When I first decided that, yes, I wanted to write scripts, I asked myself, "What do I need to become a screenwriter?" Of course, the answers to that were many: read Aristotle's Poetics, Fields, McKee, Snyder, get screenwriting software, watch movies, make connections, write. Over the years, the list has grown to include several other things -- namely encouragement. In an industry such as ours, with its fierce competition and narrow path, it's easy to become disheartened and lose confidence in your ability to achieve your goals. But over at Go Into The Story, readers took the time to write words of encouragement and give advice to first time screenwriters, which were recently compiled and put online. If you're need a kind word, a little inspiration, or a restoration in humanity, hit the jump.
Encouragement is one of those things you don't know you need until you're ready to throw your screenplay out of the window and settle for a desk job. Until I had a moment like that, I always figured that I could sit in my office for months alone, typing away, remaining inside my own head thinking, "I'm super tough -- I can do this alone."
But, I don't care how tough you are -- your hand is a bit swifter, your imagination a bit wilder, your heart a bit more open when you've got a community coming alongside you, rooting for you, making you sandwiches when you're frustrated.
The folks at Go Into The Story offered free tickets to an LA screenwriting event, "Craft Your Future: Surviving and Thriving as a Screenwriter," to readers with this prompt:
In comments, write words of encouragement to someone you don’t know about to embark on writing their first complete screenplay. No more than 100 words.
The response was remarkable -- so remarkable in fact that GITS decided to post all of the responses online for first time (or veteran) screenwriters to peruse in case they were in need of some encouragement. Here are some that I found excellent.
I want you to think of three of your favorite writers. Doesn’t matter if they’re alive, dead, or fictional.
As you begin your writing quest, picture these three writing giants standing behind you. Picture them as they encourage, push, and guide you along the way. They’re not going to take your crap excuse for why you can’t write that day. They won’t accept any weak character development, frivolous plot points, or your blatant overuse of camera direction. But best of all, they know you can do it.
Now go make your fellow giants proud.
Write your screenplay.
Not because it is your dream.
Not because it will make you rich, famous, or powerful.
Not because there is a lack of (fill in the blank) genre stories.
Write your screenplay because you are YOU.
Write your screenplay because of what YOU bring to the table.
Write your screenplay because ONLY YOU can write it.
Everyone has a story only they can write and it would be a crime against humanity for you not to.
Write your screenplay.
INT. STUDIO APT – DAY/NIGHT
A SCREENWRITER stares into his laptop screen. Strewn about the room are reference books and empty coffee cups. He turns away from the computer and starts to leaf through one of the books. A VOICE emits from the screen, startling our writer.
Inside or outside?
Huh? Uhh, outside?
Then cap it EXT and start.
The writer starts tapping away and soon is lost in the moment.
I know that these responses originally were written to win free tickets, but it's still truly refreshing to see such positivity and camaraderie amongst filmmakers -- it reminded me of that Kevin Smith quote:
Remember: It costs nothing to encourage an artist, and the potential benefits are staggering. A pat on the back to an artist now could one day result in your favorite film, or the cartoon you love to get stoned watching, or the song that saves your life. Discourage an artist, you get absolutely nothing in return, ever.
Check out the rest of these inspirational encouragements here. While you do that, I'm going to go say something nice to one of my artist buddies and then get my fingertips a-tappin' on my screenplay.
What do you think? As a screenwriter, how do you get through disappointments and self-doubt? Let us know below.
[Typewriter photo by Flickr user phooky]