Every Wednesday is Tip Day.
This Wednesday: Tips for succeeding as a TV writer in Hollywood.
My sister is getting married on Saturday, so in her honor, I’m posting a list of her tips about trying to make a successful career of TV writing. She didn’t actually formulate these as tips, but every once in a while over the last few years, she’s dropped one of these truisms—which I find so interesting that I’ve remembered them all.
1. “Every stereotype about L.A. is more true than you can possibly imagine.”
My sister once went into a meeting to pitch a TV shows about a bunch of teenagers at a boarding school where they’re trained to use magical powers. The executives at the meeting said, “We love it! We absolutely love it! But what about changing the teens to adults, and setting it on Wall Street?” Just like you read about.
2. “People succeed in groups.”
We all know the uncomfortable, competitive feelings that you can get when friends score a success—it can even feel like that their success makes your own success less likely. My sister’s motto is “People succeed in groups,” so good career news for a friend is good for her, too. Not only is this line true, it makes you a much nicer person.
3. “Good news comes right away; bad news never comes.”
This rule applies when you’re waiting to hear whether people liked an idea, a proposal, a draft, etc. If you don’t hear back pretty quick, they didn’t like it.
4. “You have to live in L.A. for three years before anything much happens.”
People told my sister this when she moved out there, and indeed, after she’d been there for three years, her career really picked up speed. This is largely because relationships are so important in L.A., and it takes about three years to work up a serious network.
5. “In a meeting, if someone asks if you want something to drink, say ‘yes.’”
This is a generally applicable tip about the use of power. If you want to read more about this rule, and why it’s true, check out my book, Power Money Fame Sex: A User’s Guide.
6. “Remember, the person you hire today might be hiring you tomorrow.”
The TV business is in constant flux, and there are abrupt shifts of fortune. You’d think that as a result, people would feel compelled to be nice to everyone else, out of pure self-interest if not altruism, but they don’t.