Jeanne's Tuesday Screenwriting Tips: Social Media Etiquette

Editor and screenwriter Jeanne Veillette Bowerman gives advice on social media etiquette for screenwriters. Immediate communication isn't always a good thing.
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I'm a Twitter junkie. It's how I navigate Hollywood from my New York country home. When used correctly, it rocks. I've made friends, connected with managers and agents, met my screenwriting mentors, got writing and speaking gigs, and even found the perfect writing partner. But there's a downside to being so visible and immediate in our communication.

It's called the Twitter rant.

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You've all seen it. That person who instantly vents frustrations, sometimes drunk, sometimes sober, but always without a filter. As tempting as it may be to spew a seemingly harmless rant, you might want to think twice before hitting Enter.

You never know who's watching.

The other day, I witnessed a writer tweet their frustrations when understandably disappointed about not placing in a popular screenwriting contest. I get that. No biggie. I've done it myself when I didn't make the cut for Sundance Screenwriters Lab. But it was their subsequent tweets of bashing said contest that left a bad taste in my mouth. If the contest was that bad, why would they have entered it in the first place? There had to be value in it. If they had won it, I highly doubt they'd be bashing it. They'd prominently post it in their bio and tweet it out with glee, as they should. Honestly, it just smacked of a sore loser and made them look like a 5 year old whose classmate got to their favorite swing first.

Fact: A screenwriting career is full of rejection. Don't take it personally.

What if... I was a producer who just read your script, liked it, and decided to check you out on social media to see if you're the kind of writer I want to spend the next two years working with. As I click on your Twitter profile, a flutter of tweets reveal an angry rant, lambasting a person or company who didn't like your script.

Guess what I'm going to do? Put your script in the Pass pile. I wouldn't want to take the risk of working with someone who wasn't mature enough to recognize rejection happens. I'd be thinking about the day I gave them notes they didn't agree with and imagining them bashing me and my company online.

No thank you. There are plenty of other writers out there. Why take on a waving red flag?

Let me offer some advice I give my teens on how to manage their social media presence: Don't post anything you wouldn't feel comfortable being on the front page of the newspaper... and your grandfather reading it. OK, maybe their generation doesn't read newspapers, but they get the point.

But we're human. We make mistakes. Thankfully, there's a delete button for tweets. Let's hope people use it wisely. Hey, I've deleted a tweet or two in my day. No shame in that.

You spend years working on your screenplays and building a network. Don't let it crash and burn because you need an outlet to vent and temporarily forgot social media etiquette. Get a therapist. Call your best friend. And if you absolutely need to do it online, consider Facebook. At least someone who isn't connected to you as a "friend" can't see it. Be smart about sharing your emotions.

I know rejection hurts, but limiting your options hurts more.

We've all heard the quote, "Rome wasn't built in a day." But the full, accurate quote is, "Rome wasn't built in a day, but when it fell, it burned in one."

#PIMPtipoftheday: Check yourself before you wreck yourself.

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