So You Want To Be A Screenwriter?

By Michael Schilf · May 18, 2010

Mama Gump says, “Life’s a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Well, not always. Eat too much, you’re gonna put on some pounds. Start snorting heroin, you’re gonna mess up your life. And if you want to be a screenwriter: “Run, stupid! Run!”

The life of a screenwriter might sound like utopia: you create amazing stories and get paid a lot of money to do it. Sure, if you believe in lies. The reality for the aspiring screenwriter is quite different:

(1) Practice. It takes time to become a good screenwriter, and nobody pays you to learn. So get a job, live your life, and write everyday. It takes ten years to have overnight success.

(2) Feedback. And not from Mom, who thinks all your writing is magnificent. Find fellow writers who dish out the hard (and often grim) truth. Nobody wants to hear “page one rewrite”, but you need people who can say it.

(3) Network. There are good writers out there with great scripts who won’t make it because they have no connections. You don’t break into Hollywood with a sledgehammer by yourself. You connect with other talented people and walk through the doors together.