Q. I'm feeling really fatigued right now. After a year and a half dedicated to writing, there are still stories I want to write and shows that seem good to spec, but the lack of validation for my writing is taking a toll. Not that I'm getting zero, I've gotten some great encouragement by those who've read me, but writing out into a professional vacuum has become a bit much to handle. Am I just weak sauce? Will I be able to break into the professional rungs, where the frustration can be greater at times? In summary, do I have what it takes?
Who knows? My instinctive reaction is "If you're a writer, it doesn't matter, you'll keep writing anyway," and "if you can be happy doing something else, do it." But that's facile. There was a point I nearly went back into computer science.
A year and a half is way early to be disheartened, though. Consider your first three years to be film school. If you're supporting yourself by writing within 5 years of "film school," you're doing great.
No one can tell you if you'll succeed. It might take ten years to break in. Somewhere in there you probably want to have some paid gigs, but they might not be union gigs that support you, just dribs and drabs of jobs with sketchy producers.
Ask yourself if there's anything you could do to further your writing and your writing career that you're not doing. Are you putting writing before everything else? Are you waking up at 4 in the morning to get a couple of uninterrupted hours of writing? Have you moved to LA? Are you going to every showbiz party you can get invited to? Are you going to every talk given by a real writer? Are you in a writing group? Is making your writing brilliant your number one goal in life?
Are you taking absolutely every paid screenwriting gig no matter how embarrassing or lame?
Are you writing your way into the corners of your heart where you feel scared? Or are you writing what's easy for you?
Is your relationship getting in the way? Is your self-image getting in the way? Are alcohol or pot getting in the way?
Are you telling the beats of every screen story out loud to five friends and five strangers before you even think about committing it to writing?
Do you ever take your first draft, throw it out, and rewrite everything from what you can remember of it?
Sometimes what you need is to take everything up a notch. Write MORE. Write more BRAVELY. Write what you're NOT good at. Take all the criticism to HEART.
If you do all that, you'll succeed.
Unless, you know, you suck.
Labels: breaking in