Writing is often an isolated profession. Hell, as I type this, I’m sitting in my pajamas, alone in my house, looking out the window and seeing nothing but landscape. No sign of life except for my cats and dog.
Peaceful? Yes. Lonely. You bet.
So what do you do when you live and work miles away from anyone who understands the insanity that is a writer’s life?
Why dive into social networking?
- It’s easy. All it takes is a laptop, some social media accounts and a personality. If you keep it real, you’ll attract connections. Think of it as an online cocktail party. It really is that simple. But be kind. I’ve written before about social media etiquette. Even though they can’t see your face, they can smell desperation and jerkitude, even through a computer screen.
- You never know who they know. Networking is all about meeting people who share common interests with you, but it’s also about meeting people who might be able to help you get to the next level. I’ve met thousands of writers online, and the more you meet, the higher your odds of success are. Everyone is always introducing people to other writers they know or even producers who might be a good fit for their projects. I’ve attached producers through Twitter, introduced writer friends to managers, and even found my current writing partner, who has worked in the industry for decades. You never know who’s out there, and there are no physical limitations. Global projects are birthed every day.
- There’s always something to learn. I don’t care who you are or how long you’ve been writing; there is ALWAYS something to learn. I try to learn one new thing a day by looking at what my friends are posting online. I guarantee you there’s an article out there you haven’t read. I view online articles much like I view cookbooks. If I buy a cookbook and get one recipe out of it, I feel that’s a win. Same thing goes for online content. I can read 10 articles, but if I get one nugget of learning, then it was time well spent.
- Exchange scripts with fellow writers. Feedback can be expensive, but when you find a network of writers who also need honest feedback, the script swap works great! It’s a win/win. BUT I would highly recommend taking your time before you start swapping scripts. You want to be sure the person who is giving you notes is at least as good as, if not better, than you at writing.
- Find writing partners. Tons of great screenplays were born from writing partnerships. If you have never tried writing with someone, give it a shot. But much like finding writers to exchange scripts with, make sure the person you “marry” is a great writer, can take feedback, and is open to suggestions. NO EGO ALLOWED. The project has to ALWAYS come first. Yes, that was me yelling. Justifiably so. Unfortunately, I have experience in writer divorce court that, if we had handled things differently, might have not destroyed our friendship. But that's not going to happen to you, because you're going to learn from my mistakes. A great way to learn what a potential partner's personality is like is by following them on social media and watching how they interact with people. Do they only talk about themselves? Do they pay it forward to people? Are they knowledgeable about the business side of the industry? Do they love rewriting? And above all, get a contract. You have to have a collaboration agreement before you ever work with someone. You’re creating a baby together, and getting a divorce from that partner can be nasty.
BONUS: It’s fun. Pure and simple. Who wouldn’t love talking about writing all day? I don’t know about you, but my family rolls their eyes at me at least a dozen times a day. You won’t find that online. Writing and talking about writing is our drug.
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- More articles by Jeanne Veillette Bowerman
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- Jeanne's Screenwriting Tips: Social Media Etiquette
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Breaking in Outside of Hollywood