Screenwriter Alvaro Rodriguez
Screenwriter Alvaro Rodriguez

Thanks to Master Cat! Alvaro Rodriguez , who will be leading a Beat Sheet Workshop in San Antonio on July 30-31, for this advice on creating your own Dream Team:

Writers are lonely.

We’re shy, needy, driven to distraction, full of grandiose ideas and hopelessly creative, extroverted, reclusive, irritable, joyful, marginalized, and common. Like Walt Whitman, we are cameras and we are the cosmos. But mostly, we’re lonely.

Would you sit down next to us and listen to a story? It’s right here in our heads, or on this ream of paper, or shining up from our iPads. Would you like to read it? We promise it’ll be good.

That’s what we’re looking for, whether we come right out and say it or not. We’re looking for an audience. We’re looking for validation, yes… but we’re also looking for insight.

Or, when we’re stuck, we’re looking to spend time with others who have walked the same path. We’re looking for inspiration and spark, hunting for an infusion of magic and synchronicity. Maybe we can even give some in return.

So we begin to build our Rolodex. We build it all the time. Collecting names and faces for our files.

This guy’s got a good sense of story.

She knows dialogue that feels so real it has a smell.

He understands theme with an uncanny, cut-through-the-bull clarity.

She’s got the brain that can see the Big Picture even when it struggles to coalesce on the pages.

This is my team, the go-to café society I can swim with and return to work feeling refreshed and inspired.

If you’re new to the game, it might seem difficult to put together a winning roster. Writers can spend years feeling isolated and separate from the creative dynamic of interaction with other writers.

Even if you can’t share the same physical space, and you’re not in Los Angeles, you can still draw from the well of smart, talented writers who are looking for the same things you are: an audience, validation, insight, experience.

Seek them out. Put yourself in a position to find them more readily. Join a writers’ group and suss out the good screenwriters, the ones you can trust.

Take a writing workshop. The friends and allies I met in Blake Snyder’s beat sheet workshop three years ago continue to wow me with their insights and skills.

If you can swing it, come to Austin in October for the Austin Film Festival, an invaluable opportunity to learn and to network. Here you can meet writers, managers, agents, producers, and directors at all levels of experience and success in a come-as-you-are, casual setting and get a seat at the table with some of the best and brightest in the business.

Find your dream team. They’re out there, waiting and looking for someone like you. Build rapport and trust, and bring something to the table each time. Be open. Share what you know, and listen when you don’t. The rewards are ongoing.

Next week’s blog: The Caddyshack Beat Sheet