Everyone's a writer, you know?
Everyone has a story to tell. I can't even tell you how many times someone has said, upon finding out that I am a writer...
"Oh my God, have I got a story for you! Everyone, and I mean everyone I know, tells me how my life should be made into a movie."
Then they proceed to go into some long-winded explanation about their said life which, in the beginning, I would stand and politely listen to.
Times have changed, however, and I'm getting pretty good at cutting them off mid-sentence by tossing them a pleasant smile along with, "Ever thought about writing it yourself?"
Some people are intelligent, get the message and change the subject, but most answer with a "Yeah, I have. Got any advice?"
To which I usually reply with a laugh, "Advice? Are you kidding? I'm still learning."
But you know what? Today, I actually do have some advice.
And this advice isn't really meant for the types of people I mentioned above, this advice is meant for any aspiring "real" writers out there who happen to read this blog.
The single most important piece of advice I can give you is this...
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE HEART OF A WRITER.
When this business gets you down, (and it will), when this business strips your self-esteem (and it will), when this business makes you question your very sanity (and I GUARANTEE it will), the only thing that will stop you from quitting, is your heart.
When your friends and family tell you you're crazy for giving up your whole life to pursue your career (and they will), when you leave your significant other because they gave you an ultimatum, "Writing or me" (don't know if you will, but I did), when you find that you can't even go out on a date because you need to stay home and work (again, I GUARANTEE it will), the only thing that will stop you from quitting, is your heart.
When you're broke (and you will be), because you take every meager cent you make writing and sink it back into your budding career (and you will), when you have to stay home on Saturday night to put together a 50 page funding proposal (and eventually you will) while everyone else you know is out on the town celebrating a birthday, the only thing that will keep you from quitting, is your heart.
It's also your heart that is going to keep you from killing the "do-gooders" that just love to spew their unwelcome advice when they find out what kind of life you lead.
I swear to God, every person that looks at me with smug satisfaction while saying in a condescending tone, "Well, if you would get a real job... ", I want to kill them.
I would take great pleasure in staring directly into their bulging eyes while I choke the shit out of them, making sure that mine are the last words they hear...
"Oh, you mean a real job, like yours? The one that pays you barely enough to survive and the one that you hate so much, you BITCH about it every single day of your life? The job that fills you with such negativity, you allow it to infect those around you? Is that the type of real job you mean?"
See why you need to have the heart for it?
Not only are you going to find yourself smashing your head against a mile-thick cement wall trying to break in, you're also going to have to deal with the people around you who truly don't understand why you do it.
But you know what? I don't begrudge any of it because I know, in my heart, that every sacrifice I make now while I'm still learning my craft, will contribute to my eventual success as a screenwriter, in the end.
In this business, you pay your dues with BLOOD, SWEAT, and TEARS. And you will pay your dues for what seems like forever, before you can even take one tiny step forward.
If your heart is not in it, then you will not succeed.
You will quit. But unfortunately, it won't be before this business shreds every ounce of self-confidence you possess and strips your soul bare.
In this last year and a half, some of the challenges I've faced have brought me down, more than once. I've fought to pull myself back up only to face something even worse, that kicked me back down again.
I've shed many tears, I've felt sorry for myself, I've raged at the universe, and I've even contemplated quitting...
But never for long.
See, I can't quit.
My heart won't let me.
So to all you aspiring writers out there, this is the only advice I am comfortable giving you because it's something I learned through experience...
Make sure you have the heart of a writer before deciding to embark on this journey because it ain't easy.
It definitely ain't easy.
And as crazy as this makes me sound, I actually do love it.