Unless you’re collaborating with a co-writer, the actual process of screenwriting is for the most part a solitary process. All of the work involved depends on you, and you alone. It can be tough and frustrating.
And that’s just the writing part. We haven’t even touched on dealing with notes, rewriting, or marketing your script.
It’s an uphill climb. Practically vertical, even.
“Argh! It’s too much for one person to take on by themselves!” you might exclaim.
Never fear. You are most assuredly not alone. Every other screenwriter has gone through the exact same things you have, and will continue to do so.
And one of the most powerful weapons to help you get through it all is easily at your disposal: those other writers.
I can honestly say both my writing and my career (such as it is) would not be at the level they are today if it hadn’t been for other writers lending their helping hands over the years.
Whether it was notes, leads, or connections, my network of writing associates has proven to be an indispensable resource.
The writing community wants to see writers succeed. Sure, we all want it for ourselves, but if you can give somebody else a boost, why wouldn’t you?
I get all the usual “scripts wanted” emails. About 98 percent of the time, I don’t have a script that matches what somebody’s looking for. But due to interaction with all my fellow screenwriters, I might see something and think “Hey! I think _____ has a script like this.” I’ll then forward it to that writer, saying I thought of them when I saw it. Sometimes they’ll have already seen it and applied, or it’s totally new and they’re very grateful for the lead.
Additionally, because I’ve spent so much time cultivating relationships, a lot of these writers know me and what scripts I have, so they’ll send me a listing. Even if it doesn’t work out, it’s still more results than I would have gotten by myself. Like with the writing, any progress is good progress.
And speaking of the writing, after I think a latest draft is ready to show, I’ll go to my usual circle of reliable note-givers to get their feedback, and they’ll do the same with me. Every once in a while a writer I’ve only interacted with via social media will contact me, asking if I’d be willing to take a look at their script. If there’s no deadline, and I can squeeze it in, I’ll gladly tell them to send it along.
There will also be those times where you’re feeling low; like nothing’s going right. Guess what? This is definitely another one of those “it happens to everybody” scenarios, and believe me – everybody can relate to it. Want to talk about it and get it off your chest? Writers are willing to listen – and offer a solution if they can. Just getting it out of your system can be helpful.
Also very important – return the favor. Somebody’s helped you out? Offer to do the same – in any capacity you can. When I ask somebody for notes, I make sure to say I’m more than happy to return the favor – because I am. They were willing to put in the time and effort to help me, so the least I can do is the same for them.
A big part of all of this is to accomplish any of this, you have to become part of the community itself. Fortunately, even that’s pretty easy. There are so many ways to get to know your fellow writers.
-screenwriting groups on Facebook, but mostly the smaller ones. The bigger ones tend to be a lot of egos and sniping.
-Script Pipeline’s #PipelineWriters on Twitter. 5pm PST on Fridays. Especially helpful if you like mugs.
-#scriptchat on Twitter. 5pm PST on Sundays
Regarding all of these, groups and communities overall, you get out of them what you put into them.
Leave your ego at the door. Be nice to people. Treat them the way you’d want to be treated.
Ask questions. Make it about them, not you.
Establish relationships. Be supportive for good news and bad news.
You may be working on your scripts by yourself, but you’re most definitely not alone.