Tuesday, April 7, 2015

10 Things That Hollywood Taught Me about Being a Writer

by guest blogger Jennifer Dornbush. 

 There’s an old adage in Hollywood: “An overnight success takes ten years.”  I’ve seen this come true over and over. Even in my own career, it has taken eight years between
drafting my first script to getting my first paid gig.  And during that time Hollywood taught me a few things about being a writer.

1. Live Well

I’ll be honest. Los Angeles was never my pick of places to live. It’s not even on my top ten. But this is where I (and my husband) have been called and immensely blessed. You can’t beat the weather, the food, and the scenery! On the flip side, the city fosters a competitive environment, high cost of living, constant traffic snags and often a sense of isolation.

Living in LA has challenged me to live a well-lived life no matter what my situation. The core concept here is to root yourself so that when the storms of life blow in, they will not shake or divert you from your calling to be a storyteller.

What does this look like for me?  It means paying attention to all facets of my being. Spiritual. Intellectual. Physical. Emotional. Relational.

Specifically? Taking pleasure in the little moments. Celebrating all the big and small victories along the way. Working hard. Being there for my husband, family, and friends. Exploring something new every week. Looking people in the eye and greeting them with a smile.  Keeping a deathbed perspective. And the list goes on….

A well-lived life is like a house built on solid ground.

2 – Stick out!  

I don’t like to stick out. I prefer to blend in. But that does not move a writer’s career forward. My first year in Hollywood I met a charismatic mentor who explained how necessary it was to set myself apart from the hundreds of writers competing for a small segment of jobs.

She told me the key was to develop my brand. This certainly didn’t happen overnight. And it happened in the most unusual way. I was working an entry-level job in post-production for an HBO TV show. The assistant editor on the show gave me the book, Body Farm, because he thought that with my forensic upbringing, I would find it interesting. I did!

And as I read the book, something clicked. I knew A LOT about this world because I had literally grown up with it in my home. I dawned on me that as a crime/mystery writer I could offer a unique look into the forensic world.

I started build on this brand. I enrolled in the Forensic Academy, wrote a book aimed at giving writers forensic insights, put myself out there as a crime drama writer, and began teaching forensic seminars for writers.

And now I stick out.

3 - Networking is Not a Naughty Word

How did this armchair introvert become a social extrovert?  Bottom line. I had no choice. I knew that if I wanted to succeed in Hollywood, I had to learn to branch out.

That Hollywood cliché, “it’s all about who you know” is100% true. Any job I’ve ever gotten in Hollywood, (even that entry level job in post-production), was because of a referral.

Therefore, I’m always open and trying to meet new people. For events (my least favorite type of networking) I developed strategies:

1. I use the buddy system. I bring a friend or meet up with a friend.
2. I prepare three icebreaker questions I can use on anyone.
3. I make a goal to collect three new contacts.   
4. After the event I follow up and stay in touch – mostly via email.

My long term networking plan is quite simple. Just be a friend and stay in touch.

Some ideas: follow up coffee dates, congratulate people on their successes, share good news, offer to help others, selflessly connect people, never take ‘not getting the project’ personally, and never burn bridges!

I find that no relationship I fostered (even in the tiniest way) is ever wasted. Case in point: A director I met seven years ago hired me this year to write a feature film. What was happening during those seven years of “networking” in between? We became good friends, bounced ideas off each other, had coffee, stayed in touch. Nothing wasted. Everything gained.

4 -  Slay the Writing Slumps  

About every three to six months, mild career depression sets in and I dream of ditching all the pressure of LA and retreating to my Michigan roots to live out my days in a serene lake home near my family and old friends.

This, of course, never happens because we believe that Hollywood is our mission field.I say “our” because my husband and I are a team on this adventure. He has a great position for a production company. It keeps us grounded here and makes him very happy. And that makes me happy.

Meanwhile, I’ve come to recognize these seasons of wanting to quit are normal parts of the journey for us artists.  Over my years in Hollywood I found four things that work like medicine to help me slay the slumps.

1. Every six months I take a verbal and written inventory of where I’ve been and what I’ve accomplished. Doing this shows me that there has NEVER been a time in all my years as a writer when my career has not been moving forward.

2. Encouragement Mantras. These are prayers, Bible verses, quotes, or words of encouragement gathered from mentors and friends.

3. After I’ve finished a project, I take a small break by leaving town. This may be a day, a week, or a month depending on what else is going on. It’s one of the best things I do to survive Hollywood.

4. And lastly… I try to live well.

 5 - Become a Renaissance Writer

This lesson I learned early in my screenwriting career. One of my first projects was producing a documentary about an 84 year old, nearly blind painter, Armand Merizon. As I documented his entire life’s work (from age 12), Armand taught me the importance of having a Renaissance mentality.

This mentality propelled Armand to continually master different forms of painting and topics.... from realism to surrealism to impressionism.

This happened because he read widely and kept up with current events. He studied classical music and great artists. He started an artists group and mentored new artists. He observed nature and traveled. When he later developed macular degeneration, he adapted to this new handicap by mastering yet another form of painting. He painted until almost the day he died at age 90.

Armand showed me the importance of living a renaissance life.

Here’s my writing Renaissance plan: Try writing in new genres. Work with a co-writer. Be an active member of a writers group. Listen to artistic podcasts. Go to seminars and conferences. Mentor other writers. Teach. Enjoy other forms of art. Visit new places (even within your hometown!). Learn a new language.  And, live well.

6 -  Don’t Be An Island Dweller

My favorite island (other than Kauai) is in my cozy living room chair with my laptop, my two dachshunds, and my imagination.

Living on that island that only get my writing career so far. It’s not healthy for writers to live on the island too long. If I want to be published and produced I have to get out of my living room island and go to my writers groups, have coffee with my mentors, take classes, mentor other writers, go to networking mixers, attend conferences, and take meetings.

If I’m not getting off the island at least once or twice a week, I’m not progressing as a writer.

Writers, there’s nothing wrong with loving island life; but we need frequent trips to the mainland if we want to flourish.

7- Guess What? You’re An Entrepreneur

Imagine my surprise when I got to Hollywood and learned that the entire system is entrepreneurial. Suddenly, it wasn’t enough to be just a great writer. I had to also become a savvy businesswoman. Because I AM the business and my writing is my product. I started to freak out as I realized that my Hollywood success would be measured largely by how well I understood the business of the business.

If this overwhelms you like it did me, take a deep breath and know that you can this in just two simple steps (with some homework assignments along the way).

Step 1: I made a decision to learn from entrepreneurs around me. I attend seminars. I listen to podcasts. I read articles and books on the subject. I try to absorb and practice the things that will be most helpful to me.

Step 2:  I built a team of people to support me where I am weak. Some of these team members include: my attorney, manager, lit agent, mentors, veteran writers, webs designer, career consultant, and my amazing husband, family and friends. These are all people who want to be on Team Jennifer. How cool is that?!  It really takes the dread out of being a business and makes it fun.

No entrepreneur makes it by herself.  There are people out there who want to be on Team [Your Name]. Now go get them!

 8 – Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day.

This was one of my grandmother’s favorite sayings. And now it has become one of the themes of my life. It especially holds true for my writing career in Hollywood.

How am I building the Rome of my writing life?

I try to cultivate patience and persistence.

I created mission statement so I know where I’m headed.

I measure all my writing projects against that mission. If it detours me or does not add value to my writing life, I simply don’t do it. For me, that means no favors for friends, corporate work, short films, reality TV. Your list will look different.

I set weekly, monthly, and yearly goals and write them on a giant sheet of post it paper on my office wall. I’m faced to hold myself accountable every day.

Do I meet them all? Nah. And I’m okay with that as long as better career opportunities or writing assignment take their place.  For instance, last year I had a goal of completing a new TV pilot to shop around. Just as I was positioned to start writing the pilot, I was asked to write a feature film (for hire!). Did this project fit into my writing mission? Absolutely! So I put off the TV pilot for a few months and took the feature gig. Now, I’m back on track with my TV pilot and will have a shoppable draft in just a few weeks right in time for staffing season (that time of year when networks want to hire writers).

If you’ve ever been to Rome you can’t ignore how rich and deep and amazing the city is because it’s literally been built on for centuries. Same will hold true for your storytelling if you just hang in there and stay focused.

9-  Don’t Quit Your Day Job

 No news flash here… but let me add a little challenge. Find a day job you enjoy doing.

It takes a long time for most writers to be able to support themselves with their craft.  It’s no different in Hollywood.  In fact, the odds of “making it” may actually even be more depressing for screenwriters than novelists.  Combat those odds by finding a day job you really enjoy.

I’ve had a quite a number of interesting day jobs since moving to LA. I’ve served in a restaurant, worked an admin position for a ministry, critiqued scripts, transcribed footage in post-production on TV and films, taught college, mentored writers, and coached non-English speakers at a high profile language school.

I used each situation to grow my professional skills. Meet new people. Challenge my social and intellectual life. And have some real human interaction. This is all a part of Living Well!

10 – No One Knows Anything

This is another favorite quip here in Hollywood. The underlying premise is that everyone’s opinion is subjective and therefore, my career is at the mercy of the willy nilly. I was never comfortable with this. And the truth is, I Do actually Know Something about story. And so do you.  And so do many of the decision makers out there. Just gotta find your way to them.

Here’s a classic example… I wrote a TV spec script last year called Meltdown. For those not familiar with the script world… Spec scripts are non-paid scripts we write to show off our work. Basically, they are portfolio pieces. It’s very, very, very rare that a spec script sells.  The aim is to get them to open doors for you.

I sent out Meltdown and the mixed responses started to come in. One producer didn’t connect with it at all. Another agent said it needed a complete rewrite. The script went on to win the Fox/Blacklist Competition and it got me a meeting with a production company who now wants to develop another project of mine.

A good story is a good story. And it will catch editor’s, reader’s, and viewer’s attentions.  Don’t live under the cop out of No One Knows.  You know who you are created to be. Rest assured that the Giver of the Gift expertly guides your success. 

Which of these ten points resonated most with you?

Jennifer Dornbush is an LA-based writer who scribes crime dramas for film and TV and is starting to delve into novel writing.  Wanting to share her love of forensics with other storytellers, she scribed Forensic Speak: How To Write Realistic Crime Dramas. She regularly leads seminars on forensics and fiction, hosts webinars on crime writing and has collaborated with The Writers Store and Script Magazine to produce a series of videos on crime writing and forensics for writers.  Her Forensic Speak Newsletter and Twitter feed reaches hundreds of writers with current forensic tips and developments.


You can read more about Jennifer and connect with her here:

Twitter: #ForensicSpeak

FB: ForensicSpeak

Today Jennifer is giving away a copy of Forensic Speak to one commenter. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.

Buy your own copy here.

 Crime stories have always intrigued viewers and storytellers. Today, crime shows rule the airwaves and there is truly a procedural drama out there for every personality — and every writer. Born out of the author’s real-life experiences growing up around death investigation, Forensic Speak unlocks the secrets of forensic science for writers and fans alike. With a filmography of 100 film and TV examples and 80 additional resources, the book provides writers direct access to hundred of ways to make their crime writing more authentic.


  1. Welcome, Jennifer! Wow, what a great, informative post! Inspiring as well. Thanks so much for sharing!

    I think the one that resonated with me most was Rome Wasn't Built in a Day. I need some patience as well as more of a plan. Love the huge sticky note idea! :)

  2. Hi Jennifer, thank you for the great post. It's one to print out and put in my Keeper book.

    I would agree with Missy that "Rome Wasn't Built in a Day" is one that hit home with me. When I was younger I had a lot more patience then I do now. I am working hard at trying to be more patient but it's not easy.

    I love suspense/crime dramas pn TV, film and books and I have a current WIP that is in that genre but I have hit some snags in my planning. I would LOVE to win a copy of your book Forensic Speak. Thank you for the opportunity.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  3. Wow!!! Great article. I love it and those points are so true. I feel them all.
    Very cool info too. Thanks!

  4. Wow!!! Great article. I love it and those points are so true. I feel them all.
    Very cool info too. Thanks!

  5. What a chock-full post of important stuff. Jennifer, thank you for all of the points you brought up. Wow, I'm happy to see what I'm doing right, but even happier to notice where I've been slipping....

    I love the Renaissance Writer ideas, they fit my mindset although my reality if upstate farm girl, more medieval than Renaissance, LOL! But that's okay, the sharing, and trying new things: LOVE IT!!!!

  6. Coffee is here, my friends! Let's rock and roll and see what Jennifer's advice and wisdom means to us as individuals... kinda like a good cup o' joe!

  7. Hi Jennifer, welcome to Seekerville. Thanks for the encouraging post. I'm following you on Twitter now. Have a great day!

  8. WELCOME!!!

    Many of you had the opportunity to hear Jennifer speak last year at ACFW!

    Jennifer what's your schedule for this year?

  9. I find it hard to pick one point.
    But I am learning that living well and not being a cave dweller are something that I am moving toward in this season of writing.

  10. Wow, Jennifer, your post could apply to anyone's search to success.

    You said (I'm paraphrasing here): keep in touch, followup, congratulate people, share good news, help others, don't take it personally, never burn bridges.

    I'm going to make that into a placque and hang it in my writing nook.

    Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom.

  11. Number 3 sticks with me. Networking. When I attend the ACFW conference, I talk to writers and love it. There are certain writers I'm afraid to approach and talk to. I lean over to my friends and gush. "Look it's so and so. I love her writing." I need to be more forward, but I'm the person who stands on the outside of the crowd and sits in the pew at the end closest to the exit. I really need to conquer this.
    On another note, Jennifer, I took your continuing session class at last year's ACFW conference in St. Louis, which I loved by the way, and won a copy of Forensic Speaks. Great user-friendly book. Thank you and God bless.

  12. Jennifer, thank you for sharing this great information and good advice on putting oneself out there.

    Keeping in touch with the contacts one makes along the way is important—hard to do sometimes, but important.

    I wish it wasn't so, but the business end of writing takes more time than writing the MS. :-\

  13. Thank you, Jennifer!
    The rubric for success in film and TV isn't that different from the one for novel writing. My crit partner pushed me to read "Save the Cat" and I found it helpful for a writer of book-length fiction.
    I like the admonition to "live well." It's easy to get caught up in the discipline we need to Make This Happen, or to let a rejection or setback affect the rest of our life. It is a matter of balance.
    I love to read police procedurals and am hooked on "Forever," the ABC show about the medical examiner. But I know I don't have the background to do one myself. Please enter me in the drawing.
    Kathy Bailey

  14. Hi Jennifer!

    I love your post and advice. I really love this line: Keeping a deathbed perspective. It can apply to every aspect of your life!

  15. Jennifer!

    Fab info and agree with several others - definitely a keeper. :)

    Thanks for a glimpse into Hollywood. Definitely a mission field. Have you met the fine folks with http://www.mastermediaintl.org ? Probably but if not, sounds like you and your husband would fit right in! My cousin and her husband are involved (both are in your industry) and they are having a real impact for Christ.

    Thank you for answering the call to serve!

    Which one of your points? SO BUSTED on living the island life... /sigh/ I LIKE my island at the end of a dead end road thankyouverymuch. ;)

    Really. Excellent points here. Congratulations on your overnight successes. Keep 'em up!

  16. Welcome to Seekerville, Jennifer. Loved your thoughtful post! So much to think about that will impact not only my writing but my life. Thank you!


  17. Jennifer, what a fabulous post! I loved all your points. I think the two that resonated with me were that Rome wasn't built in a day. It takes time to build anything worthwhile. Including a writing career. I love the idea of posting my goals where I'm going to see them every day and be challenged to move toward meeting them.

    The second one I loved was about being a Renaissance writer. the story you shared about the artist spoke to me. It's easy to get caught up in my own life. This man engaged in the world around him, and let it mold his art. This can be a beneficial thing for a writer too. :)

    This is a print-out post! Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Jennifer!

  18. Tina, we're going to get you out of that cave eventually! ;)

  19. Kelly B, I do the same thing! I need to be more bold.

  20. Okay Jennifer, I must admit I was surprised to see what a beautiful young lady you are. With all that knowledge and experience I was picturing a much older lady.

    Frankly I'm exhausted.

    Don't quit your day job. My husband and I were just talking about this yesterday.

    Thanks for the great pointers. This is a keeper post.

  21. Great advice!

    Please enter me for a copy of your book

  22. Now I want to research Armand and find that piece about him! :)

    I really appreciated your points on networking and being a renaissance writer. I'm naturally more of an introvert, too, and content in the Midwest. I need to stretch myself and my writing! So glad I found Seekerville to get me thinking and going again :)

    I'd love to win your book! It sounds really interesting! I'm considering how to turn topics like forensics, writer's block, etc., into children's stories, so your book would be great for making sure I get the details right. It's been a few years since my college forensics class...

    Jennifer, what shows have you written for?

  23. Hi Jennifer, What a great post and I so relate to life in LA since I lived there during high school and college years. I laughed at your good points versus negativities. So true. We were blessed to live on the beach so that part was really fun.

    I really like your points and look forward to seeing one of your movies. smile. Screenwriting is a great aide to novel writing. You are blessed to come from screen to novel as you already know story arc and active writing. Yay.

    Thanks for joining us today. Have a great day.

  24. Welcome, Jennifer.

    Elaine, I find that so many of the things that are great for writers, pertain well to life. The one I need to cultivate is to keep up with friends.

    Sandra, do you want to help me get TINA out of her cave for an hour or so?

  25. So glad to have you with us today, Jennifer! And such truth here--thank you!

    I personally relate to your opening line, "An overnight success takes ten years." In my case it was more like 25 years. That's how long it took between my first short story sale to a magazine and my first published novel. And boy, did I learn a lot over those 25 years! Truly, no experience is wasted, and there's always more to learn.

  26. Good morning, Jennifer! I was in your session at ACFW last September, and it was fantastic! I still smile over your story of the college guys staying in the basement and finding the refrigerator full of samples your father had collected. :-) Please put me in the drawing, and thank you for your post. I'm going to print it out for future encouragement. I appreciate that you admit coming up with three conversation-starting questions. I'll admit I've done that, but then I get so flustered that I can't remember them!

  27. Jennifer,

    I didn't have the foresight to sign up for your session at conference last year, but I heard a lot of buzz about it. Will you be offering it again?

    I've written a series of murder mysteries, so would benefit from it. The best things I have going for me are having a daughter who teaches A&P and a son who is a cop--and who don't mind answering Mom's weird questions. :)

    Enjoyed your post!

    Now back to spring cleaning. It's killing me.

  28. Hi Jennifer, great post, I enjoyed reading what Hollywood has taught you. I grew up in Long Beach so I understand life in southern California. Driving into LA was always such an adventure.

  29. Good morning, Jennifer.

    I love everything about this post. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise and your experience with us today.

    Bravo to you for setting out after your dream and sticking to it, even when it's tough. I'm visiting with my daughter in Maine right now. She moved here away from family, so I know how hard it can be when you're missing the loved ones you left behind. I'm glad you and your husband are happy in warm, sunny CA.

    I've been meaning to check out your info since I write suspense for Love Inspired Suspense. Getting the forensics wrong is something that scares me. Please count me in for the drawing, but I'll be heading over to your website for sure.

    I can't say any one of your points resonated more than any other, but I do have a question for you.

    Is there anything you see that writers regularly get wrong?

    I worked for a major movie/TV company for years and saw the "correct way" sacrificed too often for what made better story. That leaves me wary that too many years of watching crime dramas might have me making amateurish mistakes.

    Thanks again for stopping by.

  30. What resonates with me: live well and don't get stuck on the island.

    I'm not good at getting off the little island I've created for myself and I wish to live well - though I'm not sure if I'm succeeding right now.

    My husband loves all the forensic programming available. I enjoy it too, so I'd love my name to be in the draw for the book. I think both of us would enjoy it.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful post with Seekerville. This is a read repeatedly post. All good life advice. THANKS!

  31. Deb H, I agree... We've got to avoid the getting stuck thing, and we've got paddles and oars to help folks get off that island! We aim to please!

    Mary Curry, that's interesting... To sacrifice truth for drama isn't something we're supposed to be able to get away with, and yet TV does it often. 'Sup wi' dat????

  32. Very interesting post, Jennifer. I think the writing slump is one of my biggest demons, and anything that requires me to get out there around people.

    I love reading and watching crime and suspense stories, but I don't write them, so don't put me in the drawing for your book. It should go to someone who writes crime and suspense. It sound very interesting, though.

    Good luck with your career in Hollywood.

  33. Marianne and Elaine, I agree 100%. A lot of self-help or writers' guidelines are the same things we can apply to daily living or any job... especially anyplace where you're the entrepreneur or the small business owner. But even if you're not, these are such good, basic facets.

    You two are too smart!

    I brought Easter chocolate because I don't need to eat it all. That would be B-A-D.

  34. Jennifer, loved your workshop at ACFW! Such great information. Also loved your own story of living with an ME dad!

    Your personal story could be a TV sit-com/drama. I'm seeing it...

    You write it. Okay?

    Rome wasn't built in a day! So true. Something I need to remember when there's a bump in the road. Just leave my foot on the accelerator and keep moving forward.

    BTW, I live in GA and lots of movie studios are moving to my area of the country. Pinewood is about 7 miles away and huge! So if you get tired of the LA smog, head to the Southeast! We'll welcome you with open arms.

  35. Hi Jennifer! Thanks for sharing your view on life and writing. Your post today inspired me in a lot of ways to stretch myself.

    I tend to be a loaner and expect that may be fairly common with other writers, especially guys. As such it's easy to get stuck on the island and also to get discouraged.

    Think I will stop and assess accomplishments and write down some goals.

    Take care and thanks again for sharing with all of us.

  36. LOL, Connie Q! I thought the same thing when I saw her photo! :)

  37. Mary Curry, I'm so glad you're getting to visit with your daughter!

  38. Thank you, Jennifer, for the salient points. Point 4 is my favorite. We should stop to enjoy the journey as well as the destination! I would love to have your forensic book as I am hoping to continue on in the suspense genre.

  39. Mark, that's so true. I think it's really important to stay connected, and online seems to be the easiest way to do that. I can't imagine writing back before the Internet!

  40. Jennifer, I am so intrigued by your career, and all of your points in this blog are so solid, I can't just pick one to gush about. Thank you so much for your time today, and as an aspiring mystery writer, I'd love to win a copy of your book!

  41. My grandma was wise, huh? :) But patience is so hard to learn!

    Thanks for all your great comments ladies!

    I'm a farm girl, too, which is why LA is such a challenge. But you can't beat the diversity of foods and the ocean!

  42. Yes, I spoke at ACFW in 2014. Going to try to attend the 2015 conference -all depending on my schedule. Not slated to speak, however. I'm doing very minimal speaking this year and focusing more on writing.

    I just finished a feature to be shot in August/September. I'm also penning a crime drama TV pilot with a production company here in LA that plans to shop it around as soon as I'm done! Deadline looming!

    I'm also taking some meetings here in town to try to get staffed on a TV show. Fingers crossed!

    And my lit agent is anxious waiting for my novel... I finished the first draft and scrapped it! It was my first attempt. Ugh.... this writing stuff is hard! Haha!

  43. Amen to Mary Hick's comment about the business part taking longer than the writing part! So true, Mary!!!

  44. I love FOREVER, too! It's a really fun show. I'm also hooked on the new CW show, iZombie. I'm a huge Rob Thomas fan. I wish I had more time to view and to read, but I'm too busy trying to Live Well... which means balancing my media intake... although I can get away with a little more in the name of "research"! :)

  45. Rose.... yes, keeping a death bed perspective seems morbid, but when you grow up around death you never want to any minute of your life for granted. Finding joy in each moment, each day, no matter what God brings you is to Live Well. (I'm by no means perfect at this, by the way!)

  46. Debbie.... when can I move in! Haha! I love GA and my sister lives near Atlanta. I wish.... I'm actually penning a TV pilot right now that's inspired by my childhood.

    We're pitching to Hallmark and some others and hope it gets picked up. Working title: The Coroner's Daughter... stay tuned!!!

  47. Mary Curry.... great question... I actually have a whole 2 hour seminar on when to fabricate and when to authenticate forensics in crime drama....

    There are really good reasons for some of the most common "errors". One of the biggies is pushing up the time frames on investigations... for instance, in real life, takes weeks to get toxicology results back. On TV (reel life) they get them in seconds or minutes because we only have 42 minutes for an hour drama to get all the story in... it's really tricky.

    Another infraction is the "sexy investigator"... no real investigator in their right mind would show up to a crime scene in heels and a pencil skirt. :) But on TV, audiences want their actors to look great. In real life an investigator would come in grubby clothes and a protect themselves with a bunny suit, goggles, masks, and hair protection.

    I could go on and on.... :)

  48. Helen Gray... you have two very good resources there! You're doing fine! :)

  49. Myra, I love what you said about no experience being wasted. So true! And I've also found that no relationship is ever wasted either... what a tapestry God is weaving of our lives! And now you are all a part of mine and each other's... how cool is that?!

  50. Hint: my favorite way to get out of the cave is to invite someone to lunch or coffee.... :)

  51. Connie Queen.... I'm exhausted, too! Haha, you make me laugh. Hang in there, girl!

  52. Yes. I agree. You have to force yourself out of the cave. Meeting Villager Marianne for breakfast doin.

  53. Sarah, yay for the Midwest. I'm originally from northern MI and still go there often.

    I'm still waiting for that "big break" to write for a show. It's a VERY long and competitive road. It takes most writers an average of 6-10 years to break in. It's also very political... you have to know someone, be recommended... I've been close and have some upcoming meetings for potential a potential staff writer job.

    In the meantime, I've developing other projects and my own TV shows... I'd love to be a staff writer, but it would be even more awesome to have my own show! Fingers crossed!

  54. Thanks all for the kind comments on my photo... I am old - haha-- but isn't photoshop GREAT! :)

  55. Hi Jennifer, I'm torn between networking and cave dwelling. Both are strong indicators of my introverted personality. Oh, how I wish I was an extrovert! Thanks for sharing, there are some great tips here I'll try to utilize.

    And by the way, that is a great photo!

  56. Embrace the introvert! We get more writing done! :) Just set small goals at first. It'll grow from there if you keep practicing. I promise!

  57. Great article. Thanks for sharing, Jennifer. Several resonated with me but the one I know I need work on is the entrepreneurial aspect. Any suggestions on great books, videos, etc... for this area? Thanks again! Blessings, Leanna

  58. Thanks for an encouraging post Jennifer. I'm reading a great book for introverts...Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. It's been quite helpful!

    Wondering what you mean by "Become a Renaissance Writer." What does that mean? Maybe I'm just not familiar with a term others are using...but would love to know more about what this looks like.

    Hoping to get to hear you speak one of these days!

    Thanks...and oh, I'd love to be entered to win your book!

  59. Hi Jennifer. Wonderful insights!

    Regarding finding a job I enjoy, I'm in big trouble. I'm facing a big birthday this year, and I still haven't decided what I want to be when I grow up. Jack of all Trades and Master of None. Thinking that's my gift - versatility.

  60. Leeanna,
    I'm starting to listen to this podcast called Young Entrepreneurs Lifestyle... don't let the title scare you. The info is really good, but be warned it can contain some language... it's run by a 20-something who's trying desperately to be "hip", but he interviews some really top notch biz people!

    I read various articles and blogs from folks in my industry.

    I do a lot of talking with my friends in the industry to see what they're doing and gain tips from them.

    I talk to my accountant.

    MWP.com is a publisher for the entertainment industry who has a VAST amount of resources for artists.. especially on selling and marketing yourself and your writing. Since I'm also published with them, I talk directly to some of the more successful authors and have gotten great ideas from them. They have really mentored me.

    I've consulted some with folks here in LA who run social media businesses focused on artists in entertainment... I'm considering getting some career consulting in this area. I think it's worth the small investment.

    This is all over the course of the last 8 years... it's a culmination of information and experimentation. ANd I'm still learning so much and trying new things as time allows.

    I don't allow myself to put undo pressure on myself in this area.

  61. Lyndee, Harper Lee (To Kill A Mockingbird) just published her 2nd book and she's in her 80s... forget age... :) Write on!

  62. Kathryn, I've been wanting to read that book! I'm a strong believer in knowing how to work with your personality type. It's really helped me tap into my strengths. I also love Strength Finders!

    A Renaissance person is simply one who takes advantage of the world around them to become as knowledgeable and skilled in many areas. A Renaissance person strives to live a well-rounded life.

    A Renaissance artists masters their art and keeps going, trying new forms, new types of writing... just for the challenge of it.

    A Renaissance person never stops learning and trying and exploring and creating and playing and soaking up life.

    A Renaissance person is a curious person.

  63. Not doin. Soon. Oh that predictive typing.

  64. Well, sometime you need to be teaching at Writer's Police Academy!


  65. Dear Jennifer,
    Wonderful post today. It was great to meet you at ACFW in last year. I also live in Southern California so I love your insights about keeping grounded. I like the goal sheets on the wall; I used this to complete my first novel and am getting the inclination to set new goals beyond connecting with the right agent and publisher. I also love your thoughts about branding. I worked with a coach to breathe new perspective into mine and combine life experience with expertise in a witty, understandable fashion. My husband is so good at keeping singular focus on the goal that is set, so I'm grateful for his help too. And for Seekerville, for encouragement like this here! Do you ever come to San Diego?

  66. HI Elizabeth! Good to hear from you! I'll go anywhere. I love San Diego! :)

  67. Hi, Jennifer! This post is filled with great tips no matter what field one is in. Thank you so much for sharing!

  68. Jennifer, I'm so sorry I'm late to the party! I loved all of the tips, but the two that resonated most to me are #1 and #9.

    I'm learning to "Live Well" by making a conscious effort to take care of myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

    "Don't Quit Your Day Job" is one tip I may not like, but I know the truth in it. I teach middle school. Most days I love my job, but sometimes it can be so draining. I'd love nothing better than to be a full time writer, but I only have seven more years until I can retire with full benefits. It also gives me seven years to get published and build up my writing career, so I will have it to supplement my retirement.

  69. Jennifer, thanks for giving us a glimpse of life in Hollywood!

    I think I connected most with #3. Please enter me.

  70. So much wonderful information here! Thank you Jennifer for your encouragement! I loved your points on slaying the writing slumps and also Rome wasn't built in a day. I especially like the idea of mission statements and looking back. It is easy to miss that we are growing and also miss if we aren't if we don't take the time to evaluate.
    Okay...I have to add another. I am really learning to stretch and network. Painful at times, but it is also so rewarding! Thank you so much for taking the time to visit and share so much!

  71. I'm so grateful I could share my (often rocky) journey with everyone. What's the use of struggle if we can't use it to encourage others, right?

  72. To May the K9 Spy... yes, I have heard of master media international... they do great work!
    and yes, I love island life too!

  73. Jennifer, Thank you for a fun post to read. I enjoyed all of your points, but I got a lot out of number 6. When I first tried writing, I was in my little library island and didn't learn anything. This time, I've found great writers who are willing to give up their time and critique and help new writers. Number 6 tied back a lot to number 3 (networking) and both have been valuable to me. Thanks for presenting all of this.

  74. Thanks again, Jennifer, for the added info. Appreciate it. Will check out the videos. To me, it all boils down to just keep learning. Blessings!

  75. Oops, meant podcast, not video. Sorry!

  76. JENNIFER!!! I am SO frustrated because I had a reallllly long comment that I wrote to you, but my computer locked up and I lost it all, then had to run out the door.

    But let me just say that it's no surprise you teach seminars after reading this blog -- it is FABULOUS, and there were soooo many points (I had like five) that you triggered responses from me on, so I am bummed.

    The #1 point that I remember the most was your statement as follows: "Keeping a deathbed perspective."

    WOW, WOW, WOW!!! That is sooooo true, and if more of us did that in everything we do, the world would be a kinder, better place to live.

    Thank you for your powerful insight, and you inspire me greatly!


  77. Thanks for sharing - that was a great post.
    I identify with "Rome wasn't built in a "It should've been!"
    Would love to win a copy of your book!

  78. So many great thoughts on living and writing. Although I was unable to attend, I heard you speak at ACFW, via the MP3 I purchased later. I'd love to read your book.

  79. Thank you Jennifer for answering my question about a Renaissance person....very thoughtful and helpful! I'll look for Strength Finders!

    We have rain in Northern California and we are grateful! We want out of this drought!

    Have a tea-lightful week!

  80. julie... thank you! very encouraging! write on! live on!

  81. yes, Kathryn, we had rain in So Cal yesterday.. a nice soaking but not enough to make a dent in this drought. pray for rain!!!

  82. Jennifer thanks for your post. I love my day job. I have crawled off my island and have recently discovered this site.
    I have written a lot of scripts for church. Does anyone know if there's a market for that?

  83. Wow. Thanks Jennifer! That was inspiring, interesting, and just makes me want to move to LA and become a screenwriter! I liked the point you made that "Networking is not a bad word." I find the idea of putting myself out there and trying to make connections unnatural, and it forces me to step out of my comfort zone. I have a friend who works for HBO. Maybe I'll try it out on her :)

  84. Excellent post, Jennifer! Thanks so much for visiting and for the giveaway! :)

  85. Thank you for an interesting post and giveaway!

  86. Love, love, love this post! I especially love #3 because it's something I've been trying to work on (wish I knew what her ice breaker questions were) and the one about Rome as it's taken me ten years to become a published novelist!