Read this tip to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about The Working Writer and other Screenplay topics.
We writers are an odd lot. We spend most of our time hunched behind a computer screen, tapping away 'til the wee hours, fueled on caffeine and talking to ourselves. Is it any wonder we lose some of our social graces?
As comfy as those week-old pajamas are, sooner or later you'll have to bathe, cut your fingernails, and face human beings. You'll want them thinking you're a professional. Here are some guidelines to follow:
Be courteous to everyone you meet. Never talk down to an assistant, snap at a reader, or belittle a hat-check girl. Besides being good manners, it's also good business sense. You never know where that person will end up in a year from now. Hat-check girl today, movie mogul tomorrow. Hey, it could happen. So spread good karma. Be nice.
Show backbone. Being courteous doesn't mean being subservient. Confidence and self-possession are charismatic qualities. People will respect you if you can express your opinion with assurance. So go ahead and speak your mind, politely and respectfully. And show even more confidence by keeping an open mind and listening to others.
Be easy to work with. Hollywood may be full of divas, but nobody really likes them. If you're a mega-star, guaranteed box-office hit, you may be able to get away with it—for a while. But as a novice writer, forget it. Review tip #3, A Collaborative Art, and leave your high horse in the stable.
Separate the professional from the personal. As a screenwriter, you'll be praised, rejected, replaced, rewritten, fired, and re-hired. Your script will be lauded, altered, butchered, crucified, and scrapped. It's just the way it goes. Don't take it personally.
Value and nurture your reputation. Write amazing scripts. Be reliable. Deliver on time. Communicate when you have a problem. Be supportive of other people, rival writers included. Refrain from gossip. Give credit where credit is due. Create miracles.