Screenwriting is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Every screenwriter wants to see their stories turned into am movie. However, novice screenwriters often have unrealistic dreams. As a general rule, the first screenplay you write won’t be produced. There are exceptions, of course, (think of “The Post”), but for the most part, your first screenplay probably won’t be turned into a movie for one simple reason. It’s probably not very good.

Screenwriting is a skill and the first time you try to do something as difficult as completing a 120-page screenplay, that’s a huge challenge in itself. The trouble is that when you’re learning any skill for the first time, you’re probably not going to be very good at it.

Imagine the first time you started learning how to ride a bicycle. Would you have fantasized that you could win the Tour de France within a few months after riding a bicycle for the first time?

What if you were just learning to swim. Could you win a gold medal in the Olympics in less than a year? Maybe, but probably not.

When you’re first learning, you’re not going to be very good at it. The more you practice, the better you’ll get regardless of any innate talent you might have. Innate talent is meaningless unless it’s backed up with persistence and practice.

So make completing a 120-page screenplay your first goal, and realize that your screenplay probably won’t be very good. Then make your next goal completing five different 120-page screenplays, and chances are each one will be slightly better. Finally, make your next goal to complete another five to ten 120-page screenplays, and by that point, you should be far more competent than you were in the beginning.

There’s still no guarantee you’ll ever get a screenplay produced, but if you keep practicing and keep learning from each screenplay you write, you’ll increase the odds slightly in your favor each time, and that’s the best you can hope for.

The only guarantee in life is that if you don’t try and don’t bother to learn, you’ll never going to succeed in anything. The other guarantee is that if you keep practicing and keep learning, you’ll at least have a better chance of success than if you did nothing at all.

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