How did you get over your writing insecurities?

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  • How did you get over your writing insecurities?

    You know; the fear of having others read your work. That nagging voice in the back of your mind that says "your no good at this" or "your going to fall flat on your face like every other Hollywood hack". The doubts about your future as a writer, and the worries over what people will think of you when you say "I'm a screenwriter!" (even though you've technically never sold anything). Most of all, the fear that you're blind to the fact that your script, well, isn't as good as you think it is. That it may suck actually

    How did you overcome these fears?

  • #2
    Re: How did you get over your writing insecurities?

    In terms of overcoming insecurities – all you can do is suck it up. Or don’t write. A healthy dose is fine, and will help prevent getting carried away but too much is, well, too much.

    "You're going to fail" is just setting yourself up to fail and so anyone who truly feels that way shouldn't even start. Would you start a business if you really thought you were on to a loser? Would you get married if you thought it'll end in divorce? Likewise for if you care what other people think. Don't do it if their sneering opinion matters. You have to believe to get success. You’ll never meet a famous actor, rock star or businessman who believed they weren’t good enough. Because people who don’t believe don’t put in the effort, don’t work hard, don’t make sacrifices, quit their day job and decamp to LA. Not everyone who does this *will* make it but they give themselves a chance.

    If you haven't sold anything then don't worry about calling youself a screenwriter when you haven't sold anything - because you aren't one. So don't introduce yourself as one. Just say you write scripts or that you want to be screenwriter.

    Blindness to your script - there is no definite cure for that. Some overcome it, some don't. All you can do is try to grow and see how yours stacks up against pro scripts and get opinion from people in the know.

    Go into it with hope and a healthy respect for the odds but don't weigh yourself down with doubt and negativity. The industry itself will provide more than enough of that!
    SundownInRetreat
    Member
    Last edited by SundownInRetreat; 05-04-2013, 04:05 AM.

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    • #3
      Re: How did you get over your writing insecurities?

      I could be *entirely* wrong about this, but I'm suspecting that the "96" on Liv's name might stand for a birth year. Checking her posting history, she joined the board just a couple of weeks ago, and was recently asking about going to college in another thread.

      So if she's an early starter, excellent!

      Liv, I would suggest you to simply post some of your pages on our Script Pages forum. If you are as young as I think you are, state so. And be open about being a beginner, and ignorant at screenwriting. People will probably a bit kinder on your work.

      If you haven't written a feature, write a short. People will gladly review a 4-page short. Often more so than 4 first pages of a feature. Writing shorts means that you actually *finish* stuff, instead of working years and years on that feature film script, which just never becomes ready. Writing a feature film is a gargantuan job, especially when you do it the first time. With your experience, you might lack the craftsmanship and discipline to pull it off (Neither which is intended as an insult).

      After you post those 4 pages... Will you take a beating? Yes. Everyone will, in the beginning. But don't be scared of it.

      Before even posting anything, I would suggest you to read 15-30 script pages threads by other members. This will show you how good writers the other members are (rarely very good), which members are particularly good at giving constructive feedback (Many aren't), and what to NOT to do when you answer back to them. Which means don't be insecure, with illusions of grandeur. And particularly, don't get angry at criticism.

      Some of the people who do comments are even established Hollywood screenwriters. And there are some who work in Hollywood, but haven't yet made a name for themselves. And then there are many experienced non-professionals. Be nice to all of them.

      Positive feedback is what gets you over your writing insecurities. But it takes a bit of work. You need to write, and get feedback. Write, and get feedback.

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      • #4
        Re: How did you get over your writing insecurities?

        Originally posted by Liv96 View Post
        You know; the fear of having others read your work. That nagging voice in the back of your mind that says "your no good at this" or "your going to fall flat on your face like every other Hollywood hack". The doubts about your future as a writer, and the worries over what people will think of you when you say "I'm a screenwriter!" (even though you've technically never sold anything). Most of all, the fear that you're blind to the fact that your script, well, isn't as good as you think it is. That it may suck actually

        How did you overcome these fears?

        My simple advice would be for you to search out interviews with your favorite screenwriters on youtube. You might be pleasantly surprised how many professionals still carry the heavy, soul-sucking weight of insecurity.

        Insecurity sucks, but it can also become a powerful tool if you allow it to be. I also think it has more to do with controlling these emotions rather than overcoming them.

        (side note: if you can, check out TALES FROM THE SCRIPT and DREAMS ON SPEC)

        PS. Just me, but I disagree with the statement that you can only call yourself a screenwriter if you have sold something

        *I do want to add, that you should concern yourself less with calling yourself a screenwriter and more about writing scripts.

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        • #5
          Re: How did you get over your writing insecurities?

          most people never get over it. bill goldman once told me the only people who love to write and are happy writing are **** writers, and my experience tends to affirm this.
          in time when you get lots of nice feedback from your work by people and producers you respect, the insecurity abates but i think a certain discomfort with certain parts of the process remains, and in fact, serves you.

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          • #6
            Re: How did you get over your writing insecurities?

            Originally posted by tuukka View Post
            I could be *entirely* wrong about this, but I'm suspecting that the "96" on Liv's name might stand for a birth year. Checking her posting history, she joined the board just a couple of weeks ago, and was recently asking about going to college in another thread.

            So if she's an early starter, excellent!
            You caught me! Yes, I'll be 17 in October, and I am an early starter.

            I haven't really written much yet (nothing good anyways), so for now I've played it safe and just stuck to reading a heap of books; you're screenplay sucks, screenwriting for dummies, save the cat, writing the tv drama series, selling your story in 60 seconds, dialogue secrets, the independent filmmakers handbook, etc: do you guys think 'reading' will get me by just as well as writing? Or am I wasting my time with this

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            • #7
              Re: How did you get over your writing insecurities?

              Originally posted by Liv96 View Post
              You caught me! Yes, I'll be 17 in October, and I am an early starter.

              I haven't really written much yet (nothing good anyways), so for now I've played it safe and just stuck to reading a heap of books; you're screenplay sucks, screenwriting for dummies, save the cat, writing the tv drama series, selling your story in 60 seconds, dialogue secrets, the independent filmmakers handbook, etc: do you guys think 'reading' will get me by just as well as writing? Or am I wasting my time with this
              Good for you. I wish I had started as young as you. And reading everything you can get your hands on is never a bad thing, including scripts. In fact, you should read a lot of scripts, both good and bad and work to discover the differences.

              But... there is nothing that's a better learning tool than doing. Writing. As much as you can. And rewriting. And writing more. As you've been advised earlier on this thread... write short scripts. See if you can distill a good seven page story. I wish you nothing but success and there are a whole lot of people on this forum, I'm sure, that will try and help you to accomplish just that.

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              • #8
                Re: How did you get over your writing insecurities?

                In grad school, a major focus in the writing department was workshops. We'd meet once a week to discuss in a big group what we liked or didn't like about each story we got from another student the week before. The professor directed our discussion.

                It was a great way to learn how to both give and receive notes. One guy was nothing but defensive and eventually the professor barred him from submitting anymore material to the group. He had to beg to be allowed to participate again.

                But those types of environments exist outside of school. If you can find a great writers group in your area, I highly recommend it, especially at this early stage.

                I think this is one of those things that's hard to overcome until you've had a lot of experience with it. You can tell yourself to stop being insecure all you like, but you're still going to feel it until you get used to having your work criticized. So jump in and do it and be patient. Try to remember that this person is trying to help you get better. That's the mission - improvement. And expect to need a lot of it.

                That's the best advice I can give. Good luck.
                Chicks Who Script podcast

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                • #9
                  Re: How did you get over your writing insecurities?

                  Originally posted by emily blake View Post
                  In grad school, a major focus in the writing department was workshops. We'd meet once a week to discuss in a big group what we liked or didn't like about each story we got from another student the week before. The professor directed our discussion.

                  It was a great way to learn how to both give and receive notes. One guy was nothing but defensive and eventually the professor barred him from submitting anymore material to the group. He had to beg to be allowed to participate again.

                  But those types of environments exist outside of school. If you can find a great writers group in your area, I highly recommend it, especially at this early stage.

                  I think this is one of those things that's hard to overcome until you've had a lot of experience with it. You can tell yourself to stop being insecure all you like, but you're still going to feel it until you get used to having your work criticized. So jump in and do it and be patient. Try to remember that this person is trying to help you get better. That's the mission - improvement. And expect to need a lot of it.

                  That's the best advice I can give. Good luck.
                  This was my experience as well. Creative writing workshops in college. Then screenwriting workshops. And more screenwriting workshops.

                  Trial and error was the best thing for me. You only learn through failure.

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                  • #10
                    Re: How did you get over your writing insecurities?

                    Originally posted by Liv96 View Post
                    You caught me! Yes, I'll be 17 in October, and I am an early starter.

                    I haven't really written much yet (nothing good anyways), so for now I've played it safe and just stuck to reading a heap of books; you're screenplay sucks, screenwriting for dummies, save the cat, writing the tv drama series, selling your story in 60 seconds, dialogue secrets, the independent filmmakers handbook, etc: do you guys think 'reading' will get me by just as well as writing? Or am I wasting my time with this
                    Some screenwriting books are good. But potentially, they can also teach you to blindly follow whatever rules the screenwriting "guru" wants you to follow. So they are a double-edged sword. I actually think they are more useful for people who are a little bit more experienced.

                    You are better served by reading scripts. Really, read 50-100 produced screenplays, doesn't really matter which, and you have already learnt a great deal. You learn format, structure, pacing, descriptions, dialogue, character, story. Places like IMDB, and many others, offer screenplays for free.

                    After reading a lot of professional scripts, reading bad scripts is also helpful - But only after you have read the good ones, and you have some context. By reading bad scripts, you learn what not to do. Places like Trigger Street and Zoetrope have a lot of bad amateur scripts. Amazon as well.

                    If you want some really nuts and bolts advice, of what would be an effective work plan to get you started, here it is.

                    1. Stop reading screenwriting books, for a while.

                    2. Stop spending time on this forum, except for making yourself familiar with the Script Pages forum (And of course the Advanced Pages forum).

                    3. Read at least 3-4 produced screenplays every week. Keep on doing so, until you have read at least 50. I can't emphasize how important this is. This will make you understand how screenplays are supposed to be written.

                    4. Watch a lot of the best short movies on youtube. 20-30 of them. You can google for "best of" lists.

                    5. Write a script for a short movie.

                    6. Abandon it for one week, then re-write it. It's very difficult to do re-writes without having some time off from your project. Spend the time in between reading more scripts.

                    7. Post the short script on the Script Pages forum. Wait for feedback.

                    (If you can attend workshops, that's awesome. But most places don't have many of those available)

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                    • #11
                      Re: How did you get over your writing insecurities?

                      Thanks for all this great advice everyone; I really appreciate it

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                      • #12
                        Re: How did you get over your writing insecurities?

                        Any time I'm feeling insecure about my writing, I kill a kitten. It always helps me keep things in perspective.

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                        • #13
                          Re: How did you get over your writing insecurities?

                          Originally posted by Richmond Weems View Post
                          Any time I'm feeling insecure about my writing, I kill a kitten. It always helps me keep things in perspective.
                          Oh yeah, oh yeah yeah. Or kick little, bitty puppies! Yip! Yip! Hooray!!!
                          "I just couldn't live in a world without me."

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                          • #14
                            Re: How did you get over your writing insecurities?

                            I increased my output. Suddenly, my self-esteem wasn't hanging on the fate of any given project.

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                            • #15
                              Re: How did you get over your writing insecurities?

                              Not sure if I missed some sarcasm but kudos on you almost being 17. I joined this board in 2006 when I was 17 so it happens.

                              As crazy as the odds are of becoming a paid screenwriter I can't help but feel that you need to always believe that you can make it, even if that's not the reality for many people. If you don't believe you can do it, that shows on the page and then others start to believe you can't do it either.

                              Don't get me wrong, we all have days where we want to crawl in a hole and die because of notes, critiques, or just a bad writing day in general -- those are unavoidable. But my motto was always, "Why not me? Somebody has to make it."

                              I started writing at 17, but I quit for about 3 years, and then picked it back up and have been writing since. I finally feel this year is when I decided I knew what I was doing and it's shown in my writing. It's been crazy to watch and hear, but even people who have been reading my work for years tell me they can see the boost in confidence -- they can feel it in my voice. Now I just always write with that same attitude even if some days I wonder what the hell I'm doing or where I'm going with a sequence or idea. It's a gut feeling that you're doing it right.

                              Maybe it's all working out because I'm happy to finally say I have a script going out in the next week or so, a pilot we are going to try to sell, and staffing meetings coming in for the month of May. Yes, I had to write well to get to this point, but I don't think I would have written as well if I didn't believe I could do those things.

                              I used to coach so I somehow always end up using sport quotes to relate to writing but there was one I always loved: "Play like your the best, practice like you're the worst."

                              I'm sure that somehow spins to writing right?
                              Quack.

                              Writer on a cable drama.

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