Sure, it can be depressing to get a “pass” on your script, or to not even make the quarterfinals in a contest. But oftentimes we are so wrapped up in the idea of “making it” that we ignore that these are important stepping stones on our path.
Every pass is a learning lesson. Every script you read, every class you take, every new draft you complete improves your craft. And the truth is, while a lucky few might have some screenwriting success right away, for the rest of us, we have to get good enough first. And that may take years, and in some cases, decades.
No one wants to hear this. We live in “instant gratification” land. But it’s true. And thus, the best advice here is to try to reframe your mindset so that you actually enjoy the journey.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself next time you get frustrated with the state of your career:
1. Do you love writing? If the answer is yes, great! You’re doing what you love, and how many people can say that?
2. Could you imagine yourself doing anything else? If the answer is no, great! That means it would be impossible for you to choose another path even if you wanted to.
3. Are you impossible to live with if you don’t get to write? If the answer is yes, great! Those around you will thank you if you keep at it.
Whenever you get frustrated, go through this checklist in your head because it will remind you that it doesn’t matter if it takes one year or twenty, there is nothing else you can do.
By the way, if your answers are the opposite from the one above, then why the heck are you putting yourself through this? Pick an easier path!
Embrace your inner Zen master and be one with the process. Think of it like fitness. You don’t just go exercise a bunch of times and then you’re done, right? No, you have to keep doing it, always getting better, for a lifetime. Writing is no different. Just keep doing it. Eventually, your craft will be at the level it needs to be at, you’ll hit upon that killer idea, and the stars will align. In the meantime, enjoy the road you’re on.