We have had discussions with a number of writers out in the industry, and thanks to the likes of; Grace Offori-Attah, Tomisin Adepuju, Delia-René, Phil Ossai and Ambreen Razia, we’ve managed to collate a list of 10 things that writers should probably be doing!
1. Write – I know people tend to get fed up of hearing ‘work hard’, ‘keep pushing through’ and ‘be consistent’, but honestly, that is defining factor between having work and not having anything. You don’t necessarily have to have 100 full fleshed out scripts, but even having pitches, or at least a logline is something. How can you be a writer if you don’t write?
2. Build your network – don’t only aspire to be ‘buddy buddy’ with the people high up in the industry, make sure to build your network and support with those at similar levels as you, you’ll be surprised how beneficial it is. This eventually builds up to people having mentors and general allies that can support your work in rooms you haven’t been able to enter yet.
3. Networking events – We’ve established building your network is important, but one of the easiest ways to do that is attending networking events. Now, it’s fair to say not everyone has the social skills, so if that is way out of your comfort zone, you have Instagram (which is free), Twitter (also free) and Facebook (as of right now, still free). So there really is no excuse as to why you writers shouldn’t have a network.
4. Watch your craft – if you’re a script writer I expect that you would want to watch film and TV, if you’re a playwright, I’d expect to watch plays etc. (I’m sure you can follow where we are going with this). Engage in your craft, learning isn’t always googling hours on end and reading books about “how to be a writer”, sometimes it’s just being a consumer of what’s being made now and before.
5. Listen and Ignore – be open to receiving feedback about your work, as much as you want to love what you are creating, sharing your work is necessary, especially with people who have your best interest at heart. However, that doesn’t mean you fold yourself to everyone’s liking, you have a voice as writer and that should never be lost, so when advice and suggestions are against your voice as a writer, know when to ignore it.
6. Get an agent – as much as being an independent writer is beautiful in form of a ‘struggling artist’, it’s always important to have professional support and an agent is exactly that. They are skilled in getting you paid, finding you work and making sure your work is legally yours. Only so much googling can get you so far, so an agent is ideal.
7. Share – share your experiences with other writers, you never know how much sharing your journey can help out another person battling the same thing. Sometimes it’s just therapeutic to be able to discuss issues that only writers can understand, so share you experiences, talk about money, talk about ideas and talk about all the ways you aim to be become a better writer.
8. Research – look into the ways in which other successful writers have created a career in the industry, it doesn’t mean copying, but absorbing some beneficial information can prevent you from making mistakes through your journey as a writer. Look into earning as writer, as wonderful as it is to be passionate about writing and developing stories, if you want to pursuit a career that does require you getting paid for your hard word. Make sure you research into how much writers earn, so you don’t get screwed over (this also means discussing it with peers and agents too).
9. Live your life outside writing – it’s wonderful having the skill to write a simple idea and develop it into a whole 60-page script, but as everything in life, it all needs to be in moderation. Allow yourself to live a life outside writing, experience things, travel if your pocket allows, spend time with friends and family.
10. Don’t be scared to fail – The blank page is the scariest thing for writers, that fear of writing a crap storyline or cringe dialogue is the most uncomfortable position to be in as writer, but it’s ok! One of the biggest parts of writing (if not the biggest part) is editing, that’s what editing is for? Removing all the nonsense and refining your work into the gem it eventually be and if it doesn’t become a gem, at least you know what not to do. The art of failing is learning and unfortunately, it’s unavoidable, everyone fails at some point, but it’s learning from it that makes it worthwhile.