Jeanne Veillette Bowerman is the Editor of Script Magazine and a screenwriter, having written the narrative feature adaptation as well as the limited series of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Slavery by Another Name, which was honored in the Top 25 Tracking Board Launch Pad Features Competition. Follow Jeanne on Twitter @jeannevb.
How many scripts do you have on your hard drive? How many people do you think have read them? The more important question is, how many people have read them just for pleasure, not for consideration of buying them or just to give you feedback?
Probably not as many as you'd like.
Now ask yourself another question: Why am I a writer?
For me, the answer is always, "To make people feel."
Well, no one is feeling squat if my scripts are stuck on my laptop and not being read, which is precisely why I'm a big believer in turning our scripts into novels or just writing novels as well as screenplays. The more I talk with other screenwriters online, and watch us all beat our heads against the wall trying to get our scripts sold, the more convinced I am that we need some other way to validate ourselves and our work, or we'll go crazy!
Why limit ourselves? We're writers after all.
Before you scoff and click out of here, why not sit down and try. If a novel seems overwhelming, then write a short story, or a poem, or a blog post. Write something, anything, as long as it makes the reader feel something.
Then, share it and see the magic that happens when people start to retweet it, post it on Facebook, or write glowing reviews on Amazon about the way your story and characters pulled them in, keeping them turning the page. When I say "magic," I mean the magic within your soul knowing your words are not only being read but also are being enjoyed.
That is why we write. It's certainly why I write.
Being nervous to try a different medium is normal. Maybe you want to test the waters and use a pen name. A few of my friends started that way, and I'm doing it as well, not so much to test the waters but for branding reasons.
If I was sitting on Santa's lap right now, and he asked me what I wish for more than anything, it would be for people to enjoy my stories. Guess what? Christmas can be today and every day. You have the power to make that wish come true all on your own. It's called self publishing.
Lots of writers are publishing short stories, novels, trilogies and even anthologies. It's not rocket science. All it takes is a little research and bravery. A good place to start your research is with Self Publishing 101.
Why not break out of your boundaries and try something new? More and more of my screenwriter friends are jumping into the self-publishing arena, wondering why they hadn't liberated themselves sooner. Plus, Hollywood loves intellectual property (IP). Since the hard part of creating the story is already done, you can create your own IP and try breaking into the industry from a different angle.
Freedom. That's what I genuinely feel when I'm writing novels. Totally free. Free from the limitations of 110 pages. Free from needing millions of dollars and countless people championing me to get my scripts to screen. Plus the writer's high is incredible, mostly because I know I have the power to get my words published and enjoyed, all by myself. Just little old me.
Bring your stories to life for more than just producers and executives to read. I promise, taking control of your writing options will keep you sane in this insanely dysfunctional industry. Imagine the feeling of having a sense of control as a screenwriter. Wow. Thanks, Santa.
Get hundreds of dollars off with The Writer's Digest bundle,
Self Publishing 101