Monday, September 20, 2010

Personal connections and other frustrations

Vic writes: Do you hang out with writers? If so, what do you talk about that frustrates you all the most?

Yep, I have plenty of writer friends, and they all have plenty of frustrations! First off, writing is hard. Why don't my scripts write themselves?

I hear a lot of newer writers complain that they feel like they don't have the personal connections they need to succeed in their careers. They hate the stories of people with important parents, friends, spouses, etc. Those people have it so much easier! It's just not fair. But honestly, it's a waste of time to worry about stuff like that. Nobody ever said Hollywood was fair. You can't control other people and their advantages; the only thing you can control is your writing. A wise writer friend of mine recently reminded me that when the industry starts to frustrate you, the only cure is to throw yourself into your writing and come out with a fantastic script. Also, every writer will get help from their own personal connections at some point. You'll have a friend or old coworker or someone who will do you a favor - and then I bet you won't be complaining about how some people get special treatment.

I think writers also feel frustrated that studios and networks aren't buying the kinds of things that writers want to be writing, whether it's TV cop procedurals or feature remakes and adaptations (John August wrote a great post about board game movies here). It's good to be aware of what's selling and what's being made (after all, movies and TV shows need to make money, and we don't want to waste our time), but I think sometimes writers get too obsessed with the idea of commercial viability. Early in his career, one of my screenwriting professors kept trying to write a feature he thought would sell, and nothing worked. He got so frustrated that he finally wrote a super un-commercial character drama and period piece about his childhood, almost as an FU to Hollywood...and that was his first sale. I love that story - it proves that people respond to passion!

I don't want to complain too much on here, but I do admit that I get frustrated when fantastic movies are flops, and when my favorite TV shows get Scott Pilgrim! It makes me sad that there might be people sitting a room going "what a mistake," when it was a great movie. But I get it. Money is money.

What frustrates you guys?

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samuel.x.killer said...

Sitcom writer Sheldon Bull has a post in a similar vein:

Cobblestone Creative said...

Do something for all comes around

Dan Williams said...

The endless fighting in the Middle East frustrates the heck out of me.

Usually when I feel frustrated it's because I'm pressing to hard, and so it's a signal for me to let go for a while. I do something enjoyable for 15 minutes and then go back to it more relaxed.

But I hate it when a tv show I like is cancelled. It's like losing a whole bunch of friends all at the same time.

Unknown said...

My biggest frustration is that I cannot eat a pint of ice cream every night. As far as writing...what frustrates me is the realization of the universal truth that it’s going to take a while to get good. And that getting good only comes through hard work. In a fast food, immediate gratification society, it’s easy to want to be an amazing writer right of the bat. For most mere mortals that ain’t happening. I’ve accepted that it’s going to take some time. I’ve ensconced myself in the driver’s seat for the long haul that it takes to get great.

Cobblestone Creative said...

My biggest frustration outside of writing is money.

My biggest frustration about screenwriting is that if you get a manager, an agent, and a great STILL have to be a damned salesman! I suck @ sales! Dammit!

Bryan said...

Living in the Midwest, and not having money to relocate at present. I read on the internet that the economy sucks, and now I'm starting to believe it. Guess I'll just go back to watching Phineas and Ferb and figure out how to sell my spare organs.

Nimat said...

I'm frustrated that I can't come out to LA as planned. I have a family and it hurts to have to leave them behind in hopes of being successful out there. I wish we could all leave as a family. Emotionally it would be so much easier. Another thing that frustrates me is that writing choose me. I wish I could just be a blind corporate dummy with a middle class life-style instead of a passionate struggling artist.

Crystal said...

My biggest frustration is how impossible and confusing the business is. I can barely find an internship out of college but less and entry level job in film that I would likely hate. I think it will help when I make more friends in the industry, but I just moved to LA about a month ago, and those things take time.

Christine Conradt said...

This is a great post. What frustrates me is when you have the capacity to make a script better and the producers, network execs, and powers that be... won't let you. At the end of the day, on the days that happens, I feel much like a glorified typist.