TOM HANKS STRANDED ON AN ISLAND WRITING ON A STONE, IN A NOT TOTALLY SANE PLACE: THIS IS YOU AT THE BEGINNING OF YOUR CAREER.  (CASTAWAY by Robert Zemekis. property of: 20th Century Fox & Dreamworks. 

TOM HANKS STRANDED ON AN ISLAND WRITING ON A STONE, IN A NOT TOTALLY SANE PLACE: THIS IS YOU AT THE BEGINNING OF YOUR CAREER.  (CASTAWAY by Robert Zemekis. property of: 20th Century Fox & Dreamworks. 

The Beginning is the Least Fun-est or How to Survive Being a Non-Working Writer

The beginning of your journey — before you are hired to write your first script — is the hardest part. Let me say first, you should try to live in Los Angeles. No, no one loves it here, but here is where the stepping stones are. You can’t step on the stones if you are in Indianapolis and the stones are in Los Angeles. Feel me? But let’s say you can’t come to LA. This advice applies no matter where you live. 

Read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. Among other gems about success and motivation, he concludes that the jobs where we succeed are the ones where there is a correlation between what we put into it and the amount of validation we receive for doing it. 

This is why the beginning of your journey is the least fun-est. Because the only one who is validating you is you. Your friends are out drinking and meeting attractive people. Your friends are stoned at the beach. Your friends are working 9-5 jobs that they can forget about when it’s not 9-5. Your friends get money from their parents. 

Someday, you will be a successful writer living your dream and your friends may or may not be failures who are jealous of you. But between now and then is your relentless hard work with little validation. 

Let me tell you this nugget, and it is true and it was said to me, and let you repeat it to yourself as a mantra on Saturday nights when your friends are getting laid and on Thursday nights when you hear your neighbors watching TV and you are eating the only dinner possible when you have negative three dollars in your bank account, hunched over your laptop working on your spec as your weary eyelids flutter: 100 People say they are Screenwriters. 90 of them Are not writing. Be in the 10 who are. 

You may not be the most trust fund-ed. You may not be the most connected. You may not be the most talented (j/k, i’m sure you are). But you work the hardest. You go to your temp job. You come home. You shut off the internet. You write until you go to sleep. You write on the weekends. Your friends say ‘but i just can’t find the time to work on my writing when I am also having to work my job to pay the bills’ and you say — 'Stop chatting me. I’m turning off the internet so I can write.'

KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE PRIZE. 

If you can make it through the beginning, if you can pull ahead as all around you, aspiring writers fall victim to procrastination, distraction, lack of discipline, you will become a WORKING WRITER.