As many of you know, I am a writer, with a view toward a career in screenwriting. Now, there are dozens of writers out there who have written innumerable books on the craft of screenwriting: formatting, structure, those sorts of things. But where are the books that actually guide a budding scribe toward a realistically sustainable career?
Sadly, I hadn’t found one before I came across Mark Sanderson‘s A Screenwriter’s Journey to Success: Tips, Tricks and Tactics to Survive as a Working Screenwriter in Hollywood. And, kids, it’s exactly what it says on the tin.
A little background: I’ve been following Mark on Twitter for some time now, and I find his posts to be educational and motivational. He’s a working screenwriter with about a dozen produced films to his credit. If I was gonna take career advice from anyone, it was gonna be someone who’s actually doing it — and Mark is that guy.
So I downloaded the Kindle version of A Screenwriter’s Journey to Success (I hate e-books, so I will be ordering a physical copy in the near future) and dove right in. Mark lays it all out in easy-to-understand terms: The life of a working screenwriter is one that is filled with hills and valleys, highs and lows, and we must be prepared for whatever comes our way.
Written in a manner reminiscent of Stephen King‘s On Writing, A Screenwriter’s Journey to Success is a hybrid of memoir and career guidebook, offering tips and advice on such areas as taking meetings, dealing with executives’ notes, enduring development hell, losing your first (paid) writing gig, collaboration as a means of breaking in, and always — always — presenting yourself in a professional manner.
Further, Mark offers a glimpse into what it’s truly like to be a working screenwriter. Although we may all have dreams of A-list status and million-dollar spec sales, that will likely not be the reality, and his advice for dealing with this is invaluable.
That, my friends, is why I’m heavily praising this book. It offers a grounded, yet still very optimistic, point of view for those seriously pursuing the vocation of screenwriting.
“The good news is that you can write anytime and anywhere until your last breath,” writes Mark. “That’s my ultimate plan.”
That’s my ultimate plan as well, and thanks to A Screenwriter’s Journey to Success, I feel all that much more prepared.