AN INTERESTING DISCUSSION FROM SCREENWRITERS NETWORK FACEBOOK PAGE: DO YOU EVER FEEL DISCOURAGED ABOUT YOUR FUTURE AS A SCREENWRITER


Do you ever feel as though being a screenwriter is hopeless, and that you’re doomed to work a real job? What do you do about it, or what have you done in the past?

    • I am working a real job! Part time, as well as being a mom, which is also a real job. I recently commented to a friend that writing is like an addiction. No matter how frustrating it is, we can’t give it up. It drives us to keep at it in spite of the prospects, in spite of the frustrations we encounter while doing it. So that’s what I do. I keep writing. Because I feel the need – even when I avoid it.

    • This IS a real job, at least to me. I look at it as deferred payment.


    • Screenwriting isn’t a job to me, it’s part of the work of a storyteller it’s actually on e of my favorite parts of the work … note “work” because a job is a horrible thing that keeps you from doing your real work!

    • Sitting down and thinking up a story? A job? Nah. It’s a salaried hobby.

    • Howard Casner I must be honest, I do often feel disappointed and bitter about how long it is taking or if it will ever happen. I think I have to surround myself with a support group of fellow writers and other people in the industry. Going to a writer’s group helps, as well as mixers. Facebook pages like this also help. And since I do coverage and script consultation, that helps as well. Somehow, I do keep on going, but yes, it is frustrating at times and I wish I had ways to handle it better.

    • I have ideas sometimes that I think would work as a screenplay rather than a play or a book, so I write a screenplay. I know the chances of it getting produced are minuscule. But there is hope when it gets noticed in a contest or someone in the industry asks to read it. That keeps me going.


    • There’s a difference between being a screenwriter and being a person who makes their living solely from screenwriting. Most artists subsidize their art in some way; there’s no shame in that, nor should we allow it to take away from the joy of being an artist. We do it for love; if money comes, that should be icing. But the privilege and joy of writing should be reward enough.

      I lift my glass to you all, fellow screenwriters; we are mad, wonderful company, carrying on a rich tradition! Think on that the next time you get the “blues” and may it bring a smile to your face.


    • I know, but in most art forms you have at least a few readers or listeners or viewers. With screenwriting you might only get a couple of people reading your script, and even then it’s not seeing your work as it is supposed to be – on the screen.


    • I hear you, Sarah. But if you care more about the result of seeing your work on the screen than the writing itself, you’ll forever be caring more about an element of the business that is not in your control.


      Or, you could put it your control by writing a low-budget short and then producing & marketing it yourself. Then you can get it on screens in front of folks. My guess is, though, you’ll want more after that. A bigger film, a better distribution deal, a bigger fill-in-the-blank.

      There’s no assuaging the desire for more; but that desire should be a motivator, not a detractor. 🙂


    • whenever I feel worthless or hopeless or helpless to do anything or write anything in my many screenplay projects worthy of production, I drink– heavily– play some Skyrim, watch some movies until I pass out…

      when I wake up, I usually feel pretty bad from the drunk, but at least the focus is no longer on how hopeless my passion for writing is… so, I write on!

      it’s a vicious cycle really…


    • I’m all in for taking charge and shooting your own films, especially since the kind of scripts I write aren’t going to be big blockbusters that the studios love to shoot. I’ve shot one feature and one short and worked on a dozen more and I wrote a filmmaking book called Just Shoot It!…actually just released the 2nd edition. So if you need someone to light a fire under you for writing and/or filmmaking drop me a line. I’ll be glad to push you off the filmmaking cliff with a bungee chord attached. Marty is helping us out and I’ll be glad to return the favor to anyone by reading your material or discussing filmmaking.

    • Only the first one hundred entries will be eligible to win the $1,000 grand prize! The very first screenplay competition where the odds are stacked in YOUR favor!
      Please visit www.thefirsthundredscripts.moonfruit.com for contest details.

      thefirsthundredscripts.moonfruit.com

      Are you tired of paying $50 and $60 entry fees only to have your script lost in See More


    • I simply just keep going and never give up…daily.


    • It may seem hopeless, but when I look at some the dreck that gets produced, it lights a fire under my ass and tells me that I need to be the change I so want in film.


    • I’ve worked with several thousands of writers. None of them in LA or inside the industry when they started. Yet, I have had students who went on to sell to Warner Brothers, HBO, Showtime, ABC, and others. Other students have sold scripts to or been on staff at several TV shows including Roseanne, Home Improvement, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and The Mentalist, to name a few.

      All of them started away from Hollywood and had discourging moments and were no way going to crack Hollywood. But they did.

      I firmly believe if you have a great product and keep at it, the odds are with you to ultimately sell screen and tele plays. If I didn’t believe that I wouldn’t teach, I wouldn’t write, I wouldn’t get myself and others ready to hone their scripts, be pitch ready, and know how to market their work.

      It can be done, I’ve seen it happen numerous times. And that keeps me and my students going.


    • Howard Casner Sarah/Gregory: I’m not of the school where one should be satisfied with just producing the piece of art and to hell with whether it gets any attention or whether it sells or whether you can make a living with it. If that’s all it was to me, I probably wouldn’t write. I think as serious writers, we have to aspire to the end of our art, which is not just the product itself, but is also finding a way to getting it out to people. I truly believe I have something to say, but if no one hears it, sees it, comes into contact with it, then it’s pointless. There is a difference between trying to make a living off your art (even if you have to add to that income from other means), and being a multi-million dollar screenwriter. But to do something just for the sake of doing it, with the sole satisfaction coming from the creation of that art, that’s not fulfilling to me (I think it’s even self defeating), any more than being a doctor would be to someone who doesn’t work at being a doctor or a lawyer or teacher. I’m not cut out to be Emily Dickenson, nor do I want to be.

    • Howard, that was very well put. SOMETHING tells me, I don’t know what, but SOMETHING tells me you might be a writer…hmm


    • Howard: I think Sarah and I would agree that a chief goal of writing is to express something and have that expression received. I just think you can’t get your only solace/reward/etc. from that second part; you have to find some satisfaction in the expression, itself. Both sides of that equation have value.


    • I agree with Howard Casner, while I love to create art, I also know that it is near impossible to dedicate my time to both a regular career and writing. If I try to do both one suffers. With that being said I write what is marketable. Scripts I know will find a buyer so that I can continue to only write.


    • A screenplay is only part of the finished work of art, i.e. the film. The film requires collaboration. That’s why having it unproduced is unsatisfying (apart from not having any money!)


    • Of course you have to get some enjoyment out of the writing too, otherwise you couldn’t do it.


    • I write because I absolutely love to write. I sell because I absolutely love to eat.


    • I have moments when I don’t have work where I feel panicky and think my only alternative will be working at McD’s. The world of animation in Canada is getting more and more restrictive and so work is harder to come by but I hold onto the vision of selling great films and making the transition to the big screen. Hold the vision guys!!!!!!!!!


    • Howard – I always fluctuate on my feelings on that topic – whether or not it’s worth doing something purely to do it. For me, I usually push toward a goal that means a published product (in the loosest sense) or it’s not worth the time – especially having a child now. I have other creative endeavors that I also enjoy, which also have the potential to bring in income, so if someone could see my future and tell me for sure that I’d never make any money in screenwriting, I’d probably do a lot less of it.

      I have a friend who plays drums alone in his basement, every day. He’s very skilled, but he has absolutely no ambition to ever play in a band again or to record with anyone – the two means of getting your work out there as a musician. So on one hand I admire the fact that he plays at all and really enjoys it – but on the other, I don’t understand how it’s satisfying for him to know that he might play for the next 30 years, and no one will ever hear it (“if a drum is hit in the woods…”).

      On the broader topic, I’ve felt discouraged in the past, but I just plain old push the whole “will I make it?!” debate out of my mind now – as much as possible. Not thinking about it works best for me, and most importantly, keeps me moving forward writing and marketing my stuff.


    • @Steve – your post on your friend playing the drums for many hours reminded me of the 10,000-Hour Rule. Basically, the theory behind the rule says the more you practice (hence the 10,000 hours), the higher the success rate in any field. Anyone here put in 10,000 writing hours? Is the theory bogus? Just curious, as I don’t have anywhere near that much time invested yet.


    • I know of the rule. Malcolm Gladwell created that idea, and I love his books. Good point, and I think I may be over 10,000 hours – I’ve been writing screenplays on and off for about twenty years now. I wouldn’t call myself a master by any means, though. I think your learning is exponential though – I learn much more on each successive screenplay than on the previous ones put together.

      My drumming friend isn’t an example of that rule, though. He’s been playing drums for about 33 years, but he probably hasn’t done anything more than tread water for the last 30. He’s just exercising, not growing. That’s what happens when you never leave the basement, and never plan to.


    • Writer’s write! — So what you didn’t sell that spec — yet. Write, get a DSLR camera, (or find someone who wants to direct) produce the story you wrote, distribute… and keep it going until you get better and your budgets get bigger. Just joined a local filmmakers group via meetup.com to meet others who want to do the same.


    • When you talk to other screenwriters it feels like everyone is doing it, but when you look around a room, ask yourself how many people in the room have written a screenplay. That might make you feel better about it.


    • By a conservative estimate I have over 39, 000. 5 hrs x 5 days = 25 x 52 weeks = 1300 x 30 yrs. When I was younger I wrote 8 to 12 hrs a day. Of course there were days when I didn’t write. In that time I’ve written 67 scripts of. Of which 7 features, 4 plays, and 3 shorts were produced.


    • Not sure if that answers your question, but yeah, it takes a lot of work.


    • I’m a writer, but what I want to do is wait tables…


    • I think it’s about persistence and not getting to down. All screenwriters started at the bottom, it’s up to you if to make it to the top. BTWm watch a documentary called tales from the script. eye opening.


    • I look back at my very first script and compare it to my recent one… And i see how much i have grown. That tells me i am making progress….and if i just keep writing more…i might really progress….


    • For me right now, I have a job leading to a pension.
      Until someone buys a few of my scripts, I’ll continue to wait for the pension. It’s only for a few more years, then I move to L.A. I won’t go hungry if I don’t sell. 🙂


    • You will if you move to LA… 😉


    • That’s why I will have a pension, Geno. :))
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