In it for the long haul

A somewhat extreme example, but you get the idea

Some days this is quite the struggle. You slave away on a script, send it out (contest, query, what have you) and hope for the best.

Unfortunately, a lot of the time, the best isn’t what happens. There will be rejection. A lot of it.

But every defeat is temporary, and a chance to regroup and try again.

In the beginning, when somebody tells you “no”, you take it personally. But you eventually grasp the concept that they’re addressing the writing, not the writer. You hunker down and keep going, continuously striving to improve.

The “no”s will still come, but eventually you get to the point where you simply shrug it off.

“Why even bother?” some might say. “Why keep doing this to yourself?”

Because the longer and harder you work at it, the closer you get to reaching that goal.

Because we feel this is a goal worth pursuing.

Because we’re compelled to.

Because we believe in our abilities.

Because we love doing it.

Success, especially when it applies to screenwriting, does not come easy. Or quickly. You will need an unlimited amount of patience and perseverance. This is going to be a long, perilous journey.

I’ve started walking. Who wants to come with me?

And I think this is a pretty good way to get things started.

10 thoughts on “In it for the long haul

  1. Your post could not have come at a better time. The email I opened just before yours was a very polite rejection: “Your script is not what we’re looking for right now. Good luck with your writing.” I was questioning whether it was worth continuing and then I read your post. I won’t succeed if I quit, so I guess I’ll stay at it. thanks & congrats on your reader milestone.

  2. Two factors play a role:

    1. Screenwriting is the single most difficult craft there is – it takes many years to finally master. Even so, some professional screenwriters who have been at it for a long time and have had some success, admit that even they don’t always get it right!

    2. At any one time there are between 50,000-60,000 screenplays floating around in the Hollywood Halls of Screenplays, with an additional +-250,000 scripts getting registered annually! This means production companies and the readers are flooded (invariably with “bad scripts”) and they’re not readily going to read yours unless:

    You come up with a really strong/compelling premise and have them hooked by the end of page one, and then keep them hooked (with strong and layered characters, strong character dynamics, brilliant dialogue, execution ext.) right up until the end.

    A tall order for any writer, hence the reason you should never give up until you get it “right” even if it takes years! How? By keep writing, learning and improving your craft. Starting NOW!

    James, if you like, I could have a look at your screenplay and perhaps give some pointers?
    Let me know.

  3. May West AND Paul, Very kind of you to offer to look at my script. Paul, maybe I seem more in need than you so I get asked first. Also, I believe the hardest craft to learn is Explosive Ordinance Disposal. You don’t have years to get it right. Your first mistake can finish you. Screenwriting is easier. May West, please email me –

  4. Paul, of course!
    But only if you bake me a pie!!!
    And send it all the way to Spain!
    I’m so TOTALLY INTRIGUED: Explosive Ordinance Disposal?!
    GSU —-

    ONE mistake and you’re finished – jeez!
    Good premise (have we seen it before?) but I’m most interested in
    the character: who is he and why is he doing this?
    What makes him “tick” – pardon the pun.
    Stick to screenwriting for now – not easier though, it’s just a very slow and long winding process (no urgency) to get to the point of being “finished.”
    Sometimes it don’t know which is easier – the quick or the slow….?

    • May West & Paul, Hey, I read a script of Paul’s & didn’t get a pie. My script that got turned down is a prison breakout adventure in Bangkok & is adapted from a friend’s novel. Kathryn Bigelow did a pretty good job regarding EOD work in “The Hurt Locker”. My only exposure to that stuff was “playing” with plastic explosives in the military. Really like “GSU” .Easy to remember.

  5. I pick-because I feel compelled to do it. That why I keep plugging, changing and hopefully improving my screenplay. From This Moment On is going through it’s third metaphorsis change and I believe it’s for the best. I am going to write the outline from a new Logline. This time I feel I’ve solved the problem I kept tripping over. Although others will tell me to throw in the towel on this one I can’t. For some reason I have to see it finished before Ican start another. Maybe it’s a mistake, maybe it’s not.But it is what I am going to do. What do you think?

    • That’s a question only you can answer. If you think it’s worth the effort to see it through, then do that. If you feel ready to move on to the next one, do that. There is no wrong choice.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s