I like to pay it forward by having coffee/lunch/drinks/mani-pedis with family friends or acquaintances who’ve recently moved to L.A. (but mostly mani-pedis). Really kind people did the same thing for me when I first made the transition, and it’s literally the least I can do considering I have no jobs or ins at hotel roof pools to offer.
There is little rhyme or reason to succeeding as a writer in this industry (as far as I can tell), and yet I hear myself offering the exact same advice over and over again because I hear and see the same things work. I haven’t employed all of this wisdom, yet. Some of it is stolen from more successful people. But consider this my way of having a metaphoric mani-pedi sesh with the entire Internet, or at least the subset of aspiring writers on the Internet (so, 99% of the entire Internet).
- TAKE A WRITING CLASS. Writing Pad has excellent options (which I say as a teacher there but would say even if I wasn’t). You can go the sketch writing route and take classes at the UCB Theater. There are even fancier extension courses through UCLA. In a writing class you’ll become a better writer, meet other writers who will help you continue to write plus widen your social network, and chances are the teacher will be connected for help with potential jobs.
- READ DEADLINE.COM REGULARLY – In order to mold your original ideas into marketable ideas you have to know what’s being bought and sold. No, you don’t want your creative life dictated by the whims of the networks, but you also don’t want to spend a year writing a movie that Diablo Cody already wrote and sold. It’s also helpful to learn the major players in town so you’re educated when talking about the industry.
- SHOW YOUR WORK TO ANYONE WHO WILL READ IT – It’s hard at first, but you must. I got my first and second managers because I was willing to swallow my fears and share my work. You’re not asking people to buy your 1/2 hour television sample or hand you a job on a silver platter just because you have a completed a script. It’s just about asking experienced people to read a little bit and offer any thoughts about how you can continue to improve.
- GO TO SEE SHOWS AND THINGS – Comedy shows, storytelling shows, actual plays, book readings. There are things going on in Los Angeles every night of the week, and the people attending them are often if not always in the industry. You’re not sneaking into a famous author’s book reading to sling your own personal business cards to anyone you can force into a chat. You’re inserting yourself into the community by experiencing what people do here to share their work. You might meet a friend that ends up becoming your life-long writing partner or you might see a cool venue that inspires you to start your own storytelling show.
- WRITE, WRITE AND THEN WRITE SOME MORE, BUT ALWAYS BE ABLE TO TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE WRITING AND WHY – People are going to ask: “What are you working on?” For the first year I was living here I responded with something along the lines of, “oh just a silly 1/2 hour comedy…like everyone else in this town.” Not only is that a pointless response because it takes the conversation no where, but it sounds bitter, and the last thing this town needs is another bitter writer. Now I literally practice talking about what I’m working on in the shower. That is not a joke.
Yes, I sort of wrote this post to remind myself what I should always be doing to keep on keeping on. And yes, I wrote some of it while I was getting a pedicure, so really it’s like I just had a “welcome to LA, again” meeting with myself.
Yes, that’s how crazy this town will make you…