Just a moment of your time, please

It’ll only take this long, right?

Even though I don’t actively participate on a lot of online forums, I still enjoy reading them, occasionally throwing in my two cents when I think I have something worth saying.

On one such forum, an experienced writer offered to provide detailed notes on the script with the logline he liked the most. He was very detailed and meticulous in laying out the guidelines and rules, including that the script “MUST be ready to read NOW. No exceptions.”

Up until that caveat, I’d thought about submitting the logline for my mystery-comedy, but knew the script still needed work, so instead opted to hold off and wait until I thought the script was ready. And I said words to that effect in the comments.

Much to my surprise, he responded almost immediately.

“Now that’s what I love to see. Writers respecting the investment of time and energy of others. I’m taking about five hours out of my life to do this and I want to feel the script I’m about to read will be worth it. Good on you, Paul, for being so conscientious. It’s one of the responsibilities of a writer no one tells you about, but it’s absolutely vital for building and sustaining a career.”

I never thought of it that way because I was looking at it from my perspective: I didn’t want offer up a script I didn’t consider ready yet. But he makes a very good point – the other person has their own schedule, and you need to be respectful of that.

It’s easy to forget that even though you’ve put a lot of time and effort into your script, now you’re imposing on somebody else to devote a sizable chunk of their time to giving it a solid read-through. That’s a lot to ask, especially when they’ve offered to do it for free.

When somebody asks me if I can take a look at their script, I always let them know it’ll probably take me longer than I think to get those notes to them – and it usually does. Nobody’s complained about it (to my face, anyway). And when the situation is reversed and someone’s giving me notes, I’ll send the script with a note of thanks and that there’s no rush. I’ll distract myself from the waiting game by working on another project or two.

We all only have so much time to spare to devote to work on our own material, let alone someone else’s. Just be grateful and appreciative that someone’s willing to sacrifice some of their time to help you out, and definitely be just as willing to return the favor.

In a timely manner, of course.