I have a dear friend who recently told me that, especially on days when he is frustrated with his writing, he wonders: what did I do today that will advance my writing career? And when you look at that closely, you are usually surprised to find that you did a lot of things. It’s just that, like so much of life, forward movement is incremental, right?
To paraphrase someone, most of life is spent queuing for something. But if it weren’t for the tiny pixelated steps, the larger image could never come into focus. Every day we are pointillist painters, we are writers. And here are the five areas of her life as a writer that, for my money, are going to collectively focus on a career.
Write Promote the Network Learn Live Well
That’s right: WPNLL – pronounced – wipnill
So consider adding the following to your daily regimen:
WRITE every day. You may have more than one project you are working on; tend to at least one of them. And yes, brainstorming and spitting is more productive and falls into this category, absolutely.
PROMOTE your material. Write and send inquiry letters, enter prose or script writing contests, follow up on calls, meetings, and inquiries. Stay on top of who has your material, when you will receive a response, and what new opportunities have arisen since then.
NETWORK with both other writers and professionals when possible. If you are on a writing or screenwriting message board, visit it daily for relationships. If you write or read blogs, visit and comment. Keep building those relationships. Are you enrolled in a class? How about a one hour adjoining Learning course? Is there a film festival or community gathering in two weeks? Register. Continually seek opportunities large and small to create, maintain, and nurture relationships with other writers and aspiring filmmakers of any kind. Networking is extraordinarily powerful. It is impossible to overstate that fundamental truth.
LEARN more about the trade and business constantly. Follow the trades. If Hollywood Reporter or Variety are too much to absorb on a regular basis, read Entertainment Weekly, a quasi-swap with dating, box office, and celebrity news. Subscribe to Creative Screenwriting, Script Magazine or Written By. Enroll in classes, read books, and watch lots of movies. Prose writers should be subscribed to Poets & Writers or Writer’s Digest.
LIVE WELL taking care of your essential core. Writers are sensitive souls. Pouring our hearts onto the page is what we do. So be sure to exercise, get enough sleep, meditate, or somehow return to your creative and essential self so that you can maintain and nurture the energy needed to perform steps one through four above. This one cannot be overemphasized or overemphasized either. An exhausted writer does not produce good material and is not fun to be with. Put your well-being before everything else because everything you produce flows outward.
Know that life is good and writing is joyful. If this feels like work, well it should, there’s no candy coating, but it shouldn’t seem like a chore. Remember, nothing worthwhile is easy. Any writer who makes a living is one who has worked long and hard for privilege.
Real life moves much slower than the stories or scripts we write. But if you can, do one thing to advance your career today. Maybe you just read this. Maybe you went on a field trip and had a great idea and stopped to write it down. Creation is the highest form of human expression. Take good care of it.
Every day: write, promote, network, learn and live well. Wipnill ©.
Side effects can include: productivity, career opportunities, dizziness, and wealth.