Think wrongly, if you please, but in all cases think for yourself. – Doris Lessing

Go forth into the unknown, explore the caves of your unconscious, fear not your “dark side,” find the gold.

— Robin Hoffman (@AuthorAlchemy)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Vital Ingredient: Confidence

LAST NOVEMBER, a friend in London offered to show the treatment for my first screenplay to his producer friend.

As outlined in my December blog post, Writer Discovered While Waitressing, since I didn't have a deadline I took a gamble. Instead of submitting right away, I sequestered myself and wrote three more treatments in a short burst of time.

This paid off when I was encouraged to submit two treatments instead of one. To my way of thinking, if the producer's reader (his wife) didn't like the story for the script I'd already written, at least she would know I wasn't a one-trick pony.

Pretty much a dream scenario, right? Two treatments delivered directly to the wife of the producer. I was over the moon and dreaming big. I was even talking big (at least to my husband). How embarrassing later when nothing happened.

But before I knew nothing was going to happen, I decided which of my new treatments to use (Choices, Choices) and progressed a third of the way through writing script #2. And I started seriously attacking my biggest problem about becoming a screenwriter: pitching.

While I feel good about my writing skills, not so with my verbal presentation. My voice is monotone and I'm lousy at figuring out how to describe my story. I even bored myself into numbness practicing my stupid pitch.

Long story short, I went to great lengths to try to improve my pitching skills (including getting some coaching) and all it led to was MORE FEAR.

I fear and dread horribly the situation of having to pitch. People can throw their wisdom and advice at me ad nauseum but that doesn't reduce the fear whatsoever. In fact, it makes it worse.

Fortunately, in the time that has passed since then, I have gained some confidence that I thought was out of my reach. I did this through the process of soul writing,and it was agonizing at first.

I wasn't expecting to gain confidence from it, actually, but that's what happened. Unfortunately, it's not specific to pitching, but at least I have more self-belief than I did last year when the London opportunity played itself out.

Then last week, after not hearing from him for seven or eight months, my friend in London emailed me. He didn't have any lightning bolts from heaven -

MILLI, YOUR SCRIPT HAS CHANGED LIVES! WHEN CAN YOU SIGN THE CONTRACT??!!

- but he did say he was planning to keep reminding his friends to look at my treatments. Pretty inspiring to hear this news after months ago coming to the conclusion that the opportunity was dead. That one email switched me back into high gear and I started putting my screenwriting first again.

I still don't know whether I'll have enough confidence to pitch my stuff verbally (being asked for a treatment was so much easier!). But now the screenwriting bug has bitten me even deeper and I just have to see what happens.

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Milli Thornton (aka Milliver) is the author of Fear of Writing: for writers & closet writers. She is owner of the Fear of Writing Online Course, where her mission is to put the fun back into writing. Milli blogs at Milliver's Travels and the Fear of Writing Blog and coaches writers individually at Writer's Muse Coaching Service.

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