Android at 2015-04-28 22:11:25:
I just started writing last year at the tender age of 45. I know the odds of success are only slightly better than me spontaneously growing all my hair back but I'm doing it anyways. Even if it's late in the game I'm giving it everything I've got. If I don't try I'll regret it. I say you want to pursue your dream, go for it and good luck.
Scott at 2015-04-28 23:01:05:
Android, that's the bottom line: If a person, such as yourself, would regret NOT trying to make it as a writer, then it's a moot point. You HAVE to give it a shot. I did precisely that after getting my Master's degree, took a year off from academic life and pursuit of a doctorate to go see if I could make something of my musical interests. That turned into the rest of my life. I've had ups in my writing career. I've had downs. It's not easy being a freelance writer, you have to have a certain kind of constitution to do it. Are there times where I wonder what if I had gone straight into my doctorate, then become an academic and teacher for the duration of my life? Sure. But I know I would have regretted not pursuing my creative ambitions. I hear a similar thing from you, Android. And coming from that place, I have nothing but respect for a writer such as yourself. It takes guts to pursue writing and as the original tweet suggest, a bit of insanity. But this is our calling. In some ways, whether one makes money writing is besides the point. If you enjoy it, if in writing you are actively "following your bliss" per Joseph Campbell, then you are on your hero's journey and right where you need to be. So allow me to bestow this 'boon' upon you, Android a la the Hero's Journey: A voluminous blast of creative juju! AAAAWOOOOOGGGGAAAHHHH!!! Onward!
wakatb at 2015-04-28 23:05:51:
The way I see it is, I love movies, and I love to write. I love stories. Maybe it will amount to something, maybe it won't. So for that reason, I've come to realize that I at least have to enjoy the process. I think it's the same for a lot of the arts. Would it be great to be paid a million dollars to sing your songs? Sure. Is it going to happen for everyone who wants it. Nope. But does seeing your writing improve give you satisfaction? Does it still make you happy to hear your characters speak to you on the page? If so, then there are your reasons to keep writing.
Scott at 2015-04-28 23:12:14:
Well put, Waka. If a person has an ongoing experience of direct engagement with their stories and their stories' characters, how can you put a dollar value on that? That time spent writing can be a near-to transcendent experience. Again, how to put a dollar sign on that? To me, an attitude like yours puts you on a solid foundation as compared to what the so-called Hope Machine promotes, ideas that with this formula or this approach, Hollywood success is within your reach. Yes, you can aspire to that. Why not? But if you write because fundamentally you LOVE writing and can keep your focus there, then the act of creating is a success in and of itself. Thanks for your comments, Waka. And here's some creative juju for you: KAWHOOOOOSSSHSKIBOMBO!!!
Scott at 2015-04-28 23:17:17:
Let me add this point: It's not just about the script, it's about learning the craft. Much better to write because you love it, then daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly, you keep learning... and learning... and learning. You hone your skills at prepping stories. Developing characters. Writing scenes. Working with subplots. Hearing dialogue. Rewriting. And rewriting some more. You read, listen and watch interviews with pro writers to expose yourself to their habits and approaches. You watch movies and read scripts, analyzing why they work... or don't work. You generate story ideas regularly and always seek to write the strongest one. You find a writers group to critique your work and give you the opportunity to flex your critical analytical skills. You learn to write every day. Or if that's truly not who you are as a writer, find what pattern of writing DOES work for you, then keep on doing that. In sum, you develop practices and learn principles that are key to the writing craft. That way, when you DO write that great script, you've got some solid work habits in place and hopefully at least three solid scripts, and a bevy of stories in your back pocket.
Jon Raymond at 2015-04-29 03:03:58:
I have long found it fascinating that some people are so ageist, usually towards themselves. The same people would never be caught making assumptions about race or gender. But somehow age discrimination is quite acceptable. The irony is that all of us want to age, unless you crave to die young. It's an interesting enough topic to write stories about. The inner conflict of wanting to live and not wanting to age. Sunset Boulevard. Death Becomes Her.
Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light. - Dylan Thomas
One thing about writers of any age is that no one really ever sees their faces. It's rare. Another thing I notice with aged actors is that they have fascinating close ups. The thing that is insanity is the obsession with youth. Botox is insanity.
Debbie Moon at 2015-04-29 04:18:40:
Different industry, I know, but - I was in my mid-thirties when I first starting trying to break into UK television, and over 40 when I sold my first show. And how did I get that break? The right idea for the right audience at the right time. Like Scott says, nothing else matters. The difficulty with being an older writer in Hollywood, I would think, would be the non-writing stuff. It's easy to move to LA if you're 21 and fresh out of college. It's harder if you have a partner with a job and three kids in school...
Scott at 2015-04-29 04:53:00:
Botox IS insanity, Jon, especially since every single one of us ends up as worm food! I remember back in the late 80s and early 90s, there were those who extolled the Shane Black wannabes as writers whose only major reference to life was TV. Now perhaps comic books and superhero movies. At some point, are any of them going to be tethered at all to Real Life? And what happens when every trope, every Universe In Danger, every Fake Protagonist Death scenario has been played out in Superhero movies? What happens when they start to fail, as they inevitably will, whether it takes 2 years, 5 years, or 10 years? I have to believe that at some point, the needle will redirect back toward movies of some substance. And that can happen, too, with indie films like Boyhood, Birdman, Whiplash, Nightcrawler, etc. WE JUST NEED TO SUPPORT THESE MOVIES! Another interesting thing will be to see what these writers of superhero movies become interested in when they turn 40, 50 and 60. Hopefully interesting, diverse and quality stories.
Scott at 2015-04-29 04:54:22:
There you go, Debbie. And there is something both cruel and honest about fates determined by what's on the page. Learn the craft and write that great script. Can't ask for much more than that. How goes your TV series, Debbie?
John Arends at 2015-04-29 10:53:54:
Rock on, Russ, Debbie, et al and Scott. I'm turning the big 6-0 this coming week. And thanks to The Black List, Go Into the Story, the Academy Nicholl Fellowships crew, the PAGE team, my writer compadres at ScreenwritingU -- and everyone else who helped me figure it out during the past 10 years of intense focus on learning the craft -- I'm writing my first paid feature gig this summer for the NFL and am also developing a TV series for a producer at one of the network studios. It was on my 50th birthday that I had my Shawshank moment. And while it took the requisite time, and while my path is as unique as every other path into Hollywood, the journey for all of us of every age DOES boil down to that one simple truth: What's on the page? If it's amazing, and as Debbie says above, if it's expressing the right idea at the right time for the right audience, and if what's on the page comes from a place of passion for the craft and love for the story, you'll get your chance.
Scott at 2015-04-29 11:46:03:
John, thanks for chiming in. And congrats again on your success. I'll update the OP with a link to that interview you did with the Black List as another example of someone who picked up the torch a bit later on in life. Question for you: If you had NOT landed the paying gig with the NFL, would you STILL have been satisfied with all the time and effort you've put into writing? I guess I'm asking is the joy and satisfaction from your writing worth it to you in and of itself irrespective of financial benefit?
PaulG at 2015-04-29 13:18:56:
You only die once. Now or never. Go for it.
TaraUnscripted at 2015-04-29 22:32:19:
I mentioned during my introduction in class (Prep to Outline) I've known I was and have been a writer my whole life, but it was on the fringes; mostly for myself. I dared to publish a poem I wrote once upon a time in high school and it was promptly stollen and plagiarized. I never trusted my writing in public again. Fast forward to adult life. Two marriages, 3 boys, a stint in the NAVY and two major career changes later, I found myself at 40 years old being asked to adapt a book to screenplay. Sure why not. I've never done that before but hell, I won't know if I can if I don't try. So I did. It didn't go anywhere but it rekindled my love of writing and that of film, the two things I secretly craved to do my whole life. But I still let others determine my path for a bit. Screenwriting was a "hobby", "Hollywood is a dead end street", "you have other responsibilities now Tara" - the whole nine yards (the version w/o Bruce Willis). Now at 45 I'm wiser, stronger & know, my goals are my own & just as important as anyone else's. My path has always been there before me, I simply had to be brave enough to walk it and those who love me either support me or don't but I'm walking that path, with or without them. Life is short but it's never too short, or too late to follow the path, lit by your passions and paved with your dreams. Be willing to accept the bumps and curves and uphill struggles that are sure to be encountered along the way. Whatever they are, keep walking. Hills don't go up forever, eventually they go down the other side. Roads don't curve forever; eventually they turn in a new direction or stretch out into an open straightaway. Learn all you can on your way. Listen to the sages and ignore the naysayers. Don't be deterred. 46 - bah. Start your engine. I'll race you to the finish line.
Scott at 2015-04-29 23:58:35:
Amen.
Scott at 2015-04-30 00:04:47:
Tara your comments made me think of this: Consider what each of us over 40+ people bring to the table as writers. What distinctive aspects of our individual life experience, the breadth and depth days and nights we have spent on this Earth, all those places, all those faces, maturity and insight only years can bring... what of that can we use to elevate the stories we write? Consider our years as a strength and benefit, not a detriment. Works for me! And hopefully for YOU!
John Arends at 2015-04-30 00:19:17:
Absolutely, Scott. In fact, my wife, Anne, and I have a simple rule that we celebrate the progress, not the result. Every call from someone new, or a meeting that goes really well, or a request for a script...we celebrate each small milestone of progress. Usually it's by opening a bottle of wine that night. Mostly three-buck Chuck from Trader Joes, but for the biggies, we go with one of Coppola's wines. It happens that Annie is a singer and chorister and comes from a musical family. She teaches pre-school kids and literally sings every day of her life. It's like breathing, inseparable from who she is. I learned from her that stringing words together is sort of the same for me. It's the joy of doing what you love, and sharing it with others, that keeps it real.
Scott at 2015-04-30 01:12:32:
Thanks for that follow-up, John. I can relate. I get as much joy from my teaching as I do my writing, either way I'm involved with stories which is one of the key things that enliven me. Heck, I just counted it up: In April, I participated in 56 teleconference sessions through Screenwriting Master Class. Most of them critiquing script pages or story outlines, brainstorming solutions to story problems, and workshopping material. I couldn't POSSIBLY have the energy to do that and keep up with my own writing, as well as this blog, and teach a university course each semester if I didn't love what I do and find joy in it. So yes, do it because you love it. Your stories may never take you to Hollywood, but they can take your imagination soaring into new story worlds and bring deep satisfaction in giving voice to your creativity. And then, there are times, such as with you, John, where the muses shine down upon you and give you the opportunity to get paid to write. We can NEVER know if that can or will happen unless we WRITE our stories and put them out there. And so as I always say... Onward!
John Arends at 2015-04-30 07:55:43:
Amen!
Jeff Guenther at 2015-05-04 00:20:58:
I'm a retired chemical engineer. I wouldn't say I'm old; I still have a memory just like one of those big, grey animals. More importantly, I love the craft; I love the technology (with some serious doubts about CGI.) I'd already written 14 stageplays when, for a lark, I started taking screenwriting at LAHC a few years back. I published my first novel a couple of years ago and recently started studying acting. I can't guarantee I'll be successful in film, but I think I'll have fun and meet interesting people.
Chandra Shekhar at 2015-05-08 06:46:53:
In simple, playing a old man role in movie, it's not necessary to be old in age.
Scott at 2015-05-08 11:08:55:
"I think Iíll have fun and meet interesting people." Well, you can't ask for much more than that, Jeff. That's a delightful attitude to have. If our pursuit of writing brings us pleasure and enhances the quality of our life, then that is a 'success' in and of itself. Onward!
Scott at 2015-05-08 11:09:54:
Chandra, I would guess the inverse is true, too: you don't have to be young to write young. So in theory, age should be rather irrelevant compared to a writer's talent and abilities.