Writing Goals: 2013 [Part 3] — Where Do You Want To Go As A Writer?

December 19th, 2012 by

In Part 1, we looked back at the Past, what we had accomplished as writers in 2012.

In Part 2, we considered the Present, assessing where we are now.

Today we direct our self-reflection toward the Future. Not 2013, but beyond. Five years from now. Ten years. Twenty. We consider the question: Where do you want to go as a writer?

Of course, we can’t know the answer. Indeed we can’t even assume we’ll make any money in the creative arts. As I wrote in this TBOS column is: “Movies don’t owe anybody a living.” Swap out any kind of writing for ‘movies,’ it’s the same thing.

But while we must keep our feet firmly planted on the ground, understanding the odds against financial success, there is no good reason why we can’t put our head in the clouds, indeed poke above them to catch a glimpse of our possible bright future. In fact, it’s important to envision what a successful career in the entertainment field would look like because when you break into the business, one of the earliest conversations you will have with your agents and/or manager is around this question: What do you want to do?

During this part of your reflection process, if your mind wanders off into images of a home in the Hollywood Hills, a new sports car, walking the red carpet at a movie premiere, Spielberg on the phone to ask you to salvage a troubled script, your Academy Award acceptance speech, I have no problem with that. We all deserve and need fantasies such as those to kick-start our motivation from time to time.

But the focus here is specific: You and your writing. Where do you want to be with it in a decade or longer? What would be the most fulfilling use of your creativity as a writer?

Again if you haven’t joined in with our collective ruminations in this series of posts yet, now is a perfect opportunity. First off, there’s zero negativity involved in this mental exercise today, rather it’s all about a positive sense of your future (i.e., fun stuff). Second whether you subscribe to the theory of creative visualization or not, having a specific image of yourself as a writer in the future at least provides you with a point of focus for your efforts in the present.

Today: Where Do You Want To Go As A Writer

Here are some questions you may ask yourself:

* Do you want just to write movies?

* Do you want just to write TV?

* Do you want to write both?

* Do you want to write and direct?

* Do you want to write and produce?

* Do you want to bounce between writing big commercial movies and character-driven indie films?

* Do you want to write screenplays and novels?

* Do you want to carve out a niche writing specific types of movies or write across multiple genres?

I’m sure you have other questions to add to the list. Whatever you ask yourself, the important thing is to project into the future and imagine where you want your writing to take you.

As part of this series, I promised to share my own process. And at this point in my life, I find this to be a really interesting question. When I lived in L.A. and wrote nearly 30 movie and TV projects in 15 years for every major studio and broadcast network, this was an easy question to answer: I wanted to continue doing what I was doing. But I have charted an unusual path during my creative adventure. In a way, my choice to leave L.A. and go work for an independent production company represents a radical departure akin to when I left Yale to take a year off in order to explore what possibilities my interest in music would generate. In the case of the latter, it led me to screenwriting. In the case of the former, I have been unsettled as to where this path is leading. But the mist may be clearing just a bit.

I don’t have a fixed sense of what that future might look like as I’m not sure there are any paradigms out there for me to follow. As indicated yesterday, I have two strong interests with my writing: To write stories and to write about Story. There is a third component which has to figure into the mix: I want to teach.

I don’t know how to explain this desire. I just have an instinct for teaching. It is as much a part of my core essence as writing is. To demonstrate how much, when I sat down with myself this weekend, I considered this question: “If I wrote a spec script and sold it for one million dollars, would I quit teaching?” I barely had to think about it. The answer was definite: No, I would not. In fact, if I was working full-time as a screenwriter again, I’d probably still maintain this blog if only to keep up an educational outlet.

Why? Part of it is, as I suggested yesterday, I believe teaching is in my DNA. But there’s another component. When Universal Pictures bought the spec script K-9 for three-quarters of a million dollars in 1987, I was a complete and total outsider to Hollywood. And ever since that very first year of transitioning into the business of screenwriting, I have felt a powerful commitment to make myself available to aspiring writers. I think a major reason for this is I always root for underdogs. Case in point, being a military brat and moving around the country as I did, I could choose any Major League Baseball team to root for. I chose the New York Mets. This is back in 1964 when they really sucked. But that’s precisely what appealed to me about them. I love underdogs. And once I understood how long the odds were against success as a writer in Hollywood, I found a brave new world of underdogs: Every writer outside the system.

I suspect at least some of you are thinking, “This guy is full of shit” or “Myers is feeding us a total line.” I get it. I mean, why would anybody in their right mind feel such a connection to and commitment on behalf of other writers?

Here is my rejoinder: GITS. Why the hell would I have started this site and written over 10,000 posts in the 50 months I’ve been hosting it? It sure ain’t the money as I haven’t made one thin dime from my efforts as a blogger.

The truth goes deeper. I love movies. I love screenwriting. I want to do whatever I can to help writers find their voice, tap into their passion, fuel their motivation, inform them about the ins and outs of Hollywood, prepare them for the possibility of breaking into the business, and in a perfect world engender their ability — and by ‘their,’ I mean your — to write a great script worthy of becoming a great movie.

Believe that or not… but I swear that’s the truth.

So where do I want to go as a writer?

I want to write stories. I want to write original screenplays. I want to write novels. I have multiple story concepts I want to bring to life on the page.

I want to write about Story. I want to pull together my theories about screenwriting as books. I want to publish what I think are exciting, new and distinctive ideas about how to approach crafting a story, offering a different voice to the conversation about the craft.

I want to teach writing. University? Screenwriting Master Class? GITS? All of them? Some of them? Something else? The other two aspects — writing stories and writing about Story — lay out pretty clearly in my mind. Teaching? Still a work in progress.

In any event, I have formulated a set of goals for 2013 that will move me forward on all fronts: writing stories, writing about Story, teaching writing. I’m excited by the prospect I will be doing that for next 10 years… and maybe beyond.

How about you? Do you have a clear sense of what you want to be doing in five or ten years? Or is your vision of the future an amorphous one? Stop by Comments, won’t you, and share your thoughts.

Tomorrow we focus on practical matters. Remember what we’re trying to do here is be S.M.A.R.T. about our choices when it comes to Writing Goals: 2013.

S = Smart

M = Measurable

A = Achievable

R = Realistic

T = Timely

After spending time with our head in the clouds, tomorrow we focus on keeping our feet on the ground.

See you in Comments!

Comment Archive

16 thoughts on “Writing Goals: 2013 [Part 3] — Where Do You Want To Go As A Writer?

  1. Debbie Moon says:

    Okay, I’ll kick things off. Five words: I want to write movies. I know I don’t want to direct, or particularly to produce; I enjoy TV, so I can see myself bouncing between British TV and Hollywood. But I want that whole Hollywood movie thing!

  2. Erica R Maier says:

    I believed every word of it. It’s very easy to be selfish in this field — being selfless is going against the grain and I believe that reaps the ultimate rewards.

    I have a lot of high hopes for 2013 and beyond. I intend to write more than ever before. Be intentional with my work, my time, and how I study the craft. Actually BE self-disciplined, holy crap.

    Your questions above are great. For 5 years, I have been employed as a producer/director of TV commercials (teeny, tiny, local ones), and the job has taught me that I DON’T want to direct. My talent is in writing, first and foremost. Producing, a very distant second. I’m glad I know that, and know where to focus my efforts.

    Here we go!

  3. Shaula Evans says:

    My goals are almost always about process, not outcome. Where do I want to be with writing in 5, 10, 20 years? In a life where I’m doing more writing.

    (I realize that’s not the spirit of the question but it’s the way it works for me.)

  4. April Austin says:

    In the future I want to be a staff writer/producer for television and work my way up to being a showrunner.

    I want to write original screenplays and work on rewriting assignments.

    I want to write novels.

    I want to continue my blog.

  5. KRobb_AMP says:

    Scott – You may already know about this, but Stanford does online writing classes and I believe in the past they’ve had trouble filling the instructor role for the screenwriting class. May be something to think about. Thanks for your creative juju yesterday!

  6. Win Vahlkamp says:

    Just a little nit, sorry:
    S = Specific
    M = Measurable
    T = Timely/Time-Bound

    I plan on completing one SciFi/Fantasy (because I love that genre) script next year (which will be my first) and submitting it for sale. I plan on ending 2013 with 335 different concepts (giving my self a month off for mental rest) with a minimum of 100 loglines so that I can write two more scripts in 2014 and three scripts in 2015. I hope to sell my first script by 2016.

    My only fear is that by then, I will be 46 years old. Hopefully I’m not seen as too old.

  7. Win Vahlkamp says:

    Question: What is writing commercials considered? Is that writing copy of some sort of scriptwriting-esque writing?

  8. Ana Maria says:

    Where do I see myself as a writer?

    I want to write stories–primarily screenplays, that reveal and uplift the human condition, and that allow us to see how connected we are. I want to write comedy and drama or a mashup of the two that, for me, feels authentic to life. These are generally indie films–but who knows? And most of all, WHY do I want this? To feel that I’m contributing my gifts and making the lives of others just a little juicier. Which would make my own life pretty damn juicy.

  9. Frederic says:

    In 10 years I’d like to have multiple credits to my name in film. I’d like to continue to write features, particularly studio “prestige” films and period pieces. I would consider larger studio fare as well.

    I also have a strong interest in TV and would like to have my own show and be on track to become a show-runner. I realize this may unrealistic, we’re dreaming here.

    I’d also love to go back and forth between NYC and LA or maybe even NYC primarily (if the show were there).

  10. There are so many things I would like to see happen in 10 years. I would like to see the stories I am working on now come to life and made. Have the flexibility not only to work full time as a feature writer in the industry, but also adapt some of my favorite books into screenplays. Also write for animation, ala Pixar, disney, dream works. Directing too. Drama, fantasy, animation. Dabble with novel writing if the right idea came along, but my first idea choice is always the ‘feature screenplay.’

  11. nicolemsaad says:

    I believe you. I left a ‘real’ and ‘well paying’ job two years ago so I can go back to college and study creative writing. I could no longer live Plan B of my life and although I sometimes feel like I’m walking through fog, I believe in the plan.

    I needed my passion to become my profession, so if I have to narrow it down to what I want in the future it would be to make a living out of my chosen profession- storytelling and particularly screenwriting.

    Having grown up in Beirut, I can honestly say storytelling – its ability to simply take me away saved my sanity. I want to be the writer who does that for other people – take them on a journey, touch them, change them, anger them, bring the joy or tears…make them feel, help them escape.
    I want to write for both, film and TV although TV has my heart :)

    And I want to write well…I want to be good at it, perhaps less terrified…then again, does that ever happen? If there is a chance that I would wake up in 5 or 10 years and be less terrified of finding out that I may not be ‘good at it’ then I want that!

    1. TheQuietAct says:

      “…its ability to simply take me away saved my sanity. I want to be the writer who does that for other people – take them on a journey, touch them, change them, anger them, bring the joy or tears…make them feel, help them escape.”


  12. Liri Nàvon says:

    Six years ago, my acting teacher told me I should be writing. I took it seriously, and since then I’ve been writing scripts with parts for myself.

    My goal had always been to be an actress, but after seeing Tina Fey, Kristen Wiig and Lena Dunham, I realized I could combine both writing and acting, and that is where I hope to be in 5-10 years.

    I want to do both TV and movies. I can’t imagine my world being complete without doing (or trying to do) both.

  13. I see myself as a writer bouncing between TV and movies. I want to have a decent gig writing on a TV (preferably one that doesn’t get cancelled after one season). I also want to continue to write movies.

    I think I specifically want to stick with telling genre stories (sci-fi, adventure, fantasy, horror, etc.). I see myself on a show like The Walking Dead or Once Upon a Time working as a staff writer, creating the stories being told rather than consuming them.

  14. SabinaGiado says:

    This question filled me with fear at first. Because of the disappointment that comes with unmet goals. But then I invited in peace instead.
    Where do I want to be in 20 years?
    46 years old hopefully.
    Writing passionately.
    Many produced credits under my belt. I don’t honestly know if I’ll continue to write screenplays, TV, novels, which genre, commercial or indie, etc. I just know that I want to write stories that blow my mind and hopefully other people’s too.
    That requires being mind-blowingly honest with myself about whether my characters are interesting, my concept is interesting, my themes are interesting etc. I commit myself God willing to that honesty every single day.
    As of now, mind-blowing means for me sci fi and black comedy screenplays and novels. TV is something that I’ve not explored yet, but God willing, I will in the future.
    I would like to be at peace with my life and since writing is a big part of my life, I would like to be at peace with the creative process and the many unforeseen circumstances it might throw up.
    I would like to be comfortable with my Tribe. My Creative Family. People I am in the process of looking for now.
    I’ll admit my motive for looking for them is quite selfish at the moment – I want someone to ‘get’ what I’m trying to say with my work and be as passionate about it as I am. But I know those relationships are synergistic. That magic I have only felt once and I am keen to feel again.
    I don’t know where I’ll be – Hollywood? Or indie film? I don’t where I will belong. But I would have found my Home and hopefully settled in quite nicely.
    I might teach what I know. But I don’t know about that yet. My Creative Self is a mite too selfish just yet.
    My biggest enemies are Fear and Complacency. I hope God willing they would become my friends and allies and I know how to usher them out the door when they are not needed.

  15. 14Shari says:

    My writing goals for 2013 are TV pilot script, feature film script (political thriller), family feature film script (holidays) and do research for historical fiction novel. All of above are new for me.
    As a writer I want to develop myself in multiple ways. I want to write screenplays, essays, plays and novels. Within ten years I hope to have accomplished at least one of them successfully.

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