Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Courtney Meznarich

How to Determine What Screenwriting Success Looks Like For You

The fastest way to ruin something special in yourself is by comparing it to someone else.

Look, the entertainment industry is cutthroat. But the people who “make it” have one thing in common – they have something totally different to offer than everyone else. Their voice, look, story, angle, or talent set them apart from the people who are just trying to imitate someone else’s success. While they may be overcome with the curse of comparison at times, as I think happens to most of us, they know in their hearts what makes them stand out, and they embrace it.

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Are you embracing your own screenwriting journey, or are you comparing it to others? If it’s the latter, stop doing that right now, says Dreamworks Story Editor Ricky Roxburgh, who previously wrote for Disney Animation Television.

“Do it for you first,” he began.

Success looks different to everyone, and it starts by gaining confidence in your achievements. Even though Ricky has achieved what many would consider career success, he still finds joy in writing in his personal time. That, to him, is a success, too.

“Write the best thing that you can write first,” Ricky said. “Don’t chase other people. Especially now, like social media and everything, everybody can see what everybody’s up to, or you see everybody’s highlight reel.”

Remember that those highlight reels don’t tell the full story.

“Don’t look at somebody else that’s like 25 and making a million dollars doing it,” he said. “Everybody fails for a long time, or at least it feels like a long time to them.”

Write the best thing that you can write first ... Don’t chase other people ... Everybody fails for a long time, or at least it feels like a long time to them.
Ricky Roxburgh

How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Other Screenwriters:

The Person on the Top of the Hill Didn’t Fall There

Remember that the successful screenwriter didn’t just get lucky. While some luck may have been involved, they were prepared when it struck. Luck is preparation meeting opportunity, as comedian and veteran TV producer Monica Piper told us. You have to be prepared, and it takes hard work to get there.

What do you have to offer?

Identify what makes you different. Maybe even write it down to refer back to it when you start comparing yourself to other writers. Those writers are special because of their unique voice, so comparing yourself to them doesn’t make sense. You are just as unique and will find success based on what sets you apart from them, not the other way around.

Always Improve

The best writers are never done learning. Spend more time honing your writing craft and less time looking at other writers’ achievements because I can guarantee you that they didn’t achieve that success by watching their competitors all day!

Know That Success Looks Different To Everyone

Your bar for success does not have to be the same as another writer’s definition of achievement. Maybe you wrote for 10 minutes today, stuck to your writing schedule all week, helped another screenwriter with their writing challenges, or completed three scripts in one year. A paid gig is not necessarily a successful one. It may not fulfill you.

“There’s this weird thing that people think like, I love doing this thing, so I have to make money at it,” Ricky concluded. “And it’s like, you don’t necessarily have to make money if you love writing. That shouldn’t be a bar.”

So, what’s your recipe for success?

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