At some point I became aware that I was being bombarded by articles/emails that contained phrases to the following effect:
- The Ten Things You Must Know To Make it as a Screenwriter!
- Learn the Five Elements Your Screenplay Must Have to Give It The Spark It Needs!
- You MUST Enter This Screenwriting Contest If You’re Serious About Screenwriting!
- Only one seat remaining in this screenwriting class you MUST take!
Perhaps you’ve read these articles and have been swept up in a wave of powerful emotions: “I better get on board or I’ll miss out.” Maybe you think that If you don’t leap at these opportunities the instant you get them, your chance will pass you by.
I don’t think so.
For a period of about three years, I jumped on almost every course, class, pitch event, and contest I could. I was certain by doing so that my script “Big Sister” would sell.
It has not sold–yet. But the benefit of all the things I participated in was: I got great notes, insights, tips and advice from executives, readers, judges and producers. I was also able to refine my verbal/written pitch so I will be able to present myself well when the day comes.
Maybe most importantly, I learned the following:
- If I don’t participate in such-and-such a class/event/contest, there will always be others and I will still learn from the notes, insights, tips and advice.
- It takes a lot of time to participate in all of the above.
- I am better served coming to the table with 3-5 solid projects in case one of them piques someone’s interest enough to say, “What else do you have?”
I let the background “must do” hysteria die down and took a step back. I now have finished writing a historical drama (screenplay), further developed my concept for a TV drama, and wrote a screenplay on assignment (paid) for cable TV.
I now feel more confident about approaching the screenwriter’s “must-do” list. And since I know it is endless, I can always return. For now, all this screenwriter “must” do is write with clarity and purpose.