Guest Blogger, Steven Arvanites, founder of NYC Screenwriters Group
To listen to Steven’s interview on the show: http://bit.ly/UieCca
When I started screenwriting nearly 13 years ago, I could not imagine the creative journey I would take. As in any profession there are many highs, as well as lows. If there is one defining lesson I have learned it is to enjoy success because another challenge is always around the corner. Perseverance is the best defense against failure and to always remember – it is never personal and it’s all about relationships.
Also, I learned screenwriting is not a hobby. It is a vocation and craft. If you treat it seriously, you learn it like electrical engineering or truck driving. Malcom Gladwell says you must do something 10,000 hours to be really good at it. As a script analyst, I am always asked by clients how they can improve their writing. First, it takes many hours of BIC time (butt in chair) and, secondly, read other scripts good and bad. Screenwriters have a unique challenge to write textually but create a visual tableau. This is an oxymoron, but there lies the thrill.
In studying the craft of other writers, you’ll find they all have a unique voice. What is a “voice?” No one way to describe it but you know it when you read it. When you read Juno by Diablo Cody, you hear a voice. When you read a David Mamet play, you hear his voice. When you see any Charlie Kaufman movie, you know it can only come from his mind. So how do you develop a great voice? First, it comes from writing what you truly love. It is your thoughts, ideas and feelings unfiltered. Most of all, it is a point of view on a subject, feelings or behavior that is entirely yours. It is embracing what is uniquely you. But you can never find your voice by writing one screenplay. It is something that is defined, honed over many drafts and incarnations.
Finding your voice happens when you do not try to imitate door please others. It comes from place of confidence and knowing that what you have to say is entirely unique and cannot be copied by anyone else, as it is solely your point of view on paper.
Finding your voice has rewards creatively and financially. Ultimately, you will become a brand that producers seek out for their projects. They pay substantial sums to have you pen your voice on a paid assignment that you have practiced and refined over months and sometimes years.
When writers from my organization, NYCscreenwrter.org, inquire about how to be a good screenwriter, I usually give themthe Greek philosopher Socrates’ advice and say, “know thyself.” Knowing what makes you uniquely you is essential. You will be happy in your personal and professional life. By truly knowing what makes you tick, you can transfer it onto page quickly and confidently.
And, finally, the answer to the question, “how to be a good screenwriter?”; it is no secret. The answer is hard work. Always practice your craft, develop your voice and you will find inner and outer success. Good luck and remember, writing is rewriting.
Free membership: http://nycscreenwriter.org/MEMBERSHIP.html
Please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org