Approach. Attitude. Application.
A lot of people want to be writers. Scratch that. A lot of people want to be screenwriters. Thousands. Tens of thousands. All writing scripts. All dreaming of that elusive break into film and TV, and some breaking and entering through other routes such as theatre and radio.
So, what’s going to be your approach? What’s going to set you apart from the rest? What are you going to do to ensure that your work is not only read, but is better than all the others? How long are you going to last? How long are you willing to try? Are you going to read a couple of scripts a week (at least) to inform and develop your understanding of craft? Are you a movie fan or a genuine screenwriter? Are you going to be a professional and learn as much as you can about the industry before you put your work ‘out there’? In essence, how much are you willing to learn?
A positive and professional attitude will provide all the answers to the above questions. This attitude needs to be focused, committed and relentless. The industry is a fickle business. What it deems as crap from an untested writer they will think is gold from a more seasoned scribe.
This is the frustration and rejection that awaits; a wall of refusal from seemingly misinformed script editors/execs whose own English barely communicates what it thinks about your work, and yet you’re meant to submit to their decision. So how are you going to react? Sulk and moan? Pout and protest? Or take the sting and try to see their perspective, maybe the script needs more work? Or move on to the next project? Or stick to the day job?
The determination to succeed. The unshakeable belief in your talent. The relentless pursuit of writing good scripts; the inevitable course to a commission, the path to an agent’s door. But we’re all human. The determination, belief and pursuit is difficult to maintain. The rejections wear you down. You get slightly insecure about your work, and whether you’ve got anything of value to say at all.
Keep things in perspective.
When a producer says he’s interested in your script, great, but it means nothing until a deal is done, and a cheque is in the bank. If a company rejects your work and is willing to read other scripts, then continue to send them new projects. If however, they have not asked to meet you after your second submitted script, you need to consider if they are just being polite and encouraging rather than genuinely interested in you as a writer.
Nevertheless, it’s important to acknowledge every positive response to your writing - so you know you’re on the right track - but don’t mislead yourself into thinking there’s a commission just around the corner or that an agent will definitely take you on now that you’ve got that £200 option fee. Ignore all that. Keep on trying. Keep focused on your work. You’re a writer. That’s what you do. Write. No matter what. Rejections hurt, script editors/execs can get it wrong, deals can take forever to sort out, but no-one can stop you from writing. Ever.