Peggy Bechko: Stuff Writers Shouldn’t Do If They Plan on Being Successful

by Peggy Bechko


Writers of all stripes get feedback from all sorts of people – sometimes it’s solicited and sometimes it just jumps out at you. We handle all that feedback in a lot of different ways. But, there’s the feedback from knowledgeable sources we all have to pay strict attention to.

When a screenwriter gets it from on high and is told where a script may be lacking, that’s not a time to argue. When a novelist gets feedback from an Editor or Publisher, that is not the time to argue.

I know, I know, the web says this and the web says that. It’s a font of information – and a lot of it is wrong unless you’ve researched your resource thoroughly and know it is dependable.

So back to my original statement. There is no ‘secret’ to getting a script sold or a novel published. There’s no magic wand awaiting you out there on the web. So, don’t argue.

Look, if you, as writer, have presented a work for consideration and the person on the other end, be it Editor for books or producer looking for the next great script, gives you some tips and feedback it’s not a personal attack. You’re actually a step ahead.

Someone with the ability to help you toward your ‘destiny’ took enough interest to give ‘notes’. A serious screenwriter or novelist doesn’t argue with that. Watch out for that ego we all have and don’t let it make you feel like honest criticism is a personal attack.

If you’re secure in what you do you can take feedback, analyze it and tweak your written work accordingly; or not. I’m not saying ALL feedback is the best. But if we take the time to sit on it for a while, consider, then move forward.

Maybe it will make sense. Maybe you won’t want to change to accommodate or maybe you’ll need to find another person to critique the script or book. Whatever you, as the writer you are, decide, curb that first reaction and then decide.

Do you want to completely alienate a script contact or an Editor reading your manuscript? Well, then, just keep calling and bugging that contact about the progress of their read through.

Yeah, yeah, some folks you send your precious writing to may promise to read it right away or maybe next week or even tonight. Don’t believe them. Be patient.

In my experience the person who requests a script wants it yesterday…but then takes weeks to get back with approval or notes or whatever. Don’t get upset, it’s not worth it. Politely follow up in maybe three weeks and if still nothing, give them another week.

Beyond those couple of check-backs I’d say if there’s still no response it’s probably time to find another reader.

Let’s be clear. I’m saying this to keep you from getting frustrated and doing something to sabotage yourself. These folks aren’t doing it to annoy you. They’re busy people and more often than any of us would like they can underestimate the time it will take to get back to you.

Another tip? Don’t do what other writers do. Don’t follow the path of another writer in an attempt to find ‘success.’ You have your own individual goals, needs, talents and life circumstances which are totally different from those of another writer, even one who has already found success.

Quick example: If you are,  say, writing mysteries, patterning yourself after a superhero action writer most likely isn’t going to work.) Do what fits you. Write what fits you. Pursue your dream your way.

Finally, don’t discourage yourself, which we all know is far too easy to do. Believe me, there are plenty of negative folks out there who’ll be happy to beat you up. You don’t need to give them a helping hand.

Motivate yourself. Keep writing, even the really bad stuff. Avoid those who constantly tell you how unlikely it is that you’ll ever succeed. Don’t let those people into your writing bubble. Don’t ask them to read your work. Eliminate them from your contact if you can.

In other words, save yourself. Don’t waste your time with negative people. For that matter, don’t waste your writing time, period. Don’t let distractions get in the way. Take a break, sure, we all need them. But don’t turn a 15 minute break into an hour or more.

This list of ‘don’ts’ isn’t set in stone. These are suggestions. As you think about them, be honest with yourself. See what applies to you, and what doesn’t.

Then do what you need to. Your drafts and final polished product will thank you.

Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. Learn more about her sensational career HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page and her terrific blog.