One of the biggest pieces of advice someone gave me a while back before going into the film industry as a writer is to try to have as many writing products readily available as possible.
Here's a likely scenario...
*(Executive, agent, producer, etc.) reads through your well-crafted screenplay, and nods in approval.* "Okay, so what else you got?"
*(Executive, agent, producer, etc.) gives you a funny look, waiting for you to respond...*
"That's all I have," is not even close to the ideal response! Are you dead in the water? No. Absolutely not; but you're only falling behind.
(DISCLAIMER: This is advice given to me based on experiences that aren't my own.)
I meant to write this posting months ago after I met up with a mentor/friend of mine. His name is Max Adams. Great guy. 2001 West Point Graduate. Iraq Veteran. He's on his way to making it in the film industry. He's definitely someone I aspire to be like.
One day in July, I sat down with Max for lunch in Santa Monica. I hadn't seen him for a while, so I was looking forward to seeing what he'd been up to lately. At the time he was in the middle of post-production for his film Precious Cargo, based on his thesis film he made back at Florida State University in 2008. I've known Max for years at this point (since 2006), and throughout that duration Max had sent me several of his screenplays; all of which were fun reads. As we were sitting there for lunch, Max and I were talking about what was the latest for each of these projects. To sum it up, they all varied from "awaiting pre-production to begin" to "sitting on his shelf collecting dust, even after being optioned." I followed up by asking what his expectations were of those screenplays and he likened his overall experience to being like a blacksmith with multiple rods in the fire. "Just put all the rods in the fire and check on them periodically." Not all of them will develop at the same time, so when one is complete, signed, etc. move on to the next one. Keep going.
Great piece of advice. Something I think about as I develop my own projects.
Because Max spent so much time writing on multiple projects (not all at once, mind you), he has so much working for him. As one person is looking at one screenplay, someone else entirely is committing to another screenplay, and so forth.
It just goes to show you how much effort it takes to be successful as a writer. Even if you have one screenplay optioned, it's not necessarily going to work out. Play it safe! Keep writing (or re-writing!)