Finding Thematic Material
Finding the right thematic material and having both parties (you and your customer/director) agree on it can take quite some time. When you present possible themes, it is common today to present them in their best shape as directors very rarely have the ability to abstract from sketches. So even if your theme is perfectly fine, presenting it only in a piano version might result in an “That’s not epic enough” etc. reaction. So take some time to flesh out your ideas in a presentable way before showing them to your client.
When dealing with reactions, try being very analytical about the critizism. Sometimes, directors don’t know exactly what bothers them about a certain idea but also take into account to change the instrumental colours (to make sure it’s not the instrumentation that bothers him/her).
Quite often, directors like portions of a theme but don’t like single notes or phrases. Before you write something completely new, try isolating them together with the director.