I recently came across this story on the web "First time writer's success." It always makes me smile when I see these sort of headlines. How does it make you feel?
For some people it gives a boost to their daydream of becoming a professional screenwriter. For others it is another kick in the guts, "How come they just fall into a job and I can't get anywhere after years of trying."
Well the truth is both reactions are equally ridiculous because the headline is nonsense. The press love to roll out the overnight success story when in fact it is never true.
Now I know there will be the people out there shouting, “But what about so and so? They were a first time, unknown writer and they sold their script for zillions” … Etc, etc.
In regards to overnight successes all I’ll say is this –
There is always a story behind the story.
Trust me, dig deep enough and you discover these individuals have worked incredibly hard to achieve their first time success. The twenty something wunderkind was probably making mini epics on home video at eight years old and editing and writing music scores; like Steven Spielberg making “Fighter Squad” at 14 or Rian Johnson of “Brick” fame who spent 9 years getting the film made. They had built up years of storytelling practice.
Or they have moved to screenwriting from an extensive background in another writing discipline, such as novels or theatre: Tom Stoppard, Lee Hall and the headliner that inspired this piece, Trevor Lloyd. Others will have learned their craft by working for years as a script editor.
Even in my own case when I look back I realise now that I was always reading and that my huge family were always gossiping, arguing and telling stories. I absorbed all that language and drama.
Finally there are the self-publicists. Remember this headline that was in all the papers a few years back?
Cabbie Sells Movie Script for £1 Million<
Unless you work full time in the film and TV industry you can have no idea how it REALLY works. It amazes me how often the information that circulates is completely inaccurate or a very polished version of the truth. For example, getting paid to write? Most writers seeking their first commission are only doing a fraction of what they need do to achieve this. They HOPE to be discovered. The reality is that all the writers I know who have got their break were massively proactive and had a strategy.
If you've ever attended one of our courses you will be aware of how I bang on about the fact that in order to achieve success you only need to follow a very simple formula, TALENT + EFFORT + STRATEGY = SUCCESS.
It’s that simple. And the harder you work on each of the ingredients you use the bigger the result you achieve.
It's important to ditch the day dreaming or worrying about becoming an overnight sensation. You are only getting a tiny part of the truth. Instead concentrate on improving your craft skills and plan a career strategy based on how the industry REALLY works.
”With no over-inflated egos, no 'magic formulas' and emphasis on pure commitment and hard work - I particularly liked the way Adrian cut through the crap and told it like it really is!
You need THE FACTS, not the misleading press releases, not the kindly, encouraging words extolled to writers groups but the story behind the story. The best way is to speak directly to a working professional, someone who is already doing the job you want to do. But how do you get to meet these elusive creatures? Well now is your chance to meet four of them.
In an effort to provide exactly the information you need we have organised our latest course, The Long Distance Screenwriter. I have persuaded some of the busiest and nicest screenwriters I know to make themselves available to share their experiences with you. This is your chance to learn how Marc Pye, Rob Fraser and Louise Ironside got their break and a chance to ask for recommendations on how you should build your career.
As with our previous courses this will be a relaxed and fun event that is crammed with practical info that you cannot get anywhere else.
In the morning I will be updating you with the very latest opportunities for writers in the film and TV industry. This will be broken up by the coffee break and light lunch we provide. Many former attendees have commented that this is one of the most valuable elements of the day as it is a great opportunity to meet other writers and industry professionals.
The afternoon will be spent with our panel of writers. I know that you will be inspired and encouraged by the wealth of experience and very down to earth approach of all of them. I am really looking forward to this class and places are rapidly starting to fill up as folk have kindly spread their recommendations far and wide. Here's just a few of the testimonials about our most recent class.
”I hugely enjoyed last Saturday, talked to lots of interesting people, and found your comments both useful and practical. Before last week I wasn’t sure what I should do next. I know now!
”I have nothing but praise for the way in which the day was presented and the information imparted. Now I feel like it is only a matter of time until I am writing full time. I will certainly come to another event organised by you as I can honestly say it was worth every penny and that's praise indeed from a student!
“I found the class very friendly and informative as well as packed with useful tips. It was also inspirational in that it provided essential tools for selling scripts to the right people.
We have started advertising this class early because we know people like to travel to our events and this give you a chance to seek out early bird travel deals. Edinburgh in June is beautiful so don't miss the chance to have a day of inspiration and career building info that you wont find anywhere else. Thanks to all who've already signed up for our forth coming class in June. Even if you cannot attend the class please spread the word to others who may be interested.
Saturday 9 June
St Columba's By The Castle Church Hall, Johnston Terrace Edinburgh
10.00 am - 4.30pm
COST £55 (inc VAT and light lunch)
CONTACT: firstname.lastname@example.org or 0131 554 4539
A FREE 15 page Booklet of career building tips for writers is available on request by e-mail.