5 Ways To Get Luckier In Your Screenwriting Career
Luck is defined as an outcome seemingly attained through chance rather than deliberate actions.
Building a sustainable screenwriting career is a tricky business. For most screenwriters, the trajectory is as clear as driving through a snow storm. Every screenwriter knows the importance of honing their craft as well as the importance of knowing the right people who can move your screenplay along. But what about the tangibly intangible aspects of your career?
Creative Screenwriting Magazine explores how you can capitalize on the apparent “randomness” of luck.
1) Get Out There (in person or online)
That’s right. Meet as many film and industry people that you can. Let them put a face to a name and a name to a screenplay. You do the same. Who would you like to work with? Whose sensibilities do you align with the most?
If you don’t live in a major film center like Los Angeles or New York, look at the internet to build your network community. There are many webinars, group chat, and other online resources to get you connected – even if virtually. Consider online screenwriting hubs like ISAConnect.
It’s a numbers game at the end of the day. The more people you meet, the higher the likelihood that one of them can help you to the next level of your career.
You can’t attend every writers’ event you see advertised. Otherwise, you’ll struggle to get any writing done.
Think about targeting events. Be strategic. Where are the people most likely to help you going to be? Do you attend screenwriting expos, film festivals, conferences, weekend craft workshops, or informal mixers?
Are the events targeted to working screenwriters, mid-career, aspiring writers?
What are the ratios of professional writers at each type of event?
Don’t overthink it. You’ll go crazy if you run the numbers and decide that you’ll have a forty-eight percent chance of meeting an A-list producer at a certain event and fifty-six percent at another.
People don’t like to feel like targets. People like to feel like people. Let them think they met you via a loose industry association. Professional relationships are more likely to develop that way.
Assume every event has value. Opening your mindset up to the possibility of meeting the right people will increase your chances of attracting it. Declaring an event a waste of time is not all that helpful. Temper your expectations. Very few screenwriters are given a check at a party. They need to attend multiple parties and make multiple contacts with, not only with different people, but the same people too. It’s called building trust and rapport.
You might meet the same person at another event who initially passed on your idea, but now has time to pursue it, or knows someone that does. Believe in the six degrees of separation.
Meeting people stimulates your creativity. They may say something that could potentially be large enough during a conversation to become a screenplay concept. Or at the very least, something that can enhance the character or plot in your current screenplay.
2) Get Outside Your Comfort Zone
This is related to creating new experiences and rewiring your mind for new thought processes. I’m not just talking about a restaurant you’ve never visited before or taking a Zumba class. I’m talking about pushing yourself to make yourself uncomfortable. I’m talking about asking a stranger what they think of your movie idea while you’re doing your laundry.
Think about what scares you – public speaking? Come on writers. We didn’t become actors for a reason. Do an open mic. Give the keynote address at your work. Pursue an activity with a very high chance of failure. Fail often. Failure is feedback.
Think about what worked and what didn’t What did you learn from that experience? What does that experience mean to you? What emotional or thematic impact did it have? Could this potentially be a screenplay?
Consider an activity off the beaten path. If you can’t find something different to do, do the same thing differently. Could you take your laptop to the beach or on a mountain top to write some pages?
There are fewer people outside your comfort zone and less competition. Getting rattled invigorates your nervous system. It makes your mind more suggestible and open to potentially successful situations.
Be mindful of your limits. Pushing yourself too far will only create stress and anxiety, neither of which are conducive to luck.
The people who can help you get lucky aren’t mind readers. Ask for what you want. Be specific. Can you read the first ten pages of my script? Do you want a general response or substantial feedback?
Can you introduce me to so and so? Or better still, offer your services. Can we do a script swap and give each other notes? Is there anyone in my network you’d like to meet? What would make your life easier right now? This immediately puts people at ease. Look at the subtle ways of asking someone for something so there is a mutual benefit.
Pick up the phone and make a call. If that’s not practical, send an email or a message via social media. Make it brief.
4) Instincts v Intuition
Obey your gut instincts. The word “instinct” is derived from the Latin term for “impulse.” Instincts are primary physical responses based on your subconscious mind before they are processed by your cerebral cortex. They are innate responses without thinking.
Instinct should not be confused with intuition. It is the next advancement toward reasoning. The word “intuition” is derived from the Latin term for “consideration.” Intuition is your inner voice designed to guide you away from danger and toward survival. It is formed from beliefs, knowledge, and experiences.
Both instinct and intuition heighten your awareness and your ability to assess situations. If your gut is telling you a producer might be sketchy, or that something is “off”, it is probably right.
5) Luck Thoughts
Positive thinking is a thing. Think positive thoughts and your mind opens up to viable screenplays, and in turn, improves the chances of screenwriting career success. Visualizing success is one thing that you can consciously control. Luck thinking is less tangible. It’s a belief system that not everything in life is destined. The randomness of life does exist.
Wanting luck and deserving luck are two different things. The latter means you’ve done the heavy lifting of writing a screenplay. Expect good fortune if you’ve worked for it. Make this a part of an affirmation to yourself.
Luck is a mindset. Creating a mindset where you expect good luck makes you more likely to act on lucky hunches and spot hidden or overlooked opportunities. Even if the opportunities presented to you aren’t the perfect fit, your lucky mindset will allow you to craft something better.
Don’t overthink opportunities when they arrive. Strike while the lucky iron’s hot. You’ll know soon enough if they pan out into something more substantial. Listen to your instincts. They serve as the filter to when an opportunity is worth pursuing.
Luck is also a matter of perspective. A stroke of luck is rarely entirely good or bad. A swift script sale may mean you lose creative control of your project, while a slower sale with less money might mean you create your vision and participate in the subsequent rewards.
Luck attracts luck.
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