Dread. Every screenwriter experiences this eventually. You get to a place where it feels like it’s all over. You’ll never get that agent. The manager will never call you back. Will anyone respond to my query? Listen my friend. I’ve been there. You are not the only one. I remember doing over 100 (yes that many) queries in a day then
waiting…and waiting…and waiting until I heard back from 2 (yep 2) that they would look at a logline and short synopsis. That’s pretty sad. I sent them in and of course never heard back. That’s this business. It’s designed to say “no” and keep you out. It beats you down. It gets ugly. It feels like it will destroy you from the inside out. This almost malicious process takes it’s toll on you and your relationships because it is forcing you to change. It is hardening you. Eventually turning you into a literary bad a**.
It reminds me of my martial arts training. Or any kind of warrior training really. What happens is that you are physically and mentally pushed to your limits by your teacher/instructor to the point where you are about to break. Then they back off, observe, and support. They see how you handle yourself and help you pick up the pieces and build you into a better, stronger version of yourself.
In screenwriting your breaking down part is going to happen but you need to find someone that will help you pick up those pieces. How do you do that? You’ve got to find a mentor. Someone that has come before and will pay it forward. I suggest networking at film fests, contests, or even use our site which offers mentoring.
Desperation. This is were dread leads. It’s an ugly road. You get to a point where you just want to get a win. To see something, anything of yours made or optioned. This is where a lot of writers get taken advantage of. Because if you look hare enough you will find an entire industry that profits off of desperate writers. I know that sounds crazy coming from a company that caters to writers. But there’s a difference, which is that we are trying to help you with your script and make it great, we actually care. We’re not just trying to make a buck. Desperation drives a lot of writers (good writers mind you) out of the industry because they are taken advantage of. It’s sad and breaks my heart. Which is one of the reasons I’ve started this company. I remember beating out 90 other writers for a coveted gig from a popular online website. Only to discover they wanted me to write an entire season (1 hour episodes) on deferred pay. That means free writing. Here’s the kicker, I was going to do it. A good friend stopped me. Thank God for him. He talked some sense into me and I will always be grateful to him. But that’s how desperate I got. I know you want the big “W” to say you finally got a win. But don’t let desperation lead you down the path to be taken advantage of. This will drive you out of the business faster than POGS in the 90’s. (anyone remember those?) Once that happens then your screenwriting voice will never be heard and everyone of us is worse off for that.
Determination (crap this blog is long) This is how you make it my friend. By not giving up. You have to dig down deep. Remind yourself why you do this. Feel the love of writing and creating. The thrill of coming up with something new learning a different approach on structure. Finding a good screenwriting group and getting a mentor will boost your determination. Never letting the haters (which surprisingly are a lot of coverage services) get you down and convince you that you are not worthy of it. If anybody tells you that determination is a fools errand then I have one thing to say. They are wrong. If a dyslexic from Detroit can make it then so can you. But if that’s not enough for you then read “The Disaster Artist” It’s about a guy whose only talent and gift is his determination. And because of that and that alone he is famous and has James Franco playing him in a movie.
Till next time my friend.
-Geoffrey D. Calhoun