One of the challenges for screenwriters and really many other active, ambitious creative people is trying to find time to do all the things they feel they need to do.
If you like to deliver high quality work — and I would hope you do! – then not only do you have to find time to do the thing you need or want to do, but you also have to find time to study it and learn the best way to do it.
The problem is, as an aspiring screenwriter who’s not yet making a consistent income from writing scripts, you probably have a day-job to tend to, and various relationships that you must also share your time with, so you have limited time to dedicate to your screenwriting.
Given these demands on your time, how do you do everything you to for your screenwriting?
The answer is the big trend these days… outsource. It may not be the perfect word for what we’re talking about for screenwriters, but I’m simply referring to getting assistance… help!
Here are seven of the major elements of screenwriter skills I’ve identified. Let’s look at which of these are critical for you to be able to do and which ones you can outsource or get assistance with.
1. Writing and studying the craft of screenwriting, knowing how to develop and integrate theme, character arc, and plot.
This is the number one element that you should spend about 80% of your most key prime-time hours doing. (Maybe even 99% at first!) The core of a screenwriting career is the writing itself. The other 20% is critical, too, but the writing itself is the fundamental core and what you should absolutely spend most of your time on and develop excellence in.
2. Typing your script in the Hollywood style format.
Your script must be formatted properly, and you should definitely know the basics of how to do this. The format itself creates the pacing of the script, so you should know how to do it at the most basic level.
However, this is not one you should spend an enormous amount of time on after you learn the basics, so you can readily outsource it. You can outsource the typing of it into proper script format and you can also outsource for a good proofreading to find any errors in formatting.
3. Pitching your story ideas and screenplay – both verbally and in written form.
This is another critical 10% of your screenwriting career. Ultimately, you have to learn to pitch your stories – both verbally and written – to have a screenwriting career. But developing your pitch is definitely something you can seek input on from an outside source.
The fact is that writing a pitch IS different than writing a script, no matter what anyone says. You have to succinctly pick out the most critical aspects of a story and tell it in an interesting way.
But you don’t have to sit down on your own and do it starting with a blank page. You can hire assistance from an outside source to help you with it. Once you get good at it, you can still work with an expert to help you hone it. But if you have limited time, then spend that time working on your screenplay itself and get assistance with this part of it.
4. Networking and staying in touch, building your Hollywood rolodex.
This is another critical aspect of your career. You must learn to make connections, make an impression, and make lasting relationships. You will need to do this yourself ultimately, however, you can outsource things like researching the people you should target.
You can have someone else research what events might be good for you to attend. You can outsource query letters and follow-up notes or postcards. You can have someone else update your database or create and update a simple contact system for you.
5. Knowledge and use of correct grammar in your script.
As with #2 above, you can easily outsource a good proofreading of your script to correct any errors in grammar. It is of course extremely valuable to be great with grammar, but some people simply aren’t. You need to get to the level of being proficient, but rather than spend more time being perfect, outsource to a proofreader.
6. Writing a query letter.
Writing a query letter is in the realm of marketing more than crafting a story. Aquery letter is more than the pitch; it also includes understanding how to present the commercial and marketable aspects of the script.
It is important for you to develop the ability to craft a pitch over time – but you can easily outsource this or at least get assistance to start with.
7. Identifying the best production companies, producers, agents, and managers to target for your script.
This time-consuming task is one of the most readily outsourced with less pay-off for doing it completely on your own.
You would probably want to attune your mind to what kind of companies might be interested in your script and develop basic knowledge of what gives a script commercial appeal. But the actual research of who they are can readily and easily be outsourced to someone else.
Those are your 7 major elements of screenwriter skills and how to outsource.
The first problem that you may have to deal with is your thought that you should be able to “do it all yourself.” This is a common and detrimental thought for self-starters because it can keep you caught in a rat race of never moving forward very much.
Once you realize that the only way you are going to be able to move ahead quickly is to outsource certain aspects of your work – get assistance – then you will be on track for much greater progress.