Season 5 – epiBLOG 5:
What happens when you hit the proverbial “brick wall” when you’re building your entrepreneurial artistic career? Some people take that as a sign that they are on the wrong path, and quit pursuing their dream.
Others continue to persist with the same actions taken in the past that haven’t produced results, but with the expectations that taking these same actions MIGHT just produce results at some point. WTF?? Don’t confuse persistence with bad ideas or bad plans.
First of all, don’t quit on your dream. Quitting on your dream is quitting on yourself.
Secondly, don’t continue to keep trying the same methods that aren’t getting you anywhere. Keep the same dream if it’s genuinely what you desire, and create or discover new paths to get there.
Today’s topic is on finding new paths to the same goal.
I remember when my focus was solely on building myself as a screenwriter. Let me paint a picture of what that looked like 20 years ago.
I was in my early twenties. Getting ready to graduate with my Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications. The sitcom Friends was actually on the air, and not just playing continuously in syndication on TBS and Nick at Nite like it is now. I would write whenever I created the opportunity. I was even crazy enough to send query letters to well-established literary agencies in both New York and California, pitching my first script ever written as a writing sample to show them all the “glory” that is Nitara. Yeah, right.
Big mistake. And a learning opportunity.
The rejection responses flooded my mail box. (We actually still used snail mail to communicate back then). At first, I couldn’t understand why I was getting the rejections. I mean, my work was great in my mind. After I did more research on what it takes to actually write a well-executed screenplay, I quickly realized my mistakes. I started to regroup. Studied other scripts. Studied movies. Studied screenwriting books. Learned everything I could… and most importantly, I continued to write. It was my passion and I was determined to succeed in one of the most challenging industries to work in.
What if I would’ve continued to submit query letters to literary agents instead of discovering WHY I was receiving the rejections in the first place? Persistence would have never paid off because I still had to learn how to write scripts effectively. Remember… don’t confuse persistence with bad ideas or with bad plans.
Or what if I would’ve quit altogether as a writer? I wouldn’t have gone on to write over 35 scripts and treatments to date. I wouldn’t have written, produced, and directed my film Running on Empty Dreams, which was autobiographically-based and won three awards. I wouldn’t have taught Screenwriting at the college level. I wouldn’t be a full time writer right now who is being asked by advertising and marketing agencies, producers, and private clients to write for them.
Still, I’m not exactly where I want to be. Just like 20 years ago, I hit another brick wall in 2018. I know what you’re thinking… it’s only January. But I’m good with hitting this brick wall because it made me realize just how important it is for my writing business that I have an actual business strategist to help me navigate my career to the next level.
6 TIPS TO BREAK CAREER BARRIERS:
- Spend some alone time in a quiet place with a notebook and pen or a laptop. Create two columns if you’re using a notebook. On one side, write what is working in your career/business. On the other side write down what isn’t working. It’s good to know exactly where you stand by dealing with realities and not perceptions. On another page, create two columns once again. One column should list what you enjoy doing as an artist; on the other side you should list what you don’t like. You want to make one last list with your strengths and your weaknesses. Defining these areas will free your mind up. You can determine areas in your business where you need help and other areas that you actually thrive in. You want to do more of what you thrive in doing and ask for help where you need it.
- Attend reputable workshops, seminars, and conferences. Hearing and learning from other successful people will give you ideas for new paths that you can create for yourself.
- Read (or listen to audio books) that help support the life that you’re desiring to live as a thriving entrepreneurial artist.
- Determine whether or not you need a mentor, a business coach, or a business strategist. It’s up to you based on where your artistic business is now and where you are emotionally and mentally in relation to your business needs.
- Continue to create your art for your clients, as well as doing your own personal projects that feed your mind and soul. Creativity must flow. It can’t be stifled.
- Be authentic with what it is that you want out of your career and be authentic with yourself about whether you are taking the steps to move in the direction of what you want. Authenticity has to be there in order for you to be successful.
I’m going to elaborate on the idea of being authentic [with yourself] when it comes to your artistic career. Throughout the past few years, I’ve been attempting a number of different ways to become a full time writer. All of my methods – my paths – led to NOT accomplishing that goal because I wasn’t being authentic with what I really wanted. All I ever wanted to do was to make a great living by writing.
I love movies. I even have fun being on film sets. Nevertheless, I became a director and a producer because I felt it was the only way for my scripts to be produced. Along the way, my career became about getting produced and not about the writing itself. I’m a storyteller. I love creating stories, and that had gotten lost for me for a while because I was creating several methods on how I would achieve that. Ironically, those very methods got in the way of me doing what I really wanted to do – the writing.
Today’s LESSON is to continuously create new roads that you anticipate leading directly to your destination. There’s no way to determine which ones will get you there, but keep being open to different roads.
FUN ASSIGNMENT: If you’re at a point of hitting a “brick wall” right now, look up local and relevant workshops or seminars in your area. Choose one to attend in order to get inspired and to learn more information about moving forward. Then take some time to create another path for yourself.
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