Perseverance: What Sushi and Screenwriting Have in Common

Perseverance is one of the most important and perhaps most overlooked traits required of an individual pursuing the goal of becoming a screenwriter. When we begin writing screenplays, the process excites us. Naturally, we expect our initial efforts to be great. Then reality slaps us in the face. We either take our rejection letters and decide to pursue another path, or we stick the rejection letters on the wall to motivate us to write better. Those rejection letters never seem to stop coming. If we truly work hard on our craft, the rejections get softer with more encouraging words, but they reject us nonetheless. We continue to write in the hopes that one day, our script gets accepted. This craft takes several years to achieve mere competence, and several more to achieve high quality work. Searching for an appropriate analogy to illustrate this perseverance, Craig Mazin's "One Cool Thing" on this week's ScriptNotes podcast reminded me to watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi, just released on Blu-ray, DVD and online streaming.

Here's the trailer for Jiro:

As Craig adeptly pointed out, screenwriters need to watch this film. Master sushi chef Jiro Ono makes apprentices work for ten years in his kitchen before they ever make sushi. His eldest son, Yoshikazu, continues to work for him at the age of 51. Yoshikazu started his training when he was 19, and expects to take over the restaurant after his father retires. Currently, at age 86, Jiro shows no signs of stopping.

What some might see as a life sentence, Jiro and his son, Yoshikazu, see as a dedication to a life's hard work. In that dedication, they have found love and passion for their work. Despite receiving three Michelin stars, the highest honor bestowed upon a restaurant, Jiro constantly searches for ways to improve.

Certainly, luck and timing play a part in any screenwriter's success, but perseverance will lead to better craft. With enough perseverance, better craft will have a chance to find success.

What inspires you to stay focused on your screenwriting craft day in and day out? Share with us in the Comments.

Link: Jiro Dreams of Sushi

[via Craig Mazin's "One Cool Thing" - ScriptNotes Ep. 48]

Your Comment


All the trailers for this movie always make me insanely hungry. Now I'll have to go to my favorite Japanese restaurant again...

August 2, 2012 at 1:18AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


What inspires me to write is simply I love telling stories. Even when I write pure shit, when I finish, I have a sense of completion. That I finally got down what has been clawing out of me for the last however. Then, its back over it again in effort to try and not make it rest as pure shit haha

August 2, 2012 at 5:23AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Good friends and better minds than mine help me a lot.

August 2, 2012 at 5:58AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Lliam Worthington

The work itself is oftentimes what helps me push through. Worrying at a narrative problem's one of the fun parts of writing, especially when you can feel the solution coming JUST around the bend. My best stories (the ones with the best endings) have always come about through really hacking away, trying different things out, until what the story needs to be becomes clear. I've come to see it as just another form of problem-solving: all internal, but no less satisfying for it.

August 2, 2012 at 6:30AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM



August 6, 2012 at 8:15PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


What keeps me going is knowing that one day I'll be able to produce and film my own scripts. That day may not come for 5 - 10 years, but it gives me time to hone my craft.

August 3, 2012 at 11:05AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Bill Clar

Well said!
Most people don't have patience and unrealistic expectation.

August 6, 2012 at 8:17PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM