Screenwriting : Why do writers get so little respect from people? by Zorrawa Emily Ann Jefferson

Why do writers get so little respect from people?

In addition to low pay everyone instantly thinks your broke and struggling if you do write for a living. When a few people in my family found out I was trying to start a career in screenwriting they told me how impossible it was, how I have no chance, and I should get a real job. I was told that I wouldn't be able to do so much stuff. I eventually was able to do stuff that folks told me I couldn't, while writing, and I'm pretty sure I surprised a lot of people when they found out I was still able to get credit cards and loans despite not having a real job, but  it's the fact that writers get little to no respect from people.  People either think your broke,  you are a thief, or  a idiot  chasing a impossible dream. I've even saw woman on dating sites say they probably wouldn't date a writer because he's probably broke and can't pay for dates.

So,  where did the notion come from that writers are poor, dumb, lazy,  or dreamers?

Stephen Floyd

Because the act of reading takes relatively little time and effort. The uninitiated think writing is equally as simple.

M L.

The barrier for entry to being a professional anything in film or TV is hysterically high. You'll get an eyeroll no matter what position you're going after. Writer, actor, producer. Doesn't matter.

Jean Buschmann

It's interesting that authors get a lot of respect, but screenwriters remain in the taken-for-granted shadows. Stephen is right, it's mainly because people think anyone with a keyboard can write. But, of course, typing and writing are not the same thing. Writing also involves an intuitive level of intelligence - which is not tangible to purely left-brain/analytical thinkers. Yet, many studies, (including recent ones), show that intuitive intelligence is actually the highest form of intelligence, since it's expansive and adaptable.

I think the other reason screenwriters don't get more respect is because of all the low caliber films that get produced. I've read, heard, and experienced how nearly all Hollywood execs, dev, people, producers and readers alike first aspired to be writers. Which explains why so many like to put their hands in the proverbial pie. Some suggest that's the reason why so many pies wind up half-baked.

There was a time when writers' and directors' visions were respected and honored - that bygone era produced many a classic film. Today, unless you go indy, it's very unlikely that you'll ever see your vision for a script produced. It will likely get re-written (multiple times) since the fear-ridden/profit-driven people at the top are risk-averse. .

So that makes most working screenwriters re-writers-for-hire, aka hacks. NOT that there's anything wrong with that, but it tends to not garner the respect that being a visionary (in any artistic field) naturally would and should.

P.S. - I'm not suggesting that re-writers should be demeaned or disrepected, or that they don't have a purpose and/or a specific talent. I'm just answering the question posed by this thread. Right or wrong, that is one of the reasons why some people don't show proper respect to the art and craft that is screenwriting. And for the record, my freelance agency is actually called writer-for-hire, since I do that for a living. Not for screenplays but for all other forms of writing. So I'd be insulting myself if I thought such writing did not involve a specific skill and talent. :)

Alicia Norman

I think part of it is the idea that it is easy to do, and the other related to envy. Despite thinking it is easy people also, somehow, still nod at the idea it takes talent, so there is this kind of jealous thing, an automatic "they think they ar better" knee jerk desire to take a writer down a peg. It's the same with most creatives. I know quite a few actors and singers who, on the entry-level, e.g., background artists, character actors, theatre actors, etc., who get the same stuff.

Jean Buschmann

That's sad but true too, Alicia. I call it the scarcity principle - when people fear that someone else's success is somehow a threat to them - erroneously perceiving it as an indictment of their own lack of ambition or talent. But, of course, the reality is that there is enough to go around. (Be it success, talent, beauty, praise, or friendship.) Those that get that give freely and live expansively, those that don't hoard and withhold everything from everyone - attention, affection, praise, kindness, appreciation, love, and respect. Ultimately, such people are to be pitied because they are miserable and, as the saying goes, misery loves company - so they try to spread it. RUN, don't walk away, from such people. You can still love them and wish them well...from a healthy distance. I learned that one the loOong and hard way. In fact, I'm still learning it. But I know now that boundaries are a good thing, and frenemies are far worse than enemies. It's so much better to know someone doesn't like you than to think they do, let your guard down, and find a knife in your back. NOT fun. So again, RUN, don't walk away. (Pigs and pearls.)

Jean Buschmann

I don't disagree that re-writes are necessary, Kay. I'm merely stating that there is a difference between a person who aims at creating something according to their vision and one who is commissioned to create something according to someone else's vision. Not everyone aspires to do the latter, and that's perfetctly okay. I will choose to not take offense if you disagree. We are each entitled to our own opinions and passions. And I do know that passionate people often take things personally when they are not meant to be, so let's make this about painting, not screenwriting, for a moment.

When Michelangelo was commissioned to paint the Sistene Chapel, he was at constant odds with the church over some of his choices. Yet, since the church was his paying client, he was forced to succumb to their demands in some instances. Although he outright refused in other instances and managed to rebel in famously clever ways. So he becomes a prime example of both art and commissioned art. But the point is that when he worked on his own art, for art's sake, without it being commissioned, he had every right to create exactly what he envisioned, critics be damned.

Of course, he was such a visionary and talent that even his commissioned works (like his sculpture of David and The Sistene Chapel) are considered masterpieces. Yet in his case, ironically, and despite his proven mastery of art and form, he was constantly constrained by the demands of people with no such talent or mastery. Demands which had he readily succumbed to, would have deprived the world of his vision. - So there is space and a place for both screenwriters and writer/directors who want to maintain creative control over their unique visions and expression without having to compromise. Yet, at times they too will subject themselves to multiple rewrites to attain that vision, and wisely choose to listen to feedback that they value and trust. There is nothing wrong with either choice, but they are not the same.

Alicia Norman

Jean Buschmann "But, of course, the reality is that there is enough to go around. (Be it success, talent, beauty, praise, or friendship.) Those that get that give freely and live expansively, those that don't hoard and withhold everything from everyone - attention, affection, praise, kindness, appreciation, love, and respect..." Preach! You are so right about Toxic folks, had a few in my family and yes, learned the hard way to love from afar... mostly tolerated on Holidays now lol...

Michael L. Burris

A writer is in their own world. Relatability sometimes totally leaves us and when you try to discuss with those not in such world you just have to expect them to look at you like you are an alien. I think my greatest criticizer (my dad) validated me so much when he realized I was indeed displaced so to speak getting so pissed at my parallel thinking. This shouldn't feed an ego or believing in any way you are superior though. Getting those closest to you to understand shouldn't be an industry door you are trying to break-in to. Even at my mid-forties age I know that I have hard time wondering why they don't accept my ideas. That's not their job or function.

You chose your world but don't alienate them completely. They do inspire. I guess you can look at me as a screenwriter dad so to speak. They wonder why I formulate and talk out loud reinforcing idea's sometimes just to myself as though I'm trying to impress them when in reality I'm trying to impress myself. The world you chose to be in is extremely difficult because it drives you my dear.

Beth Fox Heisinger

From my experience as a studio artist and art enthusiast, it’s rather the opposite. People love artists and art. Art is celebrated. Sought after. The issue often lies in those who do not understand art, and that it often doesn’t pay well. Lol! At least until it does, then it pays big. Perhaps it’s where you live? Who you are surrounded by? Seek out healthier, positive environments. Remove toxic people from your life. If possible, live where there are creative communities and opportunities. Where I am living currently, we have a ton of local artists and writers and directors, etc. About respect, like inspiration it comes from within. Respect yourself, respect others, and expect it in kind. ;)

Dan MaxXx

Make new friends. Attend Austin Film Festival. They treat writers like rock stars there.

Jean Buschmann

Thank you. You just proved my point. Anyone with vision should become a writer/director, aka indy filmmaker, and not expect a profit-driven business model to reward art. (As a general rule anyway, but of course there are some exceptions.). I actually could not agree more that those new to screenwriting should face this reality, and the sooner the better. Because there is a cottage industry of dream pedlars out there (and NO I'm NOT talking about Stage 32, InkTip, and several noble others, so please don't get it twisted). But there definitely are many sharks in the water, and those in willful denial are bound to get bitten, if not eaten for lunch. So I recommend being a realistic optimist - not a cynic, but also not delusional, hopelessly naive, or blind. BTW - I've been all of the above at some point in life, like everyone else who'll admit it. Which is why I can say with confidence that BALANCE is always the best approach to everything. But hey, to each his own. I've got no ax to grind, or need to be right. Just tryin' to share some hard learned lessons that'll surely spare others some very real disappointment. The kind that all too often makes people abandon their dreams prematurely, or nurse their pain with very unhealthy habits or substances. I've met many such souls. So I can't help thinking that had they been realistic and optimistic they would have fared much better in life. It's that long fall from the cliff of great (and completely unrealistic) expectations that kills people - mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and even physically at times. And that's just sad, and in my mind unnecessary. But maybe that's just the optimist in me.

Alicia Norman

Beth is right to an extent. I live in GA where if you say "I am a writer" they ask what do you do as a real job. I experienced a culture shock when I went to California and people acted like being a writer was one of the best things in the world. At a party people even talked to me and wanted to know my ideas. It was eye-opening. Anyone in that environment is very lucky to have such solid support and it can be taken for granted that everyone has that or that is is easy or simple to find. Being married with kiddos I wouldn't be able to uproot to another state simply to get kudos or to feel accepted. Too many lives to look after. Honestly, I feel like I am drowning here. I live in very conservative burbs--lots of cops, blue color workers who look at me like I am an alien. conversations tend to go no where fast so I keep to myself and people regard me as a snob. Honestly, I'd give anything to have one friend who gets and understands me. I have felt alienated and yes, even suicidal (tried twice). I suffer from CPTSD and autoimmune disorders, so, to keep sane, I spend 99 percent of my time at home-writing and animating. It's not about feeling superior, it's more about feeling unwanted, alone, and being self-protective.

Alicia Norman

CJ Walley indeed--worked with a producer I thought had m back but when it came time from rising in the ranks, tried to steal my ideas to sell to Netflix. When I balked he was like "You're not even named writer, take what you can get" which was $500 dollars for the sizzle reel script while he kept all the rights to the actual story.

Craig D Griffiths

An average person know 3 facts about a topic/industry that they have normal internet in.

So if we have to name sofa drinks, people say Coke, Pepsi and 7up. If they think harder they can name more.

So when they are asked about a film, they can name, Genre, Stars and maybe Director.

So we need to know that we are back room. Since our name cannot drive box officer, we do not have to be kept happy to maintain the profit.

Jean Buschmann

Alicia, I just sent you a private message. - Hugs

Alicia Norman

Thank you, Jean. You are a beautiful spirit.

Steve Sherman

Probably the same place being a horse trainer came from. Father asks his son what do you want to be when you grow up? Son says, I want to be a bum. Dads says, why don't you become a horse trainer? Son says, I don't want be that big of bum.

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