New screenwriters often begin their journey in the belief that solitude is a necessary, even desirable creative condition. Ironically, this impression often comes from the medium itself, where screenwriters are frequently depicted as neurotic, socially awkward and self-isolating.
The reality is that no one gets ahead without help, and the best help comes in the form of community. Screenwriters often do the bulk of their writing by themselves, but they succeed with the help of their networks. There are more aspirational screenwriters than ever before, and all of them are in search of communities where they can network, exchange notes, discuss the industry, and develop relationships.
This Community Guide surveys key community gateways where new writers can form lateral relationships with other emerging writers, as well as develop their brand in the public eye on social media.
The r/Screenwriting subreddit on Reddit.com boasts the largest number of subscribers, topping half a million members and growing every day. R/Screenwriting is also one of the oldest communities and includes an ever-increasing number of industry professionals.
As a new writer, r/Screenwriting is likely to be one of your first stops. In addition to acting as a clearinghouse for other communities, it provides broad creative and social support for its users.
The r/ Screenwriting community is best for:
r/Screenwriting is an invaluable resource for anyone wanting to get their feet wet, though like any online platform, it does suffer from a few drawbacks: it is a populist format, which means appealing content sometimes outperforms quality content. It is also an extremely large worldwide community, which can make it difficult to form relationships or connect with individual writers.
Discord is a chat platform originally developed for gamers, but has expanded into all forms of cooperative, interactive communities. Screenwriters Network was created by Alison Parker (Smish) in order to facilitate real-time community. Her moderated server of over 5,000 users is far more intimate, providing screenwriters with social participation they might not find elsewhere.
Screenwriters Network Discord is the place to go for:
The Screenwriters Network Discord Server is a very closely monitored community, and participation requires a certain amount of perception. It can be intimidating for a new user to integrate into this established community, but provided you follow the rules, don’t saturate the chat, and take cues from the veterans, the server can be incredibly rewarding.
Twitter presents some interesting opportunities for new writers. On one hand, it can seem as though professional name screenwriters are easier to access. On the other, that impression has the potential to be disabused either by the conduct or attitude of the writer in question, or the reality that many writers are on Twitter in order to socialize with their peers, not answer questions.
Your best strategy as a new writer on Twitter is to network horizontally. “Writer Twitter”, an informal and diverse network of cross-discipline writers actively promotes projects along network lines. Note that there is a lot of cross-over from places like Discord and Reddit – this is a great starting point if you’re new to the network.
The best way to use Twitter:
The dreaded real world. If you’re a writer who is serious about making a career for yourself, you need to know how to network. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to glad-hand your way through a crowd – instead, look for social situations that offer creative motivation and advancement. Some good options:
A Word About Adjacent Communities
For the purpose of this guide, adjacent community refers to any online community that is built specifically to complement a for-profit entity. These are not bad communities, but it’s important to be aware that pay-for-play services like the blcklst or ScreenCraft are not inherently community-driven. It might be advantageous to be a member of these communities, but a writer should consider that investment on a return from that service rather than a place to go looking for friends.
To that end, there are official and unofficial service communities on Facebook and elsewhere.
Community can mean the difference between failure and success, whether it’s cheerleading you all the way to the Austin semi-finals, or helping someone get to the end of their first draft. The best reward comes from being counted, and the best way to achieve that is by committing your support to your fellow writers.