Screenwriting is one of those things that can drive you crazy. It's not an easy profession to break into. And once you're in, it's still really hard. Almost every project you go out with will be met with rejection, and the ones that do go, you have to work around the clock to protect why you wrote them in the first place.

But if you're like me, you can't imagine doing anything else.

When things get bad, and if they haven't yet, they will, what do you do for inspiration? How do you wade through the muck?

For me, I go back to the single best piece of writing advice I've ever heard.

Today, I'm going to give that piece of advice to you too, and we'll go through it together.

Let's dive in.

"Write For Yourself First. Then Write For Them"

When it comes to screenwriting,

Part One: Writing For Yourself

Hilary Swank as Erin Gruwell teaching in a clasroom in 'Freedom Writers

'Freedom Writers'

Credit: Paramount Pictures

When we begin to write, the first audience is ourselves. Writing for yourself is an act of introspection and honesty. It's about tapping into your inner world — your experiences, dreams, fears, and passions. This stage is not just about self-expression; it's about discovery and authenticity. When you write for yourself:

  • You Unleash Creativity: Free from external judgments, your imagination takes flight. This is where original ideas blossom.
  • You Find Your Voice: Your unique style and perspective come to the forefront, creating a distinctive tone that can set your work apart.
  • You Stay Motivated: Writing about what genuinely interests you keeps the spark alive, making the process enjoyable and sustainable.

Part Two: Writing For Them

Two men in an office in 'Barton Fink'

'Barton Fink'

Credit: 20th Century Studios

After pouring your heart onto the page, the next phase is to sculpt this raw expression for your audience. Writing for them is not about losing your essence but about sharing your vision in a way that resonates with others. It involves:

  • Understanding Your Audience: Who are they? What do they seek in a story? Tailoring your work to meet your audience's expectations can make it more impactful.
  • Clarifying Your Message: Ensuring that your ideas are conveyed clearly and compellingly is key to keeping your readers engaged.
  • Balancing Art with Appeal: While maintaining your unique voice, consider genre conventions, market trends, and readability to make your work accessible and appealing.

The Best Writing Advice In Action

Alexis Bledel as Rory Gilmore reading a book in 'Gilmore Girls'

'Gilmore Girls'

Credit: The CW

The beauty of this approach lies in its balance. Writing for yourself ignites the flame of creativity, while writing for your audience ensures that the flame is seen and appreciated. This dual focus helps in crafting stories that are not only deeply personal but also widely relatable.

It also leans into the collaborative nature of Hollywood. You can write a great spec script, but if you listen to this advice, you might just see it become a TV show or a movie.

Now, for the life of me, I have no idea where I picked up this advice, but over the last decision, it's been my guiding light. As long as I stay invested in what's on the page and care about the stories I'm telling, I know I'll have something I'm proud of at the end.

I also know that if I finish something that I fully believe in, the right person will read it and connect with it as well.

From that point on, you're working with someone who is invested in getting that script made, and you're writing for production.

No matter what, it all starts with you and your passion.

If you don't have or feel like it's gone, maybe it is time to try something else.

But that's a topic for another day.

Now, get back to writing.