To prospective Roadmap students,
My name is Darin Olson. I, like many of you, have aspirations of becoming a professional writer. To date, I have completed the various tracks of the CAREER WRITERS PROGRAM and have begun my first steps into the final phase TOP TIER. Looking back on my experience, I wanted to give my two cents on the lessons and guidance I have received along the way. (In hopes that some of you can be better prepared for the journey ahead) In this day and age of countless avenues claiming to “be the path that will break you into the business,” many writers have reservations into making investments into their futures because these programs make promises their asses can’t cash. ROADMAP WRITERS IS NOT THAT.
What I have loved most about my time with the Roadmap team is they make no promises, but they do have results. (126 writers signed at the time of this posting, and yes I know writers who have been signed through this) The reason for the success of the program has nothing to do with a magic trick or secret. The team at Roadmap truly cares about their writers and helping them find their unique path to success. They do this by carefully crafting a system that builds the tools every writer needs but seldom develop.
During the first “tier” of the program PITCH PREP, I immediately saw the value of the investment. But I preface this by saying, have scripts ready to go! Don’t leap into the program if this is your first script, hot off the press. This program doesn’t focus on improving the writing, but if you follow the program correctly, your writing WILL IMPROVE. How? You might ask. The answer is simple, by telling your stories to others. Pitching to most writers is the worst part of the job. It’s nerve-racking, and when I started the program, I WAS TERRIBLE AT IT! My first few pitches were robotic at best, my eyes bouncing between my audience and the scripted dialogue I had written on the screen. It was long, clunky, and didn’t do justice to the script I had spent months developing. But this is where my most valuable advice comes into play; you get out of this program what you put into it!
In between meetings with executives, I would take their advice and implement it into my pitch. Then, I would tell my story to anyone (and everyone) who would listen. Getting people to read your script is like pulling teeth, but when you say, “do you have five minutes, I want to tell you a story” people will listen. As I told this story over and over, not only did my pitching skills improve, so did my writing. Action description changed from wooden direction blueprints to a clean and concise conversation on the page. Plot points issues brought up in the verbal telling were addressed. I was becoming an all-around better writer. Within a month, I was demonstrating my pitch to the incoming pitch prep class. If I can do it, you can.
Once you move into phase two, the real work begins. Your script is looking good, so is your pitch (you’ve probably even been requested a few times) Here Roadmap did something unexpected, they turned the looking glass on me. Not my pitches, not my writing, me as a human being. Why did I write what I write? What journey and experiences had lead me to this point? And how did all these qualities make me a unique writer? This requires a different type of homework, self-reflection. Who am I? That is one of the toughest questions to answer. If done properly, not only will give you a unique brand that will make executives excited to meet you but will inform your writing. Themes, character, genre all tie back to the most basic and yet profound question of who you are as a human.
Lastly, through all of my experiences within the career writers program, my most important take away from this is to be a human first and a writer second. The expression may sound corny or cliche, but it’s true. This field is arguably the most collaborative and relationship dependent field on earth. No one can do it alone. Early on, get to know your peers in the program, some of them will become life long friends. The same goes for executives. They are people, just like us, coming to Roadmap to find creative soulmates. That journey can be long and arduous, so have fun along the way. Make friends, tell your stories, make fans of the worlds and characters you spent so long creating, and maybe along the way, you’ll find that kindred spirit. In truth, I think that’s what compels us to create, an existential reflection of that which we crave the most… human connection.