Why should I put all this time and energy into writing this screenplay if I can’t get it produced?
I used to have this thought.
Why would you put all of your energy into a project if you could only see that one outcome as inevitable? That would be an excruciatingly painful experience.
If you can’t come up with a good enough reason to continue and are attached to that all-or-nothing outcome, you may want to let that project go.
But I’d like to offer the idea of starting with a better question.
What are ALL the reasons you chose to begin this project? And, do you like those reasons?
If you dig deeper and find out that some of your reasons are that you love learning the craft and want to work toward mastery of it, you desire to build relationships with other writers or practice marketing your projects, you want to find out what works and what doesn’t work, you enjoy the process and who you are becoming as a writer, and you’re not attached to any particular outcome, then sure, that negative thought might pop up once in a while on a bad day, but you now could just redirect your brain to the real reasons you’re doing this project.
If you come at it from this perspective, you will intuitively know when to put that project to rest and move on to the next one.
I almost gave up screenwriting altogether because I was attached to an all-or-nothing result and was feeling like what’s the point? I am so glad I got coaching on this because I wrestled with it for a good two years and ultimately, it’s one of the reasons I decided to become a coach myself.
Because everyone needs to have the tools to strengthen their creative lives and projects and not destroy them prematurely with unhelpful thoughts.
What I found out was that I was focused on finishing a project because I was afraid of what others would think if I didn’t stick with it or finish it.
It’s always your choice and your decision to spend your time and energy on something.
When I really got that and allowed myself to have my own back, I was able to decide whether or not to quit or continue on a project with ease because my why was finally coming from a place of honesty. What I then discovered when it came to screenwriting is that I fell more in love with the process and I became completely unattached to the outcome. I’m learning to apply this to all areas of my life, and it serves me well!
I now know that if I make my efforts based only on getting a specific outcome, I end up falling into a lot of doubt and graspy, anxious behavior, and it shows up in my work, my communication and I have a lot more difficulty working through any obstacles or making progress on my projects.
Being attached to a specific outcome is a form of fear of failure. And we have to remember that it’s not failure we’re afraid of – it’s what we make that failure mean.
An email I read this morning had a quote in it from someone who was responding to the question, “What’s the worst decision you ever made?” She said she couldn’t think of an answer because in her words… “To repeatedly fail at something over 15 years of my life shaped so much of who I am and my success today.”
What if this were true about whatever project you decided to take on? That you were not guaranteed the specific outcome and you went into it thinking, “It’s possible I might fail; it’s possible I might not, but either way, I’m going to consider it a success.” What if you instead lived in the thought of “What is possible? What else is possible for me if I do this project?” Consider the possibilities of what you might learn, who you might meet, the inspiration or new idea that might come out of it, or where the path might take you instead…would this project be worth your time and energy then?
Only you can answer that. The answer may be no, and that’s okay.
Another thing you can do is look at the outcome you want and ask yourself what you think that outcome will produce for you. What feeling are you trying to get from it? The reason we do anything is for the feeling we think the outcome will bring.
Once you identify those feelings, ask yourself how you can create those feelings right now in your life because it’s never the outcome that makes you feel a certain way. It’s what you think about the outcome that gives you the feeling.
Using the example we started with, if the outcome I want from writing a screenplay is to get it made, how do I think I will feel when I get that screenplay made?
For me, it would be a deep sense of pride and accomplishment; it would feel thrilling to see it on the big screen. These are the feelings I think I would experience.
How can I create and experience the feelings of pride, accomplishment, and a sense of being thrilled right now as part of the process of creating that screenplay and in other areas of my life?
Why wait for the outcome to experience the feelings you want to be having? And why depress yourself with the thought that it probably won’t ever happen, so what’s the point? Why not just live in the possibility and let that fuel you instead of thinking it’s impossible? You don’t know what is going to happen.
If you approach writing your screenplay through the filter of What’s the point? I’m probably wasting my time and you are probably right. How creative and engaging do you think your writing is going to be if you’re creating from that energy?
On the other hand, if you’re thinking about what’s possible and about all the things you’re learning, all the fun you’re having writing, problem-solving, researching, sharing your work, making connections with people, gathering more idea seeds, and believing that there are people out there who will be interested in what you’re working on, your writing is going to be much more creative and entertaining to read.
You get to choose the success of any project. You may not get the exact outcome you thought you wanted, but you can still have it be a success if you allow that success to come to you through the infinite number of channels of what’s possible.
Most of all, make room for what matters. That might mean embracing a project or letting it go. The real waste of time is sitting in the middle with a question that is not useful like, “What’s the point if no one will produce it?”
The decision to continue a project or not is always yours. You are the only one who needs to like your reason for quitting or staying with it.
I want to end with a couple of quotes from the book Mastery by George Leonard.
“Perhaps we’ll never know how far the path can go, how much a human being can truly achieve until we realize that the ultimate reward is not a gold medal but the path itself.”
And one more:
“Ultimately, nothing in this life is ‘commonplace,’ nothing is ‘in between.’ The threads that join your every act, your every thought, are infinite. All paths of mastery eventually merge.”
If you need some creativity coaching on this topic, I can help. I know how painful it is to be in this place, and I’d love nothing more than to see you get back on the playing field. Quit your suffering and schedule a free consult here!