Ten Ways You’re Killing Your Screenwriting Career Before It’s Even Started

CJ Walley
15 min readOct 8, 2018

Where I find myself right now is straddling both sides of that wall we all face with the amateur scene on one side and the industry world on the other. From this perspective, I have a great vantage point to see what is and isn’t working for screenwriters who want their passion to eventually bring in paycheques.

So, after nearly seven years, countless scripts, and endless chit-chat with everyone from first-time writers to long-time producers, here goes.

“woman lying on bed while eating puff corn” by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

1) You’re Giving up Too Easily.

You’ve written one or two features, maybe some shorts. You’ve been trying for maybe a year and you want to give up. Perhaps you’ve entered some competitions and not advanced, suffered poor Black List/WeScreenPlay scores, not seen any responses to query letters, or someone simply told you you suck. Maybe you feel like you live in the wrong place to ever succeed.

Why it’s killing your chances: The film business is a marathon, a life-long-one, and even a decade, especially when trying to break-in, is a relatively short amount of time. Rejection is part of the routine and often comes after an initial period of apathy. Motivation constantly needs to be nurtured. If screenwriting‘s your purpose then giving up isn’t really an option and talking about it demoralising to those around you. Worse still, talking about giving up after a relative short amount of time can appear lazy. Nobody wants to invest in someone who may flake out at any moment and disappear tomorrow.

A better approach: Know that life is long and that you are your own champion. Only you can give up on yourself. Realise that, if you are truly passionate about this, walking away isn’t an option. Take comfort in the fact opinions are not truths. Reframe expectations to more workable goals and know that you are ultimately responsible for your actions and reactions. Work at nurturing yourself to the point you motivate others and assure industry members that you’re sticking around. People will invest more into you, hoping to either partner up or cross paths and catch up with you in the future.

Anecdotal: While I’ve know countless writers who’ve given up on what they said was their dream within a year, I once watched a

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CJ Walley

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