Success in Screenwriting Through Results Goals (Part 1 of 2)

1Lots of Screenwriters say they’ve done everything they know to do and are still not achieving the goals they want, still not getting their script read.

This two-part article series is meant to help you set your goals and then break them down so you have actions to take on a daily basis.  Whether it’s getting a script agent or literary management or simply to sell screenplays as such, then it is important for you to set your goals and make a plan for how you will achieve them.  How do you do this?

First, there are two types of goals:

1.  Results Goals:  These are the final results you want to produce, such as getting your screenplay requested to be read, selling your screenplay, getting a script agent or finding a literary manager.  These results require others to make decisions.

2.  Action Goals:  These are the actions you take to produce the results you want, ones which you have control over and can do on your own.

In your plan, you need to have both types of goals.  Taking the right actions moves you toward the results.  You can’t directly make someone request your script or buy it, but if you take enough actions, you are increasing your opportunities for getting that literary agent or manager or selling your screenplay – whatever your Results Goal is.

The right actions to take are what I call “Primary Causes”  in producing results.  Although you don’t have direct control over getting the literary agent or manager, for example, you DO have control over many actions you can take to try to make that happen.

To up the number of Hollywood VIPS reading your screenplay, you need to up your actions that are the primary causes of getting them to read it.   That is, you need to tell more Producers, Literary Agents, Literary Managers, and Development Execs about yours screenplay through pitching, query letters, email queries, networking, and so forth.

In Part 1 of this article, we are looking at setting goals for your results and actions.  In part 2, we will look at what those actions might be.  Here are the steps:

1.  Create your vision for your Longer-Term Results that are approximately 3 – 5 years out.

What do you want to achieve in the next 3 to 5 years?  (If this seems too long, just plan for 12 to 18 months.)  If you really want to achieve it, you need to make a plan for how it might come about.

Yes, you could get lucky and have a windfall and sometimes things happen out of the blue.  But to make sure that things move forward, you should begin to plan out what you want and how you plan to get there.

2.  Break it down into intermediate milestone Results and Actions, that are around 6-9 months apart.

Once you identify your long-term goal, then break it down into the intermediate milestones that will take place before you get there.

For example, let’s say you want to get a literary agent or manager by the end of the year.  What are the likely things that need to happen before that?  Or you might put on your list to do some online research to learn how to sell your screenplay.

Prior to that, you will need to make sure you polish your script.  You will also need to have it reviewed by a professional to make sure that it is ready to send out to the literary agents of your choice.

You will also need to have a plan in place for how you are going to get the literary manager or agent.  Will you attend the Great American Pitchfest or an Inktip Pitching Event?  Will you send out a Query Letter Mailing?

Work backwards from your goal to the present day, writing down your major milestones along the way and when you need to achieve the milestone.

3. Set your Monthly Action and Results Goals.

Once you have worked your milestones back to the present, then fill in what you need to achieve for each month during that time.  Some actions might be to get a new screenwriting program or do your final research.  You might need to save money to execute your marketing phase.

For each month, write in all the actions that you need to do that you think will help assure you reach your goal.

4.  Set your Weekly Actions.

After working backward, look to see what you need to do to save that money.  Will you give up Starbuck’s for the month?  Will you save $2.00 a day for it?  Or if it’s doing a re-write, will you review the late Blake Snyder’s “Save the Cat” structure or use Linda Seger’s book “Making A Good Script Great” the first week and implement these things in the following weeks?

Break down your monthly goal into a week-by-week plan.

5.  Set daily actionable goals.

Finally, write down exactly what you will do each day to achieve the current week’s goals.  That will give you a road map for achieving that month’s goals, which in turn affect everything forward from there.

As you go through these steps and take the actions, be positive.  Seize opportunities that are presented to you.

Many Screenwriters think about their long-term goals and the fantasy of what it would be like to get the $250,000 or $1,000,000 payday for selling a screenplay or seeing a big star like George Clooney or Julia Roberts in their movie.  This is fine, but these goals are hard to use to get motivated on a day-by-day basis because they are longer term goals.

When you break these big goals down into milestones, you see actions you can literally take on a daily basis.  Goals that are within your reach are far more inspiring and rewarding in the short term.

Create your plan as described above as Part 1 in this exercise.  Part 2 will cover some of the specific actions you can take to produce the results you want.