Phil began his journalism career at Pace University as an assignment reporter. He started doing movie reviews after an interview fell through. The newspaper needed to fill the space so he offered to review My Favorite Year starring Peter O’Toole. The editor and read and then asked him to continue doing movie reviews because he was good at them.
From there, Phil began to do freelance articles for media outlets such as the New York Daily News. Phil has been writing for various media outlets ever since. In the film arena he writes for Cinema Craze, Film Snobbery, and Video Librarian.
Phil is also a financial writer who has written for National Mortgage Professional Magazine, and profit confidential. He also runs business-superstar.com which focuses on entrepreneurship and startups.
We covered a wide range of topics in this podcast. Phil stared writing tips and techniques for new writers covering a wide variety of topics.
- Don’t get pigeonholed.
- Be versatile.
- Write on different subjects and do different things. The wider your field of interest, the larger your audience.
- Know what you’re doing.
- Every writer needs an editor. You need a second pair of eyes to look at your stuff.
- One of the biggest problems with the Internet is that there’s very little quality control anymore.
- Get a writing mentor anyway you can.
- Teachers, published friends, and magazines that sell to your target market are in good place to look for mentors.
- Ask people what they think. Ask the world for what you want. Until you have the courage to ask you’ll never get anywhere.
- There are two types of criticism constructive criticism and mean-spirited criticism.
- Understand that constructive criticism is trying to make your work better. Do what you can to address it if you agree with the criticism.
- Mean -spirited criticism should be met with self-deprecating humor whenever possible. Otherwise, indifference is always a healthy response.
- Remember you can’t possibly please everyone.
- It’s important to be a team player whenever possible.
- Negative personalities destroy careers. If you go around acting like a prima donna your reputation will follow you everywhere and people who look reluctant to work with you.
- Read that type of stuff you want to write. If you want to be a science fiction author read science fiction. If you want to write short stories read for stories. If you want to write novels, read novels.
- Read widely. Read outside your genre or niche as well. Different authors and cultures have a different way of communicating with the written word.
- Poets and Writers Magazine is a good resource for those people looking to break into the publishing industry.
How to Become a Successful Writer
- Perseverance is the key.
- You have to believe in yourself and keep going. There is no such thing as an overnight success as a writer.
- As much as possible, maintain a positive attitude. The editor who rejected you today might buy the same story a year from now.
- The most important element in any story is a compelling characters. If you’re characters are compelling than your audience won’t care about them.
- The 1950 film Rashomon is a case study in how to create compelling characters.
Successful Writing Techniques
- When researching a subject be sure to use credible sources.
- Credible sources include traditionally published books, independently published books by known experts in the field, interviews are known experts in the field.
- Outline before you start drafting. It will help you organize your thoughts, and make your presentation more coherent.
- Rewriting is the most important stage of writing.
- Read your words aloud to see how they sound.
- Never be afraid to throw a draft out and start from scratch.
- Never be afraid to state your own opinion. Expressing your opinion your way is what makes your writing unique. Your audience will find you if you stay true to yourself.
- You have to be able to connect with people.
Healthy Working Habits for Writers
- Try to get up and move once an hour.
- it’s important to have an ergonomic desk.
- Stay hydrated.
- Your monitor should be at arm’s length, especially if you’re using a laptop. Sitting for hours at a time in one position can damage your neck otherwise
- You should also turn off your machine periodically. Computers and cell phones weren’t meant to be on 24 hours a day.
Links and Resources Mentioned in the Interview
In Search of Lost Films — Phil Hall’s book explores the history of cinema and explains how these famous films became lost.
Rashomon (The Criterion Collection) — a mindbending Japanese thriller that exemplifies how to create compelling characters.
http://filmsnobbery.com/ — Phil Hall is managing editor
http://cinema-crazed.com/blog/ — another website you can find Phil’s stuff
http://www.profitconfidential.com/— Phil covers the US stock market on this website.
The Online Show with Phil Hall — — Phil’s podcast where he talks about every aspect of the film business.
Finding KUKAN — KUKAN is a documentary about the Chinese resistance to Japan during World War II. It was the first documentary to win an Oscar. Finding KUKAN is about finding the last originally printed in existence.
The Economist — a British magazine about economics and politics.
Poets and writers — a literacy magazine for poets and writers that have some good business advice.
http://www.videolibrarian.com/ — Video reviews and news for libraries, including a searchable database of 12000 home video and dvd reviews.
Business Superstar — A website that focuses on entrepreneurship and startups –http://www.business-superstar.com/