How Can You Write For Fun And Profit About Writing Just Get Started Screenwriting Your Way To Hollywood
Every writer dreams of the day when they can profit from their writing. While income opportunities abound for writers each method has drawbacks.
Newspaper and magazine reporters can make a good living but their subject matter is often closely regulated and directed.Corporate writing can be even more lucrative but even more tightly controlled. Freelance writing offers more freedom but is also more uncertain. Publishing books is even more uncertain. So what is a writer to do?
Forget all those old-school writing methods and focus on the internet. Don’t write for anyone but yourself. You really can profit from writing only about what interests you. Don’t worry about the market or the editors. Write for yourself. Not only will it be more fun and rewarding for your soul but for your checking account as well.
I am going to share an easy (and cheap) 5-step formula that can help you start your own writing business today, but first I want to share one important fact.
This is not a get-rich quick scheme. It will take some time to earn, perhaps as long as three months to begin turning a profit, but if you keep working at it you should see your income grow exponentially each month and you should be able to count on that income and know what you have to do to increase it. You will have total control over your income and that is very powerful.
1. Create a blog account at one of the free blogging sites available online (we used to use Blogger.com but there are many other good options). This will serve as your internet base. It really is the cheapest and easiest way to get online today. Yes, you could create a free web site at one of the many available but blogs are more attractive to the search engines. Plus they offer you the ability to personalize it but most of your energy will be spent on content which is the king of the internet and the real reason you want an internet presence.
2. Now sign up for a free ClickBank affiliate acccount which will give you immediate access to something to sell.
3. Sign up for a contextual or pay-per-click advertiser such as Google, Yahoo, Revenue Pilot, or SearchFeed and you’ll start earning from visitors as well as customers.
4. Develop your blog. Make 10 your immediate goal then work your way up to 25, 50 and 100 and so on. Your entries can be your opinions, thoughts, or ramblings; poems or short stories; or articles.
5. Promote your blog through article marketing, link development and submitting your blog feed. I would suggest your primarily focus on article marketing as if offers the ability to not only develop links but also delivers traffic plus as a writer it is easy for you to create articles or use a selection of the material you’ve already created for your blog.
Yes, it really is that simple and while you can later grow by buying your own domain name (or names) and publishing your blog on your own site you do not need (and likely should avoid) investing money in expensive tools
Getting started on the web can be free (as you see above) or inexpensive if you concentrate on what you really need. The simple truth is that you don’t need a lot of fancy, expensive tools and programs. In the long run a domain name is a good investment. A domain name will cost you between $5 and $10 a year depending on whether you go .com or .info (or one of the many other options available). You don’t need to find a web host or create a site. Simply point the domain at your blog for now and continue with the development and promotion of your blog. The advantage of owning your own domain name is simply that later when you have the money, time, and knowledge to develop your web site that domain name will already exist and have filtered through the search engines. It also offers some marketing advantages that a free blog cannot.
At some point you may decide you want more flexibility and control than a free blog can offer and that is when you will want to run your own site. You can find a good web host for as little as $5 a month and shouldn’t pay more than $20 a month for a reputable host that offers all the tools and utilities you might need for your current site–including blog software. Maybe down the line you’ll need to upgrade but by then you’ll know your income and your needs.
Really the only other regular expense that you might consider to make your internet business complete would be a mailing list tool. You can do this for just $20 a month and it will be worth every penny for sales, customer service, and promotion. But this is not necessary to start out and you may decide that it isn’t important to your efforts so you can skip it entirely.
Once you have your blog set up and monetized (by offering ClickBank products, advertising, and/or selling text links) then you are in a position to begin profiting from your writing. The way to profit it to increase your traffic so you need to get serious about your article marketing efforts because each article you distribute will generate immediate traffic and create back links for search engine optimization. Also you need to continue to grow your blog by adding fresh content regularly. This will create repeat visitors as well as bring the search engines back again and again. Simply publishing new articles and new blog entries each week will increase your traffic. The more articles and entries you create — the more traffic you will generate.
Once you have found your rhythm with your existing blog you may well decide to branch out and create a second blog on a different or related topic. Now you should be able to work even faster because you are more experienced but likely more motivated as well because you can see just how rewarding it can be to write for fun and profit.
I rarely suffer from what writer’s complain about the most and that is: writer’s block. Oh, sure, if I must write on a subject that I am not familiar with, then a certain amount of trepidation and the occasional blankness will set in. Still, if I accept a project I do so believing that I know enough about the topic to produce a compelling piece. Writing isn’t difficult for most accomplished writers, but you must get started. Here are some things that help get me going:
If I am stuck, I write some sort of outline. Okay, maybe not a formal outline but something containing a topic sentence; 2, 3, or 4 main points; followed by a conclusion. As you can read there are three parts to any article: an introduction, the body, and a conclusion. Sometimes certain parts of the article I have more to write about than others. For example, I may have my main points for the body, but I don’t have the introductory part down just yet. No matter, I keep working on my outline until I get something solid.
Once I have all three pieces together, I start to write. Okay, I start to “type” as almost all of my writings are created from scratch via Microsoft Word. There was a time when I had to write on legal sized lined paper and then move it over to a word processor. No more. Today, I rarely “write” anything as I have gotten so accustomed to my laptop computer. Thanks, Dell!
When I am done writing, I check my work to see if it makes sense. Sometimes nothing I write is all that sensible, so I delete what I write and start over again. This is a rare occurrence, but it does happen.
After I come up with a reasonable draft, I scour it to check for misspellings, grammar usage, prose, etc. Many times I have the “bones” of the article, but it lacks “meat” or substance. In these particular cases I “flesh out” the article which usually involves refining sentence structure, clarifying a thought, swapping out words, or inserting or deleting entire sentences or paragraphs.
If I feel reasonably certain about what I wrote, I will do a final run through it to make sure it sits well with me. Occasionally, I put an article to the side and go do something else or I “sleep on it” and take a fresh look at the article the next day.
So, if you are having difficulty writing, simply get started. At least if you start your writing assignment you will have less to do later and you will no longer feel as if your undone article is some sort of albatross around your neck.
Throughout filmmaking history screenwriters have used many methods to achieve success in Hollywood. Nora Ephron (When Harry Met Sally, 1989) easily gained access to Hollywood as the daughter of stage and screenwriting team Henry and Phoebe Ephron. Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, 1999) juggled many jobs and wrote for the T.V. series, “Get a Life,” before catching the attention of producer Steve Golin. Alan Ball (American Beauty 1999) chose a different path; he first worked as a theater producer and writer. Producers Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner invited him to Hollywood because they both saw the debut of Ball’s hit play, “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress” at the Manhattan Class Company Theater.
While Hollywood screenwriters have their own success stories, they also share strong work ethics and know how to foster vital business connections. This article examines how current Hollywood screenwriters Dan Bucatinsky and Tim McCanlies learned from their predecessors’ habits and how they jumpstarted their writing careers.
Dan Bucatinsky is a talented and disciplined writer who broke into the Hollywood scene in 2001 with his romantic comedy, “All Over the Guy.” A 1987 graduate of Vassar College, Dan took advantage of his education and worked diligently to learn his craft and develop a unique style. His time spent writing countless papers, stories, and scripts in college attributed to his screenwriting excellence. When he returned to Vassar in 2004 to advise aspiring screenwriters Dan emphasized the importance of writing everyday.
“Even when I draw a blank, even when I don’t feel like working, even when nothing I put down on paper is any good…I force myself to write for at least a couple of hours everyday,” Dan revealed.
This discipline is a trademark of successful Hollywood screenwriters. According to Dan, a writer’s willingness to push himself can prove more significant than raw talent. There are many naturally gifted writers; what distinguishes a great writer from a good one is the technique they have gained through careful study and years of dedication.
Several helpful books exist for writers seeking guidance as they try to develop their skills, including, “Crafty Screenwriting” by Alex Epstein, “Adventures in the Screen Trade” by William Goldman, and “Secrets of Film Writing” by Tom Lazarus. Dan Bucatinsky and countless other screenwriters rely on these resources to craft innovative, creative screenplays. These resources can be bought at any bookstore or online at www.StoryScribe.com (https://www.coolwebtips.com Dan Bucatinsky, Tim McCanlies (Iron Giant, Secondhand Lions, Dancer, Texas Pop. 81) gained attention for his artful writing. He nurtured his natural writing talent by practicing and revising scripts when he wasn’t working at odd jobs to support himself.
In 1979 he published his first novel, “Harlem,” and enrolled in the Sherwood Oaks Experimental College to further study writing techniques. While in school Tim simultaneously excelled in his classes and completed a screenplay based on his novel. His hard work paid off: college founder Gary Shusett noted Tim’s diligence, read the screenplay for Harlem, and helped to get the script optioned by Interscope.
In a recent interview Tim revealed that he still writes everyday and added that “the key to good writing is to focus on developing strong, interesting characters.” He stressed the importance of building up a writing resume, encouraging aspiring writers to embrace all learning opportunities including internships and jobs as assistant writers.
One of Tim’s early jobs was as an assistant writer for the 1987 film North Shore. An array of writing jobs and internships can be found online through websites like www.mandy.com, www.backstage.com, www.hollywoodlitsales.com, www.FreelanceWriting.com, and www.CyberScreenwriter.com.
Tim urges beginning writers not to lose hope, saying that it took him more than six months to write and revise the screenplay for “Iron Giant” even with his strong educational background and years of professional writing experience.
As gifted, hard working writers, both Dan Bucatinsky and Tim McCanlies recognize the significance of contacts in Hollywood. Hollywood studios receive thousands of scripts each month. Of these thousands only a few hundred may make it from the mail room, past the intern’s desk, and into the executive’s office. In the rush to read and pass scripts through the hierarchy, Hollywood studios push many screenplays to the back burner or, worse yet, immediately discard screenplays without review. Some amazing screenplays end in the trashcan while many mediocre scripts are approved for production.
Why does this happen?
Because when a script arrives with a cover letter of recommendation from an executive’s old professor, friend, co-worker, etc… it goes straight to the top of the studio’s “Read Me Now” list regardless of quality. This is the reality of the Hollywood system, however unfair it may seem to newcomers.
The smart screenwriter will accept this reality and make the most of his/her connections to ensure that their script lands in the “Read Me Now” list. Although mixers through organizations like the American Screenwriters Association and the Writers Guild of America are good places to make contacts, the schmoozing element of the business often requires some luck as well as hard work.
For example, Dan Bucatinsky was close friends with a woman named Lisa Kudrow when he was studying to become a writer at Vassar College. When Lisa became famous for her role in the popular television sitcom, “Friends,” she helped Dan achieve his Hollywood dream. She ensured the production of “All Over the Guy” by signing onto the film as an actress and recommended Dan as a writer to many Hollywood producers and directors. Dan and Lisa continue to collaborate on film projects, and he writes parts for her into his screenplays. When Dan speaks to students, he stresses making valuable friendships in college and urges students to view writing as a business as well as an art.
Tim McCanlies also credits much of his success to luck and connections. Without the support of Gary Shusett, an associate producer on the 1988 film “Moon Over Parador,” it is unlikely that Interscope would have read Tim’s unsolicited screenplay “Harlem,” let alone optioned it. Once Gary Shusett helped him get his foot in the door, Tim had the opportunity to make films with rising Hollywood stars like Brad Bird (Iron Giant 1999, The Incredibles 2004) who appreciated his work ethic and creativity. Tim’s career as a Hollywood screenwriter thrives today because of the connections he made and fostered as a young writer.
The key to breaking into Hollywood as a screenwriter is twofold: a willingness to write, study, and practice with consistency; and a talent to develop relationships with people in positions of power. There is not one right way to be a screenwriter, but these elements are significant to achieve success in Hollywood..
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