Screenwriting is about the long game. Not just when it comes down to writing a script itself but also on your path to finding success. It takes time. Lyndal knows this first hand and has been perfecting her craft as she worked toward her big moment. Being steadfast and productive are key to being a screenwriter. So, it comes as surprise to learn that her fantastic script has been optioned by a production company. This is what she has been steadily working towards as she weathered the tumultuous storms of screenwriting and is one of several reasons I am excited to introduce you to her.
This is Lyndal Simpson...
Born in Ferntree Gully, Victoria in Australia, I grew up on a vineyard in the country New South Wales before relocating to Melbourne as a teenager. I stumbled across screenwriting as a career choice while studying a Bachelor of Arts degree at Monash University majoring in History and Politics.
It wasn’t until I was married with two young children and desperate for some ‘me’ time that I returned to writing following a lengthy period working in customer service and studying Conservation Ecology at Deakin University. I dipped my toes back in the water with a short screenplay called “Possum” and was soon hooked.
The bulk of my work focuses on social commentary and is heavily character-driven. I champion women, underdogs, and those forgotten members of our society who dwell on the fringes. My feature screenplay “The Farrell Girl” was recently optioned by an Australian production company.
Q: How did you stumble upon screenwriting?
I loved writing from a young age, but the idea of writing as a career didn’t seem like a genuine option, so I got a “real” job in retail and studied an Arts degree at Monash University in Melbourne part-time. I took an elective unit in Professional Writing and wrote my first screenplay (a short) for a set assignment. It was graded a High Distinction and the rest is history!
Q: Who/what inspired you into taking this path?
Most of the encouragement I received as a child came from teachers. I was a painfully shy child but loved writing stories. Numerous teachers encouraged me along the way, drawing me out of my shell to share my stories with others. I dreamt of being a novelist and I remain convinced that screenwriting would never have occurred to me if it hadn’t been for that one assignment at university.
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Q: Who was the first person who believed in you?
I attended Dareton Public School - a tiny bush school in a tiny Australian town. My Grade 6 teacher, Mr. David Reid, made me feel so special. He really boosted my self-esteem and encouraged me to write.
I ran into him again when I was an awkward teenager struggling with depression. I was too shy to speak to him, but he saw me from a distance and called out: “Lyndal! I hope you’re still writing!”
Q: When was the moment you knew you wanted to be a screenwriter?
Although I’d written a few scripts, I don’t think I was truly sold on screenwriting as a career until I wrote my first feature script “The Farrell Girl”. I went into it with an incredibly strong vision and belief in the story that I wanted to tell. There was this moment where I knew that I’d achieved exactly what I’d set out to. A goosebumps moment. The script won the first competition that I entered it into and has recently been optioned. I now have the self-belief and skill-set to make a fist of this screenwriting business!
Q: How do you define success for yourself?
The first step towards success is writing stories that have meaning to me, and seeing them appreciated by others. It’s important to me on a personal level that everything I write has a strong emotional impact. The end goal is to see my scripts produced. That’s what I want above all else. Hopefully, I’m on the cusp of seeing this realized in the not-too-distant future.
Q: Give us a typical day in your life.
Are you an Early Bird or a Night Owl?
I’m one of those people that bounces out of bed with a lot of energy and motivation before the sun is even up! I’m also one of those people who is in bed asleep before 9pm! I think it comes from years of starting work at 4:30am when I worked in a supermarket.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
If my husband is home, I throw on my activewear and go for a long morning walk just after 6am. It’s my thinking time and I enjoy being out and about when the streets are quiet.
Do you have a morning routine or ritual?
I have 2 young sons that need to be fed and walked to school. It can take them 20 minutes to just put their shoes on!
What’s for lunch? Do you eat the same thing every day or mix it up?
I’m a big fan of stone-baked bread. I usually have some of that stuffed with salad. My father was a baker and I’m a bit of a bread snob. I eat way too much of it, but I also have no intention of cutting back!
What do you do during the day?
I’m in the fortunate position of being able to write full-time. I write every single week-day but have no daily word or page count goals. I’m normally pretty good at getting a few pages written – and they all add up! I’m not the type of writer to write vast amounts in short periods of time.
What do you do at night?
If my husband is home we like to sit down once the kids have gone to bed, and watch something on TV together. Our preference is for limited drama series from Britain which always seems to be of a really high standard, but we also watch a lot of American and Australian shows.
Do you have a pre-bed ritual?
I always like to check out the moon and stars if it isn’t too cloudy. You’re never too old to wish on a star! I also love looking at the moon. I’ve been meaning to get myself a telescope for the past 30 years!
How do you define a successful day?
If I feel satisfied with my writing output for the day it gives me a great feeling that flows over into the rest of my life. It’s not always about quantity either – although nothing beats writing a few good pages. Sometimes it’s getting over a plot hurdle and knowing that you’re on the right track.
Q: What’s been the most important skill you've developed on your path to screenwriting?
Perseverance and finishing what I’ve started. That’s been a big one. Seeing ideas through to the end is so important as a writer. Great ideas are a dime a dozen, but the real skill is in the execution. I’ve developed a sound work routine and embrace the reality that writing is hard work. You get back what you put in.
Q: What’s been the greatest challenge in your writing so far?
Structure has probably been the area that has tripped me up the most. I can be a bit of a rambler. I think I’m getting on top of that now, though. I’m not someone who reads a lot of screenwriting books or listens to a lot of podcasts. I learn by trial and error – but I do learn!
Q: What’s been the greatest reward in the choices you've made?
Finding self-belief and following my gut instinct has really paid off for me. I’ve found my individual voice and know the types of stories that I want to tell – largely about outcasts and outsiders.
My feature script “The Farrell Girl” had a great run on the competition circuit this year and has been optioned by an Australian production company that truly believes in it.
Q: What do you want to learn from a community of your peers?
It’s great to have people who are pursuing the same dream as you to interact with. Screenwriter Twitter is generally a wonderful place to learn and share information, ask questions, and exchange industry experiences. There’s a fantastic sense of camaraderie and support. I’ve gained a lot by interacting with the screenwriting community online.
The Successful Screenwriter Podcast - (Episodes)
We Fix Your Script - (Free Consultation)
InkTip - (List your script)
International Screenwriting Association - (ISA Connect)
WriterDuet - (Screenwriting Software)
Bulletproof Screenwriting - (Script Coverage)
Indie Film Hustle Academy - (Screenwriting Courses)
Krista Keller Talent - (Management)
The Robb Company - (Management)