Saturday, March 28, 2015
The One Thing You Need To Be A Screenwriter
There is really only one thing that you need to be a successful screenwriter. Drive.
I don't mean the cheesy, Hollywood-stereotyped, cocaine-laced, Alpha-person, short-fused, high burnout, megalomaniac version of Drive. That's the mask of ego that can only be worn so long before a person self-destructs. The Drive you need is a slow, steady burn. Drive is what keeps you writing long after the fickle Muse leaves you for someone else. Drive is the still, quiet voice in your soul that whispers, in spite of all circumstances, "Keep going."
Lots of people start screenwriting projects, but very few finish them. Many screenwriters loathe and fear the inevitable rejection that comes with the territory of being a writer, but in fact, it's not the rejection of others that stall out most screenwriting careers. Most screenwriters don't even make it far enough to send work out to be rejected. The greatest threat to a screenwriter's career is abandoning one's own project. Many writers simply give up. Many writers lack Drive.
Drive means that if you have an opportunity to learn or grow in your craft, you do it. You don't wait. You don't second guess it. You don't hope that some profound ability will manifest via osmosis or magic without training and practice. If you have Drive, you know that you must constantly invest in your education.
Drive means you write. You write when you don't feel like writing. You write when you know it's not working. You write when you don't have time to write.
Drive means you are in motion. You take steps (like writing) every day to further your goals. As the metaphor goes, you may not see far down the path, but so long as you put one foot in front of the other, you will go somewhere.
Drive means that you take charge of your own life. You don't blame circumstances for getting in the way of your goals. Drive means you work with the challenges you have. You find a way to make it work in addition to your other life responsibilities.
All writers have productive days and not-so productive days. Even the best succumb to what Steven Pressfield describes in his book, The War of Art, "The Resistance." The difference for writers who have Drive is they know that one unproductive day is just one lost battle. Drive means they are still winning the war. Drive is an accumulation of grace. So keep going. And when you're tired, keep going. And when you doubt you can go any farther, keep going. And when you feel like quitting, keep going. Just keep going.