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03/12/2002 - THE BIG QUESTIONS


Dear Friends,

Most every time I run across a young or new writer, they ask me two things: (1) How can I get an agent, and (2) How can I get a job without an agent.

I've answered the second question many times, but I never get tired of answering it, because it's so simple. Write. You want to be a writer? Write, and you're a writer. Hell, I didn't say you'd be a competent one, but you'll soon enough find out if you have the talent, determination, and temperament to make a living at writing.

Emerson said "Do the thing and you will have the power." That's part of it. A theater producer, Therese Helbrun, once said "I have found that the work grows with the living. Do the thing as if you're life depended on it, and soon you'll find that you're making a living at it. A good one, too."

This goes for development assistants around town who want to be producers. You want to be a producer? Go out and produce movies. Or short films, commercials, home videos, whatever. Get the life rights to your neighbor, a small book you love - any property that you think should be made into a movie. Do your boss's job, and don't expect any credit or money for it. Do it because that's what you want to do, and you're getting the experience to do it on your own.

Acting as if you're already there is the only way you'll ever actually be there.

As for the first question, the answer is the same: make yourself a writer who actually needs an agent, and you'll have no trouble getting one. If you get an agent any sooner than that, you're focused on the wrong thing.

Both of these answers are so simple that they seem counterintuitive, but trust that there is power in this simplicity. My most effective career strategy has always been to finish a script and let it do the work for me. Good scripts have opened more doors for me than any agent or personal connection I've ever had. If you have relatives or friends who work in studios, by all means, use them in order to get your foot in the door. But if you're like the rest of us - terminally unconnected - just write and write and write until you finish something that makes you proud.

Writing on,



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