Usually, I write a grand preamble to these articles, but today, I felt like I should jump right in. Recently, I've been struggling with how to continue to get better as a writer. And it's starting to freak me out.
I've shared personal stories before, and now I'm back again.
I broke into Hollywood in 2013, with a script on the Black List called Shovel Buddies. That script took me everywhere, and eventually became a movie you can rent on iTunes. But, most importantly, it introduced me to Hollywood and to friends and mentors I would work with over the years.
In the last decade, I learned a ton from my mentors and the assignments that came to me. They each provided the opportunity to network, price my worth, and learn how to be a writer in Hollywood. It wasn't just about the words on the page. It was about how to handle certain situations, personalities, and sometimes how to fail gracefully.
Through it all, I felt optimistic about what came next.
Yet lately, it feels like I've hit a plateau. I'm not learning, and that is terrifying to me.
'Blade Runner 2049'Credit: 20th Century Fox
I've Been Struggling with How to Continue to Get Better as a Writer
This is not a result of my learning it all! I wish it were.
The projects I had going, the ones that would have boosted me to the next level, got derailed by a worldwide pandemic. Right before COVID, I felt like I was about to make the leap to new assignments and mentors—and so many valuable lessons! When the pandemic stalled those projects, my career stalled too. And despite going into 2020 with a career on the rise, it felt like it hit a wall, and then a plateau. As Hollywood merges and contracts, opportunities for writers to advance have gotten few and far between.
Since then, I feel like I'm the mouse in the bucket of milk, swimming to survive. It's increasingly hard to take a step forward since much of my time is spent treading water.
'Jaws'Credit: Universal Pictures
What About New Reps?
After an amicable split with my old rep, I thought talking with new reps who might be able to help me advance was the key. As I look for new reps, I try to slip in the question of how they can help get me to a place where I learn more without making it feel like I'm a project that won't get them any money. It's a tightrope! Most people just want to get paid and not worry about developing someone.
So that's a new challenge, but the only thing I am learning is that you need someone who loves and believes in you and wants to do the hard work. And those people can be rare. And it might take a while for them to read you and like you.
That's humbling. Patience has never been my virtue.
And now, I'm cruising on this plateau, moving forward and unsure how I can rise.
I'm here now trying to figure out what a person should do when facing all this.
My conclusion? I don't know. Truly, I think most people hit this at some point in their career. And my desire to blame COVID or hope that new reps will fix it probably does not matter in the long run. This is a marathon, not a sprint. And I'm in the plains, no hills in sight.
But I hate when I ask people, and they don't have answers, so I came up with one I hope you take to heart.
If you, like me, find yourself on that plateau, wandering? Do not freak out. And try to keep your fear in check.
It's time to go back to what got you to this place—your love of writing.
For me, the only thing I can do is keep writing original, voice-y ideas I deeply care about, because at least that feels like I'm churning butter, and not like I'm drowning.
Let me know what you think in the comments.