing it. When we’re doing this tapping technique, we’re sending a message to the part of the brain called the amygdala, as well as to the central nervous system to say “it’s okay to calm down now”. It’s easier to release something when we’re no longer feeling threatened, so that helps our stressed-out brain start to calm down too.

Once we’ve resolved and released it, we can move on to the third R of reframing it, which means once you’ve stepped out of a metaphorical tornado of blocks in your life and you’re feeling a little bit easier about things, how can you now think about that thing that was blocking you? What new ideas can you bring, whether it’s a new inspiration to write or a new way to look at the thing that was creating the distraction that’s not as big of a deal as it was before. And this happens in a way that’s truly unique and organic to the individual.

When that happens, I guide them towards the P portion, which is to project; to really look forward into their writing and be in that zone, where we can start to identify the formula for what it’s like to be in that creative rhythm and flow, and be able to go there when they need to.

You also mentioned Neuro Energy Tapping. What is that, and what are its benefits? Not just for writers, but for everybody.

I’m kind of a neuroscience geek. I call it Neuro Energy Tapping, but you may know it out in the mainstream world as “emotional freedom technique” or “the tapping solution”. The benefits are that it helps stop and slow the momentum of thoughts, feelings, the body’s reaction experience in the moment. It also helps to be able to open up new pathways for people to feel more at ease and get a result, and start building momentum in the direction they want. It’s a self-use acupressure technique where you literally use your fingertips to tap on energy points, and when you do that, you can shift and experience how you’re feeling your body, your emotions and your mind.

And it’s not just for writers. I just happen to apply it to help writers because it’s really a great technique to help clear distractions and get people focused; specifically for creative people to help them get into their rhythm and flow. Everyone can use it. It’s a wonderful, natural stress relief technique that can be used anytime, anywhere, to break the connection between the mind and body that might be causing stress or struggle.

It goes without saying that writing a screenplay can be exceptionally stressful. Was this part of the inspiration for your “reprogramming your stress” method? Is this something anybody can do?

Yes! Writers have so many great ideas, and that’s the fun part of writing. The real work of writing isn’t just the skill of putting it together, but being able to write from those places of emotional depth and wisdom. The process I take you through for reprogramming your stress is to be able to go to those distractions and processing them with the 3RP method. You can have those experiences and thoughts sit within you with that much more peace.

Once you’re at a place of peace, you can actually write more confidently, and really be able to put all the intricate parts of a script together. This involves a lot of thinking and emotion, so all that tapping helps to reprogram the stress to help spread it out into “bite-size pieces”. Take whatever’s causing the triggers and neutralize them to be able to allow that kind of organic refrain about how to go about doing the real work of putting the story together in a meaningful way.

You also offer a “Get Pitch Ready” package, which involves building confidence as part of pitching a project. Why do you think the idea of pitching is so intimidating to writers, and what are some potential solutions to dealing with it?

Get Pitch Ready is a program I teach that shares how to be able to really connect with your inner authentic value, and that’s what sells stories: you and your willingness to be seen and be authentic. Whatever story you’re writing, it’s probably been written a hundred times, but the way you tell it and your own willingness to be vulnerable to be sharing your own wounds, to expose yourself emotionally, is really what’s going to make you and your story stand out.

I’ve listened to a lot of pitches, and people just write it all out. It sounds great while they’re writing it, but it doesn’t bring that authentic voice to when they share it. I help people connect with their confidence, or what I call “their inner lion/lioness”, so when they stand up onstage like a lion, this commanding presence. That way they can deliver their authenticity in their pitch.

We’ve got to clear whatever references that we have that are keeping us in the way from feeling safe to be seen, whether we’ve been rejected in the past, or seen other people get rejected. I truly believe there’s no such thing as rejection. It’s either you’re being redirected to deeper levels of self-connection, which the more safe you feel within, the more you can authentically express that value to other people, and that’s what’s going to get people hooked onto your story.

People reading this may say, “That’s not how it was in the past.” And that’s true. It was a lot about what people thought others wanted to hear, or what they wanted them to be, but I think the value system of the future is authenticity, and the more you know your own value and can clear any worries or fears of rejection from the past, that’s what’s going to help you stand out and pitch with success.

In your series of YouTube interviews with experienced professional creatives, you ask each person for “the one golden nugget of advice” they’d pass along. Have there been any common themes, and have any really stood out for you?

There’ve been so many! I’ve done so many interviews, so everybody has their own unique story as to why they have that particular “golden nugget”. I don’t want to share anything specifically, because something might resonate for one person, but not for somebody else. All the incredible people I’ve interviewed have had some experience that’s led them to share what they learned from it in their own unique way. That’s what I love about the industry wisdom in the series I’ve been doing.

How can people find out more about you and the services you provide?

Check out my website – screenwritenow.com, which also includes my online classes, a list of my appearances on podcasts, and if you want to find out about private or group consulting work to help writers process what might be getting in their way of being able to be the best writer they can. I’m also on Twitter – @screenwritenow1

Readers of this blog are more than familiar with my love/appreciation of pie. What’s your favorite kind?

Pecan, and I love dark chocolate in it, because why not? With some nice whipped cream on top.