Let’s face it. Screenwriting is a hustle. Sure, writing skill is essential, but it can only take you so far. Being an aspiring writer trying to break in requires patience, tenacity and grit. These are essential components of a winning mindset.
Even professional WGA screenwriters hustle for their next jobs. There’s more to attaining professional screenwriter status than faking it until you’re making it (although it’s all part of the process.) There are many years of emotional peaks and troughs, near misses and failure to gain traction. Most decisions regarding your screenwriting career are outside your control, even outside your agent, manager or producer’s control. However you control what you write.
Do you know what’s in your control to making the journey to the top of screenwriting Mount Everest? Your mindset. You need to believe you will eventually make it. Here are some tips to a winners’ mentality to help you stay focused.
This is a visualization that you will eventually achieve screenwriting success. Picture yourself in a predefined situation. Think about how you might feel. Practice your award winning speech. Write a check to yourself for the purchase price of of your screenplay or watching your TV show on the screen to keep you motivated.
2) Set Writing Goals
Apart from the usual deadlines for completing your screenplay or TV pilot, think more strategically about your long and short term goals. Although entering five screenwriting contests a year is a goal, the outcome isn’t. Winning a scriptwriting competition shouldn’t be an end goal because it is outside your control. Put that in the bonus column. Screenwriter goals should also include attending networking mixers, taking writing classes, writing query letters, cold calling producers, attending screenwriting events or film festivals. Put these in a tangible form and in your calendar (especially deadlines) and make the number of tasks realistic.
This is a matter of making a conscious decision to go the hard yards and finish that film or TV script, watch that movie or attend that screenwriting conference. Take control of the writing tasks, out of the hands of fate and be accountable to yourself. Control your destiny.
Another important D word. Make a writing plan and stick to it. If you set aside some screenwriting time, strictly adhere to it. Create a regular routine and complete the screenwriting tasks regardless of how you feel. There are no shortcuts to success, so develop strong, workable habits.
Know your strengths and your weaknesses. Know how you perceive yourself and how others perceive you. Nobody’s perfect. Including you. And that’s OK. Develop a plan for what skills you need to work on. Focus on how your screenwriting goals align with your writing talents.
Give yourself a little pep talk after a writing session. Give yourself a positive affirmation every day. Tell yourself you can do it, especially after another rejection or period of self-doubt. Command your internal messaging system to tell you that you are worthy of screenwriting success and attract it.
Storytellers must experience life both directly and indirectly. You can’t be stuck behind your computer writing all the time. Do a hobby unrelated to screenwriting. Get life experience under your belt. Meet people. Practice meditation.
8) Stay present
There is no such thing as an overnight screenwriting success. The first time screenwriter who won an Oscar had years of practice. Celebrate small victories, no matter how seemingly insignificant. Assign bad industry experiences to the past and move forward with your screenwriter career. Don’t think too far in advance. Focus on what you’re currently writing. Minimize outcome expectations of things outside your control.