Recently the WGA West invited Tom Dever, Coverfly’s Director Writer Development, to speak with their Committee of Women Writers. The WGA Committee of Women Writers represents the interests of female WGA writers who are seeking WGA-covered work. They sponsor events designed to increase our knowledge of the craft and the marketplace, discuss the role of women as storytellers, and foster networking and collaboration between women in all Guilds, as well as increase opportunities for education, employment opportunities, and creative expression.
Tom spoke about the state of the industry, opportunities for veteran women writers in development and representation, and general conversation on the craft and career of screenwriting. The event was private and for WGA members only, but here’s a quick rundown of what you missed, and how you can take the next step in your screenwriting career
Be your own best advocate
You do not need somebody else’s permission or contacts to pursue the career you want for yourself. You don’t need a manager or agent to set generals or meet with execs. Don’t be afraid to generate those opportunities for yourself any way you can (without breaking the law!).
Accelerate your career through self-generated opportunities. The time has never been better to promote your skills and your work. Enter competitions, promote your writing and get your name out there.
Never apologize for your goals, ambitions, passions, ideas, or strengths. Someone has to do your dream job so it might as well be you! You are smart, capable, resilient, and talented enough to do it. Believe that you can be a working screenwriter and you can be.
Don’t chase trends
Film industry trends change faster than you can write. If you pitched John Wick, Stranger Things, or Get Out ten years ago, you’d have been shown the door and without getting your parking validated. So don’t try to write what you think other people want, because it’s a waste of time. Write what you want instead.
Write what you’re good at, no matter which genre it might be. And stay focused on what you want to do; not what you feel you’re expected to do. Not only will it make you happier, but it will likely lead to more professional writing opportunities than just following the crowd.
Be open to feedback in all forms
There is no universal metric of quality for material, especially not screenplays. Sure, there are common screenwriting conventions you should follow, but everyone scores scripts under subjective criteria. One reader could think you’re a genius, while another thinks your script is trash. That doesn’t make either of them right or wrong.
Take feedback and criticism in stride, because even bad feedback can help you grow as a writer. And remember, you’re neither required to take all of their feedback nor should you dismiss their opinions as a vendetta. Reviews and critiques are just data points on how someone responds to your material. Hear it. Heed it. Hopefully, you can use it.
Where you go from there is up to you.
Look in the long view
Despite a handful of “success stories,” nothing happens in Hollywood overnight. Script deals take time. Finding the right agent isn’t a one-shot thing. Even if you nail your first general meeting, you still have a lot of work left to do and a lot of time before you see the results of your hard work. And that’s ok.
Screenwriting is all about hurrying up and waiting. Things take time here to go from script to signing to screen. Learn to love the in-between times. And if you get impatient, just remember what your ultimate goal is. You can have a day, a week, or a month, where you don’t make the progress you’d hoped for. But when you trace your progress over the past 6, 12, or 18 months you should discover that you’re moving in the right direction. If that isn’t the case, then it’s time to rethink your strategy.
How screenwriters get discovered
Take advantage of Coverfly. Sorry I had to plug. Coverfly is here as a platform to help screenwriters at every stage in their career, whether you’re just starting out or you have multiple credits and still need a little support finding industry partners or pitching projects. Through our programs, initiatives, products, services, and community, we’re here to help take that next step in your career whatever it is.
Create your Coverfly Screenwriting profile today and see what taking the next step in your writing career really looks like.