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So You Want to be a Successful Screenwriter? Here's How.

Updated: Feb 6, 2023


Screenwriting, Screenwriting, Failure vs Success

WANT TO BE A SUCCESSFUL SCREENWRITER?


Of course you do! No writer wakes up and thinks 'I want to be a failed screenwriter with no money and nothing to show for myself'.


But what does being successful actually mean? Winning Oscars? BAFTA's? Golden Globes? Sure sounds nice doesn't it? But that kind of success can be a long way off when you're first starting out. Even for a semi-professional screenwriter the focus is on how to make a living as a screenwriter - the awards will have to wait.


The truth is success is not only relative, it’s also very personal. Success from person to person can look very different. So it's important for you as a screenwriter to work out what success looks like for you. For some it's money for others it's love. For some it's awards for other's it's a steady and stable career progression.


But for arguments sake, let’s say to be a successful screenwriter consists of you writing full-time and getting your scripts green-lit/being hired to work on commissioned shows. Let’s say that is the bar – sounds good.


So the question on your lips is:


HOW CAN I BE SUCCESSFUL?


And here's the answer:


Success boils down to something very simple (simple but not easy). Consistency. That's it. Consistency is the only real tried and tested way to get results.


CONSISTENCY IS KEY


We all know this, so why is it so hard!? Life is hectic, there’s the constant battle of time consuming responsibilities and that’s before the doubts/self-sabotage/added excuses et al enter the chat.


FORM GOOD HABITS


“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems” – James Clear.


One firm way to stay consistent is to form new habits. Create systems that help you to achieve your screenwriting goals. We all have systems in place without realising it. Some of those systems sabotage and some elevate. Becoming aware of our bad habits is the only way to help us to create new, better habits. But an ambition without a system in place is just a pipe dream. We will not miraculously rise to the pipe dream, we will simply fall back into our automatic system.


To help writers create good habits Script Stable created The 30 Day Challenge. The rules of the challenge are simple: commit to your screenplay for 30 days. So if you're in need of some extra motivation at the moment, you can join in the challenge. You can start at any time and it's totally free. Go here to download our FREE daily tracker.


TAKE STOCK


Don't underestimate the stepping stones on your path to success. If you're daydreaming too much about the Oscar-lined shelves of your pool house in Hollywood but you're currently sitting in a freezing flat in rainy England eating beans on toast; it's natural that you're going to get disillusioned after a while and want to quit. Remember that this is supposed to be a long journey. If you don't learn to enjoy the journey, you won't stay the course.


Be sure to acknowledge your victories both big AND small. It's so easy to ignore the fact the we are often standing where our past selves were once longing to stand. Make a list of the smaller, more attainable successes and writing will become a lot more enjoyable.



HIGH RISK HIGH RETURN


As with anything in life (but especially in the creative world) nothing is ever guaranteed. Plenty of very talented screenwriters end up quitting because the industry can seem too impossible to break into. You need some thick skin to stick around in the Film & TV industry. But the only way you'll grow it is if you stick around.


Whilst it's true - there's no guarantee, the other side to that story is this: you're not going to achieve your screenwriting goals if you quit! You've got to be in it to win it, as they say.


KNOWLEDGE IS POWER


Do your research. Take courses. Learn and improve. Focus on your craft. Of course networking helps and contacts are important but if you're missing the basics of writing a great screenplay then you'll end up ruining your first impressions with people who matter.


If you're in the early stages of your screenwriting journey and want to know a little bit more about what being a screenwriter actually entails, then head over to the Script Stable website for your FREE tools and resources. Also check out our


MINDSET MATTERS


Mindset matters. It's matters so much more than you think. Screenwriters rarely quit/fail/breakdown due to them not being talented but more because working your arse off for years with no real recognition or compensation is pretty soul destroying. And sometimes writer's take one too many punches and can't get back up again. This is why your mindset matters so much. Writing is a long term game. There are no short cuts. If you set yourself up for a fall by putting all of your eggs into one basket by god are you going to feel it when you land - you'll have broken your back and crushed your eggs... that's a hard mess to clean up.


Whether it's becoming more mindful and joining apps like Headspace to help you de-stress, or setting your sites on more realistic goals; the way you think affects the way you feel so pay attention! Your mindset matters.


And the most important thing of all:


JUST GET WRITING!


It's the only real way to be a successful screenwriter.



 

What helps you to stay consistent in your writing? Let us know in the comments. Share your tips with the other writers here.

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