Screenwriter Paul Guyot offers some great advice for aspiring writers for the new year:
A huge problem I see with people wanting to write for a living – more
screenwriters than prose for some reason – is that they are so
completely focused on getting an agent, or getting their script to a
producer or studio, or dreaming of that one spec sale that will solve
all their troubles, that they don’t spend any energy on becoming a good
…Try something new this year. Just for 6 months. Forget completely
about trying to get your scripts or books to agents or producers, or
trying to enter contests, or suck up to the rich producer/editor at the
party, or meet the "right" people.
And just concentrate on your writing. Making it better. I promise
you, on my granny’s grave, that your writing can be improved upon. That
script that you think you can’t do any more with – it can be better.
That manuscript you’ve tweak four or five times and think is your best
work ever – it can be better.
He gave this advice, and a whole lot more, in response to a question from a reader of his excellent blog. That reader didn’t take the advice very well and, basically, told him to go fuck himself, essentially underscoring the point Paul was trying to make. The reader thinks he’s owed a career simply because he can type stories in screenplay format — he hasn’t grasped the concept that being able to write actually counts, too.
But this attitude isn’t limited to screenwriters — you see it a lot with aspiring novelists who, rather than hone their craft, send their half-baked manuscripts and checks to iUniverse, lulu, and the like and expect this will lead to being a bestselling author. Too many aspiring writers these days are looking for short-cuts to success, a way to avoid all the hard work and rejection, and there simply aren’t any.