Relationships.

This is a relationship based business. It’s not just about ideas, talent, or craft. Everyone has a big idea, lots of people have talent and understand the craft. It’s about people. How people connect, appreciate creative value and decide to work together.

Great ideas and projects come and go. Always. Don’t be attached to what was just announced. There will always be an idea like yours that came before, and there always be someone else with a similar idea. Originality comes from your expression of an idea and how timely and compelling it feels. If you work within a particular genre (advisable at the beginning of a career), get current with everything happening in your genre. Read everyone else working in the same space. Read the trades every day. Track which writers, producers and directors are doing which projects. Think about how your work, and specifically, how your “voice” is distinctive from everything else that’s been made, or is about to be made.

Within the context of your work, think about who you know and how you talk about what you’re working on, or, the kinds of things you like working on. What is your focus? Use you family and friends to help you define the simplest and best way to describe what you mostly do. Find a very simple way to describe what you write about and how you write it differently. For example, “I write contemporary dramas about characters who must create a family of choice (vs. their family of origin).” Or, “I write science fiction about characters who fight a system of injustice.”

Now that you have a focus to the kind of work you do put that focus and your energy into building a social system. Work on making 1 new business relationship every week. If you live here in LA, never pass on an opportunity to go out, go to events, be as social as you can. Proximity matters. If you don’t live in LA, move here. Connect the dots: Research who you want to be in business with and find out what they are doing and why. Find a way to ask them how they accomplished something very specific with their most recent work. When you meet someone think about what you can do for them. Help them see that you bring value to them (being additive) vs. just wanting something from them (being extractive). Follow up. When someone does something for you, send thank you emails or cards. Congratulate people on their accomplishments.

Think about all your relationships as a door to new relationships. Treat everyone with respect, always. You never know who knows someone that could be a gateway to your next level accomplishment.