Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Rule of Hard Work

There are no shortcuts to success. If you want to progress in the world of screenwriting, you're going to have to put your head down and write. However, writing a script is just the basic essential. Now you have to pitch and hustle for work, and start writing a new script (or two). It's an endless and demanding cycle. It's bloody hard, and the constant rejections slice a dagger in your heart at every turn.

We're not really programmed to seek out difficult situations in our lives. The human condition prefers to take the path of least conflict so it's only natural to lean on books, courses, opportunities and technological devices to make our screenwriting lives easier. These sideshows of support are useful, of course. They provide some knowledge and inspiration, and sometimes even lead to work, but don't get sucked into embracing this milieu as the way to live your life.

Whenever people can't access the internet, they wail in anguish that they can't do any work (the recent Blackberry meltdown led to some people 'unable to function' as they couldn't message each other, or update Facebook, or whatever it was they needed to do, and some of these complaints from companies in the City!). This form of reliance on an external influence gives a false sense of importance to your personal working habits; a necessary distraction to maintain a decent display of being busy.

But how busy are you really being? Are you reading (and developing envy) about other people's luck rather than forging your own success through your own hard graft? Spending too much time online ostensibly networking but essentially not working? Or even seeking out blog posts like these to stir the screenwriting muse? If these questions strike a chord, then be brutally honest with yourself in terms of how productive you are with your writing habits and modes of procrastination. Change your routine accordingly. Write. Work. Repeat.

If you examine any person's success, there is one guaranteed element that helped them earn their place at the table: they worked extremely hard. Their sheer focus and grunt effort will far outweigh any slice of luck or favour that may have helped them along the way. Indeed, it's only through proactive endeavour that favours and opportunities arise ('the harder I work, the luckier I get', a fitting quote from Samuel Goldwyn, film producer). So, by all means embrace the technology or opportunities that may help you gain screenwriting success but there is no substitute for constant hard grind - not just to get ahead, but to stay ahead, too.


Paul Campbell said...

Danny, you're talking crap!

Honestly, I mean if I worked as hard as you insist I work, then I'd have no time for reading your Blog, or doing anything else, like maintaining my Bouncing Balls ranking, or eating biscuits.

Seriously, man, you clearly need to get some real experience of what it's like to be a proper writer before you go handing out advice like that. It sets a dangerous example. And what if my wife saw it?!

Danny Stack said...

Ha ha! Shur, anybody who read between the lines could tell these posts are all pep talks to meself...

Unknown said...

Not sure i read the same blog that Paul read.

What i'm reading here is "The harder you work, the more chance you have of success" whatever your vision of success is.

He's not saying you should spend every waking moment of your life writing. I mean, what would be the point of being a successful writer if you missed out on living.

Most of the successful people in this world worked hard for it, and work harder to keep it.

If i spend as much time writing as i did procrastination about not writing, or sitting on the internet "Socialising" then i'd get so much more work done. I do try, but fail, a lot.

Robin Bell said...

Hi Danny,

How many scripts should you be looking to write a year? I aim for one feature, one 1 hour, 1 half hour, and then something else, be it radio or another Tv project. Too much, too little?

Danny Stack said...

That sounds like a good run of projects per year. If you could keep that up, that would be great! At the very least, one script per year, any genre/format. Execs always want to read something new, not the same old spec that the writer's been hawking around town for years. Commissioned work doesn't count as new scripts, although it can be a valid reason why you haven't written anything new; in which case, who's complaining?

Anonymous said...

God its a hard world this writing lark. Especially if youre in jail. And getting abused by the army! You really should see them lay into me:
any support is much appreciated, thanks

Anonymous said...

Just a thought. People who really believe that professional-level writing is "bloody hard" and "slice[s] a dagger through your heart at every turn" are either a) people who are not actually professional screenwriters and are just exaggerating or b) professional screenwriters who are well-advised to get out of the business since they hate it so much.

In either case, I think they may be a tad bit out of touch with reality. There are far, far less favorable situations to be in than that of a professional writer. Would you prefer being a janitor instead?

Sorry to sound negative, but your article started off pretty negative as well.

Anonymous said...

A person who success in life not by arguing but by hardwork while patient:)