How This Writer Eventually Laughed off a Blacklist 2, Got Told He Was a “Bad Writer”, Never Made It past the Quarter Finals & Still Optioned a Goddamned Feature Script

CJ Walley
14 min readFeb 24, 2018

I’ve finally optioned a feature script. It’s taken six years to get to this point and it’s been tough, really tough. How does it feel? It feels amazing. It’s a whole new level of validation. It feels like the start of something rather than living in purgatory. But I don’t want to make this about myself. I know many of you are finding it tough too, so I wanted to put something together explaining how I think I got here and what really matters when it comes to screenwriting.

I want to do that because I feel it may help others who have become lost and stuck in a cycle of rewrites, reviews, and rejection.

This is a follow up to my recent The Perks Of Being An Artist blog, in which this story of writing and optioning this script, Blueberry Special, began.

This isn’t a definitive guide. It isn’t a guarantee. A lot of what I talk about may be circumstantial or insightful, and you can decide that for yourselves. Either way, this is the best I can do to send the elevator back down right now and inspire my fellow screenwriters to keep fighting the good fight.

I guess, in a way, this is a heartfelt letter to the writer I was a few years ago, the guy who got a 2 on the Black List, who couldn’t advance in competitions, who was told he couldn’t do it by his peers, and very nearly gave up, not just on writing but on life entirely.

Ignore the Haters, Cherish the Believers

Seek out the real believers. The people who genuinely get what you are doing and want to scream about it from the rooftops. They care about your work being better. They care about you being better. They care about you being happier. This is validation. Validation equals motivation.

Beware the fence sitters and pacifiers — they will tell you your work is “interesting” or that you are “experimenting”. They do not see it. They are just being polite. If you detect insincerity, trust your gut. Take their advice with a pinch of salt as they probably aren’t picking up on your voice. The middle ground of acceptance is not…

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CJ Walley

Screenwriter | Film Producer | Founder of Script Revolution & Rebelle Rouser | Author of Turn & Burn