This one is for the poets, the writers, the musicians, the filmmakers, the actors, the dreamers...for anyone who has dreams of making a living in a competitive creative industry.
Let's all be really honest for a moment. Chances are, there are a lot of people trying to achieve the same thing that you are. Have you ever spent time in LA and ever casually asked someone else if they had a script? If you live or have ever lived in LA, you know the answer...everyone has one. Everyone wants to be a screenwriter, a movie star, a pop icon, the next Hans Zimmer... It's a crowded parking lot.
Many of your competition are quite talented, aren't they? They are smart, capable, and are trying to beat you out for prized opportunities. It can be pretty damned intimidating..
So, what can we do as creatives to set ourselves apart from the rest? One word with a big definition: Work.
Let me explain. For the purpose of clarity, let's take the popular dream of wanting to become a professional screenwriter, which, as I've mentioned earlier, is a very competitive industry.
It goes like this:
Everyone has an idea for a movie., yet small percentage of the would be population actually start, let alone finish putting it to paper. Of those that do, only a few will take the time to truly understand the craft of screenwriting, taking the time to think through what they are creating in it's fullness. Of that group, only a small percentage of them will write multiple drafts, get feedback, and hone the script into a tightly constructed film. Of the people who actually complete such a step, only a very small percentage of them repeat the same process on new ideas, writing script after script until their own true voice emerges. In that group, there are many who are content to just write and will never also make the effort to go to where the action is, like industry gatherings, submitting to contests, etc.
While that still leaves competition out there and doesn't by any means guarantee you a multi-millionaire making career, it does give you something that many in these kinds of industries don't actually often slow down to get. Real clarity into what it takes.
Doing the work means starting at the bottom and learning, doing the dirty work, applying consistent effort over a long period of time. For the first few years, people will usually politely brush you off. But something strange happens after you enter year three. People start to take you more seriously. They start realizing that you're here to stay and that you are deeply committed to the work. As the months and years and projects go on, you will find yourself slowly growing in the capability and community that you sought at the beginning. However, you will now be confident and competent in the execution of your craft.
At that moment, very special opportunities seem to magically reveal themselves. Only now, you are prepared to meet the new adventure head on as you continue to grow.
So, to quickly reiterate: How do you set yourself apart in a vastly competitive industry?
You get to fucking work.