'The hardest part is dealing with failure' - Academy Screenwriters Discuss Their Craft

What are the highs and lows of being a screenwriter?  What kind of misconceptions do people have about screenwriting?  How do you find your voice in an assignment or get through writer's block?  Academy screenwriters offer their views on these questions and more in this interesting six part video-series at the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences website.  With screenwriters like John August (Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Lawrence Kasdan (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Body Heat), and Marc Norman (Shakespeare in Love) sharing their thoughts, there's lots of great food for thought:

You can click on any link and you'll see the other videos in the sidebar:

I found this item from Marc Norman particularly inspiring for what I'm working through right now:

"The hardest part is dealing with failure.  I've often thought that that's kind of what separates people who want to write from writers.  Writers can deal with the fact that not only does it not work every day, sometimes it doesn't work on the project.  Sometimes you write 50 pages and you realize it was a terrible mistake and you gotta throw it away, and you gotta hear those pages clang in the metal waste basket.  And I think a lot of people can't stand that.  And writers somehow can - can somehow deal with that."

It doesn't necessarily make me feel better about trashing a month's worth of work, but at least understanding that it's part of the job makes it feel less senseless!  No one said screenwriting was easy, but it's both reassuring and daunting to know that Oscar winners and personal screenwriting heroes struggle with it even after honing their craft for decades.

What piece of advice strikes you in particular?

[via John August]

Your Comment


How did they manage to get the audio levels all over the place like that? I expected better from the academy of all places. Great content though!

April 28, 2012 at 5:55PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Excellent and inspiring, nice find. Thanks E.M.

April 28, 2012 at 7:08PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Falure is an option. So many people never start because they are afraid to fail so they do nothing. Some of the greatest inventions and stories in the world came after a time of "failure". That should encourage us all to get started. Now.

May 3, 2012 at 5:02PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Most all of these screenwriters in the clips have not had
anything produced in over a decade or two.

It's become a different industry where little is about the writing.
It's all about what comic book hero is flying around.

May 4, 2012 at 1:24AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Someone wrote the comic book heroes, y'know?

May 9, 2012 at 1:24PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Andreas Sankara

Best thing to do is film your own script if you can. It always turns out better if you have good actors as opposed to playing it in your head all day.

May 4, 2012 at 10:22AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM