If you are in this screenwriting game for the long haul, it will serve you well to learn the virtue of patience for all your film industry endeavors. After you finally get hired for a writing gig, even a simple contract may take three months to complete with the continual back and forth between lawyers. After a screenplay sale and the enviable development of the project, it may take a year or longer to go into production and a year later for distribution. This is why it’s so important to always have projects in various stages of writing, development or production. The urgency we feel as writers to be read or to sell is always pushed back by the reality of the film business and the bizarre amount of time it takes for anything to happen. Any movement on your projects will always seem to take longer than you expected.
Maybe you found a good contact that agreed to give you a read and now it’s been three weeks since you sent your script over — go ahead and check-in with a follow-up e-mail or call, but keep your focus on writing your next project. One thing I’ve learned is that everyone is Hollywood says they’re busy — even if they’re not. And everyone wants credit for their good intentions—“Oh, I’d love to read your script.” It’s the damn follow through that’s a bitch. I’d like more folks to just be honest—“No, I will not read your fuc*king script.” Thanks. Now we know exactly where we both stand and we won’t be wasting our collective precious time. It’s all smoke and mirrors anyway, right? We are the image that we project and in Hollywood, it’s extremely important to keep up an image of success: Being busy means you are working and successful. Even if a producer or agent is not busy and does have to time to read your script, they will make you believe they are busy and declare, “I’ve been swamped and I can’t promise when I’ll get to your script.” God forbid if they immediately read your script and get right back to you. That could appear as if they do have free time, and that could mean they are not busy and not successful. It’s a funny game, but appearance is extremely important in this business of illusion. Patience will serve you well in this scenario.
Also remember, after you finish your spec screenplay, unleashing it upon Hollywood becomes the most important driving force in your life — unfortunately unless it’s an assignment job where the producer is waiting for you to deliver the project, no one cares. They just don’t give a sh*t. I’m not being cynical, just honest. You’re now part of the other 50,000 scripts registered at the Writers Guild every year and without representation, you too must figure a way to catapult it over the wall and into someone’s compound for a read. This entire process of writing, rewriting, to finding representation takes a long time and requires tremendous patience. Especially if you’re working a day job you hate and you see your script as your way out and into the life of a working screenwriter. I don’t suggest putting this kind of heavy pressure on yourself, as it will make you stressed and even more impatient. Here’s my advice on how to juggle a day job.
It’s a long road to becoming a working screenwriter and forging a career usually doesn’t happen overnight. If you are in this for the long haul, it will require tremendous patience. Even becoming a better writer does not happen overnight and requires you to continually write, learn and create projects that will ultimately not sell. Your journey as a screenwriter will be a series of failures and mistakes, triumphs and successes, and when added up will hopefully lead to a career as a working screenwriter in Hollywood. The process will be long and difficult, but if you have patience and accept the challenges ahead, you’ll focus more on your love for the craft and not the urgency of success.
Keep on filling your blank pages and keep your eye on the big picture.
“No road is too long for him who advances slowly and does not hurry, and no attainment is beyond his reach who equips himself with patience to achieve it.” — Jean de La Bruyere
“What to do in a hot wind smelling of night blooming jasmine, except wait and sweat—and prime the body to sweat some more…” —Captain ‘Rip’ Murdock (Humphrey Bogart) in “Dead Reckoning” (1947).
“The professional understands delayed gratification. He is the ant, not the grasshopper; the tortoise, not the hare… the professional arms himself with patience, not only to give the stars time to align in his career, but to keep himself from flaming out in each individual work. He knows that any job, whether it’s a novel or a kitchen remodel, takes twice as long as he thinks and costs twice as much. He accepts that. He recognizes it as reality. He conserves his energy. He prepares his mind for the long haul. He sustains himself with the knowledge that if he can just keep the huskies mushing, sooner or later the sled will pull in to Nome.”—Steven Pressfield, “The War of Art
Did you just finish your latest screenplay and need in-depth consultation? Check out my services by clicking on the blue icon below for the link to my website. You never get a second chance to make a first great impression with your screenplay so make the time to get it right.