As writers, the only part of our career we can truly control is our output. How productive can we be? How can we write more pages in a day? How can we optimize our creativity and enrich our storytelling?
That’s why as part of my Good Books series, I’m exploring how we can work smarter — without adding six more cups of coffee to our day (because… let’s be real, I’ve already done that.)
Today, here are three books that will help you work more efficiently as a writer in Hollywood:
Got Enough Grit to Deal with Rejection?
Angela Duckworth’s book GRIT is a life-altering book: it proves that all of this failure we encounter on a daily basis actually helps us in the long run. Why? Because by developing grit and being forced to accept failure and grow every time we don’t get into a fellowship, don’t land a staff job, or lose out on a pitch is such a valuable skill.
I’ve seen firsthand how damaging it is to let failure or obstacles get to you. If you give in to that feeling of failure, you’ve lost. You’ve got to get back to the page as soon as possible, and keep at it.
So if you want to be a working screenwriter who can handle rejection, read this book.
Using the 10x Rule to Sell Yourself (And Your Work)
Disclaimer: this book is SUPER sales-y. I’m recommending it because, as writers, sometimes we need the kick in the pants to be better at selling ourself and our work. Sometimes, we need permission to be like HEY BUY MY STORIES YOU GUYS. Hollywood is based around sales, but even if you’re repped, you’ve still got to sell yourself in a room. And on the page. And on the notes call. Over and over into eternity. I know, it sucks, but if we wanted to be artistic writers who weren’t beholden to the system… we’d be novelists.
So this book serves as a motivational — albeit slightly crass — way to tap into that aggressive sales side of yourself you need once you get into a room.
I also love the idea of putting in massive action at whatever you do — especially when it comes to writing pages and reading.
How to Use Strengths Finder 2.0 to Staff a Writers’ Room
I’ve done the Strengths Finder test twice now, and my results have changed along with my skills which has been fascinating to dive into. It’s affirming to see your strengths on paper, and to get better insight into how you work and how you should tweak your approach to writing and working with others.
As television writers, understanding how to parlay our strengths in the writers’ room is critical to getting staffed again and again. We also need to be able to read the strengths of the other writers in a room as television writing in particular is so collaborative.
For example, your showrunner may be a Futurist, which means they’re able to articulate a grand idea for the future of the story. If you’re an Activator, you should feel free to utilize that strength to support that vision with your action-oriented abilities.
And yes, you can use Gallup’s Strength Finder to staff a writers room if you know people’s strengths. Here’s how:
If another writer on staff has the Ideation strength, it would be great to pair them with someone who is Focused, so they can channel new ideas for the scripts in a focused way to present to the rest of the staff. And it’s always great to have an Includer if somebody at the table doesn’t feel as comfortable volunteering their great ideas.
Television writing is so team-based, you have to understand everyone’s strengths in the room, including your own.
That’s all for today! Check out my Popular Posts page for more screenwriting and writing tips.