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30 Top Tips For Your Younger (Writer) Self

Advice For Your Younger (Writer) Self

Got some advice for your younger (writer) self? It’s so easy to look back with hindsight and go ‘Ooops! My younger (writer) self was a bit of a tit.‘ Yup … Been there, done that!

I sat down and identified a whopping 30 pieces of advice for our younger (writer) selves. Have I missed any?? Be sure to add your own in the comments. Let’s go …

1) Start NOW

Seriously … now. Don’t wait. Conditions will always be impossible and the odds will never get better. So get going!

2) Follow your passion

Never lose sight of what you love. Whatever it is you want to write about? Go for it. So what if it’s a tough sell BUT …

3) … Understand the marketplace as well

No, this isn’t ‘selling out’. This is amateur talk. You don’t have to write FOR the market, BUT if you want to sell your work? Then you need to write with it. A subtle, but crucial difference.

4) Stop telling industry pros what they’re doing ‘wrong’

We get it, you love movies, books and television. Good for you.

But guess what: so do the people who make the stories you love to hate!

Do you REALLY think they haven’t thought of your ‘solutions’ for their stories? They laboured over it for literally thousands of hours.

Similarly, stop going on about ‘fixing’ the industry. Either fix it (you can’t) or sssh.

5) Learn about the craft

No, I don’t mean moving words around on the page. Work out what craft means to you, figure out your strengths and weaknesses. Take a course like B2W’s free online mini-course, The Foundations of Writing Craft.

6) Understand how feedback works

Learn to handle valid feedback and spot the type with an agenda. Don’t listen to people who are willing you to fail.

7) Listen to those with experience

NEWSFLASH: professional writers and those who actually work in the industry know more than you do. They have actually lived through this. You read about it on the internet. Huge difference.

8) Listen to your gut

If an opportunity seems too good to be true, it probably is. Do your due diligence.

9) Write your ideas down

Got a new idea? WRITE IT DOWN. Carry a notebook, email yourself, use an app, write on the backs of napkins … it doesn’t matter. Never tell yourself ‘I’ll remember it’. You won’t.

10) Develop good habits

Good habits might take a lot of hard work to form, but it’s worth the effort. This doesn’t just apply to writing either! Make sure you take frequent breaks, eat your lunch, go for walks. Don’t write so much you suffer burnout.

11) Be a professional …

Treat writing as your JOB, even if you haven’t been paid for your writing yet. The money will follow.

If writing IS your job? Under-promise and over-deliver. Others will love you for it and hire you again and again.

12) … But don’t forget to have fun!

Keep playing, laughing and having fun. Life is too short to be miserable and burned out by your work.

13) Be assertive

Don’t let others take the mickey out of you. NEVER take a job or contract just because it feels validating or your arm gets twisted. Never believe anyone who says ‘you’ll never work in this town again’ either. You will.

14) Don’t give up your day job too quickly

Your day job gives you stability. It also means you are involved in stuff ‘beyond’ writing, too. It’s better to have multiple income streams than panic every month about keeping the wolf from the door. Are you sure you want to leave yet? Your future (writer) self may thank you if you don’t.

15) Build your platform 

Writers who understand how to use social media, websites, blogs and Google well are easy to discover. Ensure you stand out, can network well and build relationships with the people who matter.

16) Don’t stress if people don’t care what you do

Some of the most successful writers with careers we envy don’t get kudos from their loved ones. Honest guv!

17) Never stop learning 

Never, ever stop learning. There will NEVER be a time you know everything about writing.

18) Ask ‘why?’

If there’s something you don’t understand about writing, publishing and filmmaking ASK about it. Do research too. Don’t automatically tell people they’re wrong. See point 4 on this list!

19) Ask for what you want 

Don’t be afraid to ask people for what you want. They can only say ‘no’ or ignore you.

20) … But don’t act entitled either

No one ‘owes’ you anything. Don’t kill your credibility by freaking out when someone DOES say no.

21) Stop getting angry about everything

Similarly, don’t freak out about remakes and reboots. Plus stop slagging everything and everyone off. It’s unproductive. Don’t jump in with the Dudeflakes by accident with hot mess takes and op-eds.

In short, just don’t be a dick. Other writers are our colleagues. Act like it.

22) Build your relationships

The media is literally built on them. Networking is important. You can have a script but not get published or produced if you don’t network … but you can network WITHOUT a script and get a job. Yes, really!

23) Follow the submissions guidelines

For the love of all things holy, just read them. But don’t freak out over them either. Balance people!!!

24) Break it down

Instead of getting overwhelmed, break down whatever it is into bitesize chunks. Sweat the small stuff and the big stuff will take care of itself.

25) Get a strategy

Whatever you’re doing, get a strategy for it. Set yourself concrete goals and work towards them.

26) Take risks!

Don’t play it safe. If something feels ‘too hard’, it might be a sign you need to do it. Weigh it up.

27) Go for it

Think about entering competitions, shadow schemes, lists, 48 hour film weekends, short film nights etc. They’re not possible for everyone but they CAN open doors, no matter what the naysayers insist. What’s the worst that can happen?

28) Understand how industry tech & logistics work

If you’re an author, learn how the Kindle has impacted the market. Give formatting software a try, even if you have no intention of self-pubbing. Understand how ebooks differ to paperbacks (and what’s the same about them).

If you’re a screenwriter, understand how films & TV are actually made. Look into film investment and/or the ways money can constrain productions and how this impacts them creatively.

29) Remember that haters gotta hate

Haters gotta hate; it’s literally what they do. Some people will NEVER cheer for you. Get used to it. Don’t bother trying to win them over. Give them a wide berth wherever possible. Don’t get obsessed with ratings and reviews, either.

30) BUILD your career

Stop focusing on ‘breaking in’ and ‘last chances’. Understand you need to BUILD your career.

Do any of these resonate?

Should you have followed this advice for your younger (writer) self? Or maybe I missed one … let me know in the comments!

Good luck out there!

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