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Friday, February 22, 2008

I got this question in the emailz:
Q. WHY BOTHER? SHOULD I TAKE THE RISK? As a mother of two little kids, I wonder if I should be spending my energy writing my screenplay. Maybe I should sleep at night instead. It feels like the odds are SO LOW that my screenplay will ever be produced.
I guess I'd have to say: if you're seriously asking that question, you should probably get some sleep. I don't write because I'm hoping it will get made. I write because I have to. I'm really a horrible person to be around when I'm not being creative. I take umbrage. I bark at dogs. Because my stuff sometimes gets made, people often pay me to write it, or buy it later on, and so I get to write all the time instead of just after work or when everyone is asleep. And for that, I consider myself blessed.

So, if all you really need is permission to skip the sleep -- if the question is really, "Why am I skipping sleep to write screenplays that may never get made," then consider yourself permitted.

But if you are skipping sleep, don't write something you think will get made. Write something you love. Then, at a minimum, you'll still have the love. The odds of a first-timer breaking in are bad, but they're much better for someone writing something new and fresh and unique than someone writing a spec blockbuster. My agents always used to be after me to write blockbusters, and they never got bought; and I was working in the industry, so I had a sense of what might get bought.

You know, another thought is that you might not want to write screenplays. If what you love is the writing, write a novel. You can publish those yourself. And it's probably easier to get a novel published than to get a script bought. And writing a novel is a heck of a lot of fun. And you have a finished product when you're done. Granted, fewer people read novels than see movies, but fewer people read scripts than read novels...

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6 Comments:

A great response. So many of us ask this same sort of question. We know the odds are against us, yet we persist. You must believe in yourself and what you're doing 200 percent. And still, your scripts may never be recognized.

By Blogger Rhea, at 10:48 AM  

It's never occurred to me to quit. If it takes 20 years to get a script sold, I'll be at it for 20 years.

I think if there's a doubt in your mind about whether or not it's worth the effort, it's probably not worth the effort.

By Blogger Emily Blake, at 12:20 PM  

Great response, Alex. I recently switched to fiction for the reasons you mentioned, and I've never been happier.

By Blogger Barkalounger, at 1:38 PM  

The question for me as a beginner is, when and how to stop procrastination.

By Blogger Roteirista diletante, at 2:00 PM  

I really hate when you answer "should I quit?" questions, Alex. (Not how you answer them, but the fact that you get them at all.) Anyone writing to a mostly-stranger for permission to not bother has already decided not to bother. Kind of like those people on American Idol who claim it's their last chance. "If Randy doesn't like me, then I'll never sing again!" Please. Just admit that you're tired, and sit down.

*cough* Yeah, I feel strongly about that.

By Blogger nadia*, at 2:45 PM  

Making cartoons is fun too! I love writing, but seeing your stuff get produced does help to keep you going. I taught myself how to draw as a way to get my writing produced (at least bits and pieces of it).

Judge for yourself at:
www.GiantPancake.com

By Blogger GiantPancake, at 10:03 PM  

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