In many ways, I can be quite a strange individual. Especially when it comes to writing.
Writing isn’t a very popular hobby to begin with. Just the fact that I do it as often as I do is enough to blow the minds of some people, particularly those who despise writing. Even those who actually enjoy it a little bit may find some of my ways and mindsets a bit unusual. The truth is, as someone who has loved writing for many years, I’ve developed all sorts of habits, rituals and so on. I believe I’ve become efficient at what I’m doing, so I honestly don’t think twice about a lot of what I do. It has honestly become quite natural.
Another habit that has become natural is what’s in the title: That each time I start a new screenwriting project, I always tell myself that I WON’T make it. That’s not a typo.
You may be wondering why the hell I would ever say that to myself before enduring the vigorous task of writing a screenplay for a movie or a script for a television show. It usually takes me anywhere from a few weeks to a month and a half to finish a project. So why would I sit down, open my laptop and before immersing myself into my blissful world of writing, tell myself that the project I’m about to start will NOT make it? The answer may surprise you.
You’ve heard people say that they don’t expect the best (even going as far as to say that they will expect the worst) from situations and this is just so that they don’t get their hopes up. Disappointment is often a concern.
First off, I don’t blame anyone who thinks this way. I just finished a second television sitcom script and I’m looking to send it to my favorite actress, who has been a professional for more than twenty years. She is also the star of a show on a major network. There are many, many times that I truly believe I’ve lost my damn mind to even think this woman will ever entertain anything coming from me. The concern of disappointment exists very strongly here. It will either be that I will never hear from her or her agent, or that I’m just waiting to receive that dreaded phone call or e-mail to say that she isn’t at all interested. So I do understand why a person would want to protect themselves a bit from that kind of disappointment.
However, that’s actually not the reason I tell myself that I won’t make it every time I start a new project.
The reason I say this to myself is so that I can stay hungry. Each time I expect a current project to not make it, I know that I have to keep going. Does that make sense? In other words, if I “expect” a certain project to be successful, that may cause my hunger to subside just a little bit, I’m afraid that may lead to complacency, even with as much as I love to write. To tell myself that it won’t make it keeps that hunger there.
Strange, I know. It’s almost like building a house and right before it, saying to myself, “Nah…this house won’t stay up for very long.”
I talk about writing a lot and by a lot, I mean all the freaking time. I love writing so much. I am really in love with it and probably borderline obsessed. It just gives me such a wonderful feeling that I sometimes can’t even describe. The worlds I’m taken to when I write are unmatched by most other aspects of my life. While I can say for certain that there is absolutely no way in hell my love for writing will go away any time soon, nor will I ever become complacent, even in the event of success, I want to take myself as far away from even the possibility of that as I can be.
I think most people would understandably not even bother with doing something if they tell themselves over and over they will not be successful at it. Why bother with it?
As for me, I know that at this stage of where I am in my journey to become a professional screenwriter, I will have to do a LOT of writing before much happens. I won’t impress many people with my first project, the second, the third, or hell, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and beyond. There are a few reasons for this. It could be because my work may not be up to par. Simple enough, right? As far as becoming a professional screenwriter, it will be extremely difficult to get my work into the hands of the big names or to people who could really do something with it. That will plague a lot of us aspiring screenwriters. Surely one or two projects won’t cut it.
There are people out there who look to do the absolute minimum. Concerning screenwriting, I feel that is absolutely the wrong mindset to have. I’ve told myself a long time ago that in order to even have a remote chance of success, I need to be ready to do a TON of writing that won’t lead to anything, and I have to tell myself that before I start every project. I mean every project. That is because, for reasons I may or may not be able to control, it really won’t lead to anything. Not at the start, and there’s no telling how long it will take before it does. However, I have to at least be willing to commit. I have to be ready to put forth the amount of effort it will take to succeed. Since I don’t necessarily know how much that will be, I have to be ready to write, write, and write some more. I have to write until I’m tired of writing and then write some more after that. Then, when I get utterly sick of it, do it even more.
This is the reason I sit down to each project I begin and I tell myself that that particular project won’t make it.
Because that is what keeps me writing.