Are you obsessed with checking your inbox for replies from submissions? I’ll admit, I am, and it has absolutely been getting in the way of putting energy into producing new work to send out. It’s hard waiting for that reply to see whether or not your work has been accepted at the places you’ve sent it to.
I have fallen victim to the check-inbox forget writing syndrome while I waited with baited breath to hear back from producers and editors alike and the truth is, it’s hard. But if you (like me) forget to keep working on new material while you are watching the minutes on the clock and checking your inbox during and after work hours you will find you fall behind in your projects and the projects pile up whether or not you are paying attention to them.
There’s also the fact that writers are supposed to write, and if you’re not writing then you’re a wait-er, um, if that were a word. So the point is, keep writing. I have forgotten about the fact that being a writer means writing every day, and I have woken up to a long list of articles I meant to polish up and send out while waiting for responses and I’ll be putting in overtime to catch up. I have lost material I never knew I had by not focussing on my writing career in the areas I should have.
No one can make us come to our sacred space and force us to focus on produce new work. It is what we do when this vocation calls us. When procrastination gets in the way waiting on replies becomes what we as writers do in our spare time instead of keeping a notebook by our sides. We lose the opportunity to spend writing every spare moment we get; we lose a wealth of writing material that might have been the next best seller because we have simply let it go. I am changing this habit, starting today.
Not that long ago I have an in-depth conversation with a producer about the connection between writers who succeed in the industry and the writers who want to work in the industry. There is a huge difference. The writers who succeed often have portfolios of their work whether produced or not published or not, and the writers who want to work in the industry will often approach producers or editors with empty portfolios but armed with ideas.
The writer with the portfolio has the advantage. While some writers think that having a great pitch is enough to catch a producer’s attention, if the producer is looking to invest in a script right away those ideas aren’t going to help one bit with nothing to show for it. Although, it would be wise to develop your ideas before approaching producers or production companies. Also bring to the table more ideas and for possible future contracts if your pitch is successful.
The same does and does not apply to regular journalism. There are times when newspaper editors will be looking to “fill” a spot in their news page, and coming with an idea will be enough for an editor to tell you how many words they need and whether or not you’ll also need to source your own photos. Although this scenario is less and less likely as social networking platforms continue to expand.
Querying an editor instead of sending material directly is wise if this is your first time approaching the publication (unless they have put a call out for submissions).
If you are not well read on the types of materials the paper/publication produces, scrap the idea of sending a query and do your research on the publication then send queries to the editor. Finding out the editor’s name adds a personal professional touch and shows you are a serious writer that has taken the time to do some extra research.
At the same time, when you send the query, know that having an additional query (alternative story) for them to choose from is helpful for increasing the chances of selling your work.
If you are a short story writer and you have been circulating the same story or stories to publications it’s time to get your fingers to the grind and get typing. New material may be what you need to get the next publication’s attention.
When you are lost in the craziness of life and the habit we as writers have in the busy-ness of living you will find that sometimes writing goes to the wayside we must bring our writing back into focus, make writing goals, and get busy with the business of writing. Especially if what we want is a career as a writer, of any genre.
And hey, if you send out your work and each time you’ve received a reply the answer has been an automated rejection letter, keep at it. There are millions of people in the world, and for every writer who is working towards their goal of being published or produced an editor or producer, somewhere in the writing and scriptwriting world is bound to find merit in your work and publish or option it. The other option is, you publish or produce it yourself, and there are rewards in that, too.
Screenwriters: focus on what’s in front of you by making goals for your scriptwriting career. You could be the next Canadian scriptwriting success story and if your script doesn’t get to Hollywood in this lifetime, at least you will have done something.
You will have arrived to your writing space. You will have written something and by that very measure on some level, you will have conquered the literary and filmmaking world. #SAYITONCEMOREWITHFEELING #SPARTA2016