One of the most common analogies regarding screenwriting is “it’s a marathon, not a sprint”.
Speaking from experience, it most certainly is.
For long-time followers of this blog, one of the things I enjoy doing when I’m not working on scripts is to go for a run. It’s good exercise, lets me catch up on my podcasts, and offers plenty of time to think about my writing projects.
After years of half-marathons, I decided it was time to take on the next challenge – a full marathon. A whole 26.2 miles.
Despite all the training I did, of which there was A LOT, when I set out that morning, I was still nervous. Could I actually do this?
That’s when I reminded myself, and did so repeatedly over the next few hours:
It’s the distance, not the time.
Much as I wanted to finish with a respectable time and pace, I’d decided it was more important just to finish.
Long story short – I got to mile 20 and a twinge developed in my heels and ankles, which then turned into out-and-out pain, so I ended up walking the rest of the way. It took me longer to get there, and definitely wasn’t the way I’d hoped things would play out, but I kept going and crossed that finish line. All the hard work and effort had paid off.
What does this have to do with screenwriting? It’s the perfect metaphor!
Earlier this week on social media, I posted my standard question to the screenwriting community – how’s your latest project coming along?
Answers covered just about the entire spectrum. From “great!” to “almost done with it” to “working out a problem in the second act” to “slowly” to “not at all”.
I can certainly sympathize with those last two. Frustration about a lack of progress is common. Our creativeness just isn’t cooperating, which doesn’t help either.
It usually boils down to two choices: accept the frustration, dig in a little deeper and keep pushing forward, or give up.
For me, giving up just ain’t an option. I love the writing too much to even consider it. But like with the running, I may not get the results I want when I want them, but I’ll keep trying until I do. It might take longer than I want, which honestly would kind of suck, but if that’s what it takes, then so be it.
As writers, we put way too much pressure on ourselves to succeed, sometimes within a somewhat unrealistic timeframe. “If I don’t get the results I want, I’m a failure.”
This is NOT an easy thing we’re trying to do. At least give yourself credit for being willing to do the work. Some people don’t even get that far.
Everybody’s path to success is different, as are our individual finish lines. You know the route you need to take, and how challenging it’s going to be, so it’s up to you to decide how you want to take it on.
So to all the writers feeling disappointed or frustrated about how things are (or aren’t) going, remember that the road ahead may seem treacherous and insurmountable, but if you keep pushing forward and do your best to enjoy the journey, you’ll be that much closer to crossing that finish line.
Hang in there, chums. I may be running my own race, but I’m still on the sidelines, cheering you on.