Writers – how to think like an accountant

We writers are passionate, often introverted, wildly imaginative people. And highly trained, secretive, good-looking assassins. Just like Accountants. No, wait, that’s accountants. Or maybe just in that one movie, the Accountant.

Anyway, bloodlust aside, what do we associate as traits of accountants?

  • Number crunchers
  • Analytical
  • Data centric
  • Exacting
  • Cool and calculating
  • Psychotherapist/Lifesavers, 1 day before taxes are due and you’re clutching a backpack of hundreds of damp, crumpled receipts

Accountants may seem like the polar opposite of writers, but put their hat on (or ninja costume if you’re feeling assassin-ish) for a moment and consider crunching your numbers.

Our assets are things we own that can generate revenue. For writers this is our (IP) Intellectual Property that we can sell or option. Let’s do a quick inventory of our assets, shall we? How many of the following do you have:

  • One-Sheets of Stories in Progress
  • Treatments
  • Completed Scripts
  • Completed Teleplays
  • Books
  • Stories in a form that may be converted to either episodic or film

Quick Questions: Are they fantastic? Did you get coverage, rewrite and polish them so they are ready to sell? Do that first.

Are they copyrighted? So you’re protected once they’re out in the marketplace and you have legal recourse if someone steals your idea? Do that next.


Ok. Now you know what your assets are. Now, the point is to do 2 things with them:

  1. Sell them.
  2. Option them.
  3. Leverage them to better position your career (i.e. attract agent, manager; or win contests to help sell them).
  4. Make more. So if you’re doing your April inventory – shoot for a goal – you’ll have 10% more of each item.

Congrats! Your accountant training is now done, so you can go do your triple knife practice, or even better, set a timer and get to that rewrite.


POST SCRIPT: Since it is tax season, and you are already working on taxes for next year (right?) you know the tax deductible expenses that you can take for your writing career. Or if you want a quick recap, here we go.

As a reminder, a tax deduction reduces your taxable income, which then reduces the amount of taxes you owe and pay. Here are the various broad categories:

  • Career related: writing-related travel costs, screenwriting competition admissions and related travel, conference admissions, film and writing group or association fees, and business lunches, screenwriting feedback and consulting services, promotions, operations and marketing such as your website and marketing costs
  • Supplies: pens, paper, printing costs, postage and other writing supplies, computer or printer, related software
  • Research: trade magazines, podcasts, books, magazines, newspapers

Deductively yours, Paula


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