The internet might be the Final Frontier for writers, but that doesn’t mean we’re not doing what we always do – which is gossip, start rumours, create problems and generally shoot ourselves in the foot. But hey, we’re only human and we all do it occasionally and anyone who says they doesn’t is an effing liar and I hate you all. No, wait. I love you! COME BAAAAAACK I’M SORRY …
… Oh there you are! So here’s my top 5 ways of isolating your peers and making Pros think you’re nuts:
5. Antisocial Media: flame wars & dog piles
It’s no accident some places on the web are a no-go for Pros; they already figured out a long time ago that life is waaaaaay too short to worry about getting your head shot off if you peek it above the parapet, so they simply don’t bother. So look around: are there *only* newbies in the places you frequent online? That should tell you something. As for Twitter, Facebook, Quora, blogs, et al … This is SOCIAL media: emphasis on the social, right? You got that??? Hurling insults and taking the Mick is ANTI-SOCIAL media. You need the next door on the left. And never come back. KTHXBYE!
4. For Sale: My Artistic Integrity
We all want to sell a script. Well, durr. That’s the aim for most of us. But *how* you do it is key. Sounding like you know what you’re talking about online and responding to script calls and building relationships with agents, managers, producers and filmmakers? Brilliant! Top marks, you get a gold star. Whacking up some PDFs on your site with a price tag and/or high-jacking every discussion thread you can – and yes, people really do do this! – just smacks of desperation: “HIRE ME! I’M GOOD! OH PLEASE OH PLEASE!”
So, be professional at all times. Have a strategy for both online and offline. Don’t imagine the internet is one huge marketplace and all you need is a megaphone like that bloke on the high street selling bananas. Your script is not a banana. OK I’m taking this analogy too far: YOU GET IT.
3. Trolls under the bridge: Do Not Feed
I’ve lost count of the number of writers I’ve seen get into prolonged Twitter spats with others that have grown into HUGE BIG DEALS that have lasted hours and even days. I’ve even known people try and solicit my support in “sorting out” these people, both online and in real life! DUDES IT’S JUST THE INTERWEBZ. Except when it isn’t and some evil sod gets PERSONAL and in which case, rather than dust off those boxing gloves, block the offender. Pronto. You’re not “afraid of discussion”, you’re just not feeding the trolls. There is a difference.
And don’t think I don’t get it that people trolling you hurts. It happens to everyone, but never let a troll launch a prolonged attack and undo all your good work. It simply is not worth it. Take their power away and block them. And don’t feel bad. If these people actually wanted to converse with you, they wouldn’t be confrontational with you. They would simply act like y’know, like a NORMAL person, ie. ask you to clarify a viewpoint before launching into an attack on why you’re WORSE THAN HITLER (le yawn).
2. The Tweet Police Dismisseth Us: Unsolicited Advice
I love Twitter and adore being able to share tips and experiences on things involved in life as well as writing; it is the writers’ water cooler and I have found many great friends and associates on there. But like real life, there is A LINE. Crossing said LINE can only lead to misunderstandings at best and white hot resentment at worst, with the ones on the receiving end of your supposed “advice” plotting your demise with pins and voodoo dolls made of twine.
So, next time you’re poised to press “send” to someone containing some supposed GOLD NUGGET of advice, be it writing-related or something to do with “real life”, think on: did the person ACTUALLY ASK for it? Because if they didn’t, chances are, they won’t thank you. At all. Similarly, don’t make assumptions on why they “need” your help as chances are, you’ll just stick your foot in a colossal dump of “I didn’t know the full story”. If you want to help? ASK what the problem is/what you can do instead!
1. Boo Hoo, you suck, I suck, WE ALL SUCK, etc
This STILL has to be the top credibility killer for writers, even after all this time. Of course, everyone has bad days and periods of negativity. But when you log in to social media just to go on about how crap life is; how hard writing is; how no one will give you a break; how the industry is in a state; how you’re a crap writer; how crap movies or telly or whatever are – GUESS WHAT! Everyone will desert you, including the very people you wish would notice you, like agents, producers, filmmakers and fellow writers. That’s just the way it is.
Look, human beings are social animals and want to ENJOY one another’s company. Funny that! Yes, yes, none of us are superhuman; it’s not possible to be happy 24/7. No one expects you to be. But try and paint on a smile and look for the best of the situation – not for everyone else, but crucially, for YOURSELF.
The notion of “Fake It Til You Make It” when it comes to Happiness might be hogwash, but way I figure it, a fake smile might become a real one, but where can REAL misery go, but into yet more unhappiness? Also, the industry is smaller than you think: complain too much about what dire state it’s in or how bad individual programmes, movies or individuals are, how long before you run into the people who made them? Again: protect YOURSELF.
Can you think of any other credibility killers for writers? Leave them in the comments here or here in the B2W Facebook group. And yeah, yeah, we know:
0. Writing blogs about how *not* to do social media
Yeah we’ve had that one already – PSYCHE! 😛
These are great, Lucy – and people participating in the above *do* wear a big ‘n00b’ sign around their necks. I’d add my own if I may…
1) Endless feeds of lofty platitudes and other hippy drivel on your TwitBookFace page ostensibly about writing but not really amounting to saying ANYTHING solid about writing. Yes yes, you’re a ‘creative soul’ that haunts coffee shops because THAT’S WHAT WRITERS DO. Great. Have you done any writing lately? No? GO HOME AND GET ON WITH IT, THEN.
2) Badly writing about writing. Lucy’s an ace, are *you* an ace? Are you a professional? No? Then don’t attempt to teach others with advice you’re regurgitating from wikihow or Yahoo questions.
3) Slatin’ n’ Beratin pros who have told you things you don’t want to hear. I recently saw a blog taking apart a hugely respected party simply because the notes the writer received didn’t pat him on the back and tell him he was wonderful. He went on to highlight films that were ‘made and released’ that ‘had more mistakes in them than mine’. Ouch, this isn’t just sour grapes and inability to surmount your ego, it’s writing suicide. Professionals will eat your screenplay for breakfast, and you need to be ready to be chowed on – and then, STFU about it. Take you knocks, any working writer has bruises. Taking pros apart publicly only makes you look amateur, unprepared, naive, and bitter – a trifecta that makes you wholly avoidable.
Haha thanks Austin, welcome from Lurksville: haven’t seen you around here before, what a lovely blouse you’re wearing.
Way I see it, deep down WE’RE ALL EVIL because we’re writers and it’s our jobs to talk disparagingly about real people and call it “fiction”, no? 😉 This is why no one wanted to be our friends at school … because they could smell the bitterness! Which of course provides DRAMATIC IRONY because had anyone wanted to be our mates, we’re never have become writers and probably be something far more successful like lawyers, suing people for defamation (goddamn those writers for changing the names).
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As pin-sharp and beautifully written as ever. And correct. xx
Well, that’s about as candid as I have ever read on the subject of how to screw up a writing career. Keep on pounding it home, Lucy. You’ll never know just how many writers you saved, but throwing the life ring can only bring good karma.
Thanks David, will do! xx
This is a great advice. Thanks for sharing, Lucy XD