This past weekend, I ran my first half-marathon of the year. Luckily for me, it was a pretty flat course, and I accomplished my primary goal of finishing under two hours. 1:58:43, to be specific.
That works out to about a 9-minute mile, which for me is pretty good. It’s faster than I run during my training runs.
Because it’s an actual race, I tend to push myself a little bit more. Not because I’m trying to beat any of the other runners, but to see what I’m truly capable of.
Naturally, there will be those who finish much sooner than me. I think I was somewhere around the 7-mile mark when the eventual winner passed by in the opposite direction. They were maybe a minute or two from the finish line, while I had just passed the halfway point, so still had another six miles to go (equaling about a little less than an hour or so).
Was I bothered by that? Not in the least. I’m nowhere near being able to run that fast anyway. The takeaway is that we were each going at the pace that worked best for us. Theirs just happened to be significantly faster than mine.
“Well, that’s all well and good, but what does it have to do with screenwriting?” you might ask.
Easy. The results from when I do a race are similar to the results of when I write: I go at my own pace, which is different from everybody else’s. Some writers will get done faster, and some will take longer. As long as you’re happy with the results of how you did is what matters the most.
I know several writers who’ve had some very productive writing sessions the past few weeks; a few have been churning out pages at a seemingly inhuman rate. Do I wish I could emulate them and crank out double-digit numbers of pages every day? Sure, but my personal circumstances being what they are, that’s just not an option. For me, ending the day with three new pages is a victory.
It’s very easy to see somebody else’s progress, compare it to your own, which isn’t as much, and feel like you’re doing a lousy job.
How somebody else writes is absolutely no reflection on how you do. That’s them and you’re you. Comparing and contrasting both sides is pointless. All of your focus and attention should be on you; everything else is a distraction.
Like with running, if you want to improve, you need to work at it. It’s not easy, and takes time. But if you’re willing to put in the effort and keep at it on a regular basis, you’ll find yourself gradually doing better than you did a few weeks or months ago. That, in turn, will boost your confidence and make you want to keep trying to improve.
Writing a script is a long journey, and every single step gets you a little bit closer to finishing. And all those steps add up.
Put in the work, and you’ll see the results. Today, three pages. A week from now, four. After a month, five, six, or even more. Before you know it, you’ve got yourself a completed draft.
All without breaking a sweat.