Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Writing Week (Vol. 4) part 188 - Crisis of Confidence

Screenwriters must be tough. I don't mean physically (though being able to land a solid right hook isn't a terrible thing). No, screenwriters need an incredibly thick skin and ability to take a lot of criticism on their work and a lot of rejection in their attempts to get it sold and made. And it can be very difficult to resist all the pessimism and negativism.

I'll be honest, as much as I know how vital that "I am rubber" attitude is essential to an unblemished pursuit of professional screenwriting, I still fall victim to what I dub the "crisis of confidence." I fell victim to it this week. The League met on Wednesday night to review my second draft of the Medieval spec, and I received a very healthy serving of notes, feedback, and thoughts on it. Some of the notes jive really well; others didn't sit as comfortably with me. I have yet to decide which I'll implement and which I won't, but there's a wealth of information for me to sift through now. And the notes all mean I'll be doing undertaking another major overhaul of the script once again.

That feedback (too) easily fed into doubt when I got an update on my post-Apocalyptic spec from my producer. Though we've sent the script out to a number of companies, we are still waiting to hear back from them - and that is frequently not a good sign. Unfortunately, the realization that the script, which I thought was working (the Medieval one), was in need of a lot more work compounded with the non-update update from my producer, and the result was a damning and damaging crisis of confidence that's detrimental to any writer. Will I ever make this script work? That one that's circulating in the industry, which I thought was my strongest, isn't getting traction - will I ever be able to surpass that? If it doesn't sell, what does that mean for me? Will I continue to pursue this path?

These and other questions - or, rather, the answers to them - can be the deciding factor in any writer's pursuit of his or her career. Ideally, they're not asked. But let's be 100% honest with one another and ourselves. It's damn hard not to ask them. It's human to do so. And writers are students of humanity. The trick, though, which I have reminded myself of, is that one has to look at the silver lining in those moments of doubt. My post-Apocalyptic spec isn't gaining much traction at the moment; however, it landed me an agent at UTA, a lawyer at a respected industry firm, and, most importantly, I have two dedicated producers still doing everything they can to get it sold. For a 26 year old, I'm in a pretty good place in that respect. As for the Medieval spec, I know what's not working, and I have a lot of good suggestions for how to strengthen it. While I might have hoped I was going to get the thumbs up from the group, what I got was also positive - feedback on how to make it even stronger. So that's what I have to do. Write. Make it stronger. And bolster my self confidence.