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Vince Gilligan on the Best Advice He’s Received and Would Give to an Aspiring Writer

Breaking Bad Showrunner and creator Vince Gilligan has had quite the story, from getting into X-Files’ writers room thanks to a spec script to staying several years unemployed to becoming one of the most well-known and interviewed showrunner.

What makes Gilligan’s journey particularly interesting is his years as an underdog that pushed him to the creative edge that gave birth to Breaking Bad.

During an interview with the Archive of American Television, Gilligan was asked what advice he would give to an aspiring writer, and here is what he said:

Vince Gilligan on the Best Advice He’s Received and Would Give to an Aspiring Writer

“There’s so much advice, and so much of it is obvious I feel, and some of the time-worn stuff I feel really is good advice, even if people have heard it before.

The best advice I can think of all time I had is gird up your loins for failure because you will fail more often than you will succeed, and the best advice given that information, which again is pretty obvious information probably, but the best advice given that information is go down swinging at something that is important.

I say that but a lot of folks, me included, have been through times in their life, times in their career, where they said “What is it that people are buying now?

(…)

If you’re going to fail, and most likely you’re going to fail more often than not, you might as well fail doing something you care about, something that you love, versus something you think the buyers want to buy.

Because the truth is, the buyers want passion just as much as any of us do, we’re all humans, we want passion, we want someone to come into the room and say “Here is my story!” and it’s very hard to fake enthusiasm.

We all want someone to come in and say “Here’s what I’m thinking, it’s crazy, I know it’s out there, it’s edgy, sign on on this crazy dream with me, let’s try to do this together, we’ll probably go down in flames, but let’s take a shot.”

Better to fail doing something you love than doing some hack work you’re only partially invested in, because you will fail more often than you will succeed, and that’s part of the deal. If it was easy everybody would be doing it.”

I love what Gilligan says here. It’s one of those things that every successful creative will tell you, that you will hear over and over without hearing you, until you’ll understand exactly what they’re talking about.  And when you do, it’s a whole world of possibilities that opens up.

You can watch the full extract below, and for more interviews with showrunners, check the links after the video:

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