2017 - What Kind Of Screenwriter Are You Going To Be? | Script Revolution

2017 - What Kind Of Screenwriter Are You Going To Be?

Introduction: 

I hope you had a great Christmas. As we race toward the end of the year and face 2017, it's easy for us to start reflecting on what we've done and start planning what we hope to achieve over the next twelve months. However, we may want to stop and take a moment to change our perspective. I care a lot about this community and I want to do what I can to help everyone maximise not only our potentional but also our fulfilment. Let's make 2017 a great writing year for everybody, regardless of where we might might be in our development or careers - CJ

Can I ask you a strange question? What’s in your “to be” list? You have a to do list, right? A long list of tasks that you chop away at only for it to regrow like some mutated monster? And that list, it makes you do the things you need to do, right? But does it lead you toward being the person you want to be?

The concept of a “to be” list was something relayed to me by my girlfriend. It stems from authenticity. The more authentic we can be, to ourselves and others, the more fulfilled we should be. We are living up to the ideal that’s in our mind, not the ideal that’s projected by others. The need for it shouldn’t be underestimated either. We often picture our future selves behaving somewhat different to how we behave now, yet we never seem to catch up with that person we want to be.

Right now, many of us are staring into the abyss that is 2017. It’s weird how a year can both seem endless and fleeting at the same time. We want to achieve so much, so fast, while knowing the journey is long and time precious. The answer? Well, as absurd as it sounds, it’s enjoying what we do. That means putting ourselves under less pressure, less stress, and fewer deadlines. We are a culture convinced that reward stems from self-inflicted punishment. We slave away each day convinced we are paying into some form of karma system - we aren’t.

How about we mark off 2017 as the year we do what we want? Not what we want to achieve. Not what we have been putting off. What we get up in the morning and want to do. How about we write the stories that are bursting from our hearts and not created by our minds? How about we write those stories exactly how we want to see them? This shouldn’t be an absurd suggestion yet somehow it is. We have to know that thoughts like “will they like it” and “is this the best way” are toxic to our minds. Great work doesn’t stem from self doubt and caution, it comes from confidence and rebellion.

When I started Script Revolution, I had one belief. Every writer is worthy. It is the antitheses to the alternatives out there who believe in trying to rank art objectively and place writers in tiers. I believe that every writer has a great script within them but few are empowered with the freedom and confidence to find it. I feel that the elitism around writing only helps drive the majority of writers down. I think that’s wrong. I want to see that change. I want all writers to be able to look at each other and, regardless of standing, or awards, or number of produced scripts, and share a mutual respect for one another’s creativity, imagination, and talent.

So, with a “to be” list in mind, here are ten suggestions on who we all can be in 2017;

1: We can all be good writers.

This isn’t anywhere near as hard as the gurus want to make it sound. Being a good writer doesn’t mean we must struggle our way through ten screenwriting books. It doesn’t mean we must seek out the kind of feedback that knocks us to the ground. It means we must be the writers who are always willing to learn at our own pace. Writers who see a marathon ahead and not a sprint. 

2: We can all care about writing.

That sounds crazy, right? Surely obvious? But there’s a big difference between the kind of care we give to paying our mortgage and the kind of care we give to our loved ones. Caring about writing means respecting that our passion is vulnerable and precious. We have to want to write rather than need to write - there’s a big difference between the two.

3: We can all be willing to work.

Work can be a dirty word because we’ve come to associate it with what we hate most about our lives. However, work is core to our wellbeing. We hate being idle and without purpose far more. The important thing? Work we enjoy barely feels like work at all and ultimately we get to chose the workload that makes us happy. By writing what we want to to write we maximise our enjoyment of work.

4: We can all be good in a room.

And that room is bigger and more widespread than ever. Every time we tweet, we are in the room. Every post we make on a forum puts us in the room. All we need to do is be sincere. It’s easy for us to pitch our ideas with too much enthusiasm and react to feedback with too much emotion. These are good problems to have and something easy to dial back. Nobody ever walks away from an artist who struggles to hold back their passion.

5: We can all stay focused on our values.

The good news is it doesn’t take much more than a little introspection to discover them. We need to be the kind of people who are prepared to stop, reflect, and consider if the person we are being is really us or a version of ourselves wearing a mask to fit in and please others. If our values are purely artistic, then we must be prepared to be rebels and, if our values are purely to make money, then we must be prepared to be treated like commodities.

6: We can all be smart.

Not Nobel prize winning smart. Not Jeopardy winning smart. Not even third grade math class smart. We need to be artistically smart. That means being able to face subjectivity with indifference. It means being able to see shortsightedness in peers. It means respecting that business and academia are part of the screenwriting world but far from the whole of it. Ultimately it means being the kind of people who can see the madness of stupidity prevalent in this industry and see past it.

7: We can all be patient.

And that’s hard, damn hard. We can pretend time isn’t ticking by but that only leads to further anxiety when we come back to reality. We have to look at our lifetimes in a different light. We have to strive to be content now and make a deal with ourselves that we aren’t going to regret it in the future. What makes us happy now is crafting what we care about, in a way we care about, at a pace that allows us to care about ourselves. The world can wait for us.

8: We can all be creatively satisfied.

This doesn’t have to come from completion of a script. It doesn’t have to come from completion of a portfolio or a life’s work. It doesn’t have to come from completion at all and most likely never will. We know that feelings of achievement quickly fade to stress about what to finish next. We have to understand that creative satisfaction derives from what we are doing in the moment. By loving the moment we can rest assured that it will ultimately be part of our opus.

9: We can all be present.

Sadly this is a feeling we only tend to appreciate when we are on holiday or witnessing something incredible. This is something we typically feel for a moment during laugher or love. We have to feel part of the entire universe and that anything can happen. That we and everything around us are wondrous. We must be the kind of people who don’t let the mundanity of life eclipse our existence. This month’s rent may feel like nothing else matters more, but it is infinitesimal against the need for any creative to put their real selves out there.

10: We can all keep going.

I read about writers wanting to give up everyday. They want to give up because writing has become something that hurts them. It is like a destructive addiction. I’ve been there so many times myself. It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of caring too much about the things that don’t matter. It doesn’t matter if someone doesn’t like our material providing it’s the material that represents us. It doesn’t matter that someone else got a big break providing we are content with what we are doing now. We have to remember, there is no happier writer than the one who is writing what they love and loving what they write. To keep going, we must be prepared to cheer ourselves along until we find the audience out there that’s waiting to cheer along with us.

So, now over to you. With that in mind, tell me; who do you need to be in 2017 and what does that person need to write?

And to play this year out, a little song that says a lot about other people’s opinions and how much you should allow them to steer your life.

About The Author

CJ Walley's picture
Real name: 

I’m here for the gritty movies, the rebellious movies, those films that pack a punch far harder than their budgets would suggest.

As a spec script writer, I love to create pulpy thrillers, mostly with female leads, that feature strong themes, brutal action, witty dialogue, and twisting scenes that have characters vying for power or falling for one another.

As a producer and writer-for-hire, I’m production savvy, budget conscious, and market orientated, able to write in a...Read more

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