Wednesday, May 18, 2016

You're crazy! Aren't you?

I'm thinking that being crazy (at least the delusional part) is required, if you set out to be a successful female screenwriter at sixty. Successful in this instance means that someone actually pays me for a  script that I write.

Over the past several years, I wrote two feature-length spec screenplays. I'm currently trying to finish a TV pilot script.

To extricate myself from the "self-criticism, hopeless hole" I'd buried myself in this past week, I turned to YouTube videos on screenwriting. Well-known teacher John Truby hit the nail on the head within the first seconds of the video clip "Why Most People Fail at Screenwriting".

John said people fail at screenwriting because it is the "most difficult craft in the world."  He went on to say that the hundreds of techniques associated with story telling takes a lifetime commitment to master.

Next, I listened to Richard Walter, head of UCLA's graduate screenwriting program. When asked about today's young screenwriters' urge to "hack it" or jump over learning the craft, Richard said "All writers want to jump over everything, always." Boy could I relate to that statement big time. At least I'm normal in that regard, I thought. He said that you can't skip learning.

To Richard's statement "Art wants your life," I asked myself how much of the time I have left on this earth, can I, and do I, want to give to art. Give to screenwriting.

When Richard said that "It never gets easier. It gets harder," I then understood why I have been so frustrated of late. I have fostered the belief that it will get easier as I write more, but the reality is that it has only gotten tougher. Of course,  the better I get, the higher I set the bar. The less I knew, the more carefree and careless I could be.

Both men said that to stick it out as a writer, a professional approach to continuing education is essential. So where does that leave me?

Even though the messages in the videos were validating, they also left me feeling regret for not giving my life completely to art earlier. So back to the internet I went. This time to find out the ages of today's successful screenwriters. On Stephen Follow's blog, I found this graph.

So, although it may take a lifetime to master the screenwriting craft, it can take as little as four years of adult life to write a top grossing film. It seems that about half the people represented on this graph needed twenty years or less of adult living to write a top grossing film.

The graph tells me that lots of time remains for me to "get there". If I commit myself to learning the craft and if I continue to write regularly, lot's could happen over a ten to twenty-year time span. I like that.  Maybe I don't need to be crazy to believe in myself after all!


  1. Hi Levonne:
    I have been reading your blog for quite some time. I so identify with "lots could happen over a ten......span!" I just began violin lessons at age 72 and am convinced I can do it! If we don't believe in our own abilities.....well, not an option for me and I believe you are similar in your attitude.
    I am also ready to begin blogging again.....

    1. Thanks Joan for writing. You are an inspiration!!! Please let me know when you begin blogging again.

  2. Of course you will get there! You're already there in a way because you are living the life of a creative but until you get that recognition/completed & sold script, maybe you need to get more validation bedside's reading what successful writer's have to say about getting there...they're words are inspirational & very true but maybe being in a program is what makes some writer's get there sooner...encouragement & connections from their classmate's...I admire you! I can't even write a note to someone without re-writing it too many time's! I can't even imagine how hard it is to write something worthwhile & then share it with others. I love to read, so writer's are my favorite people. Good luck!

  3. Thanks Helene. We'll do lunch when I sell my first script. Great to hear from you.

  4. I'm sure that screenwriting is difficult or more so, than book writing but with your perseverance I'm sure you will succeed! Best wishes!
    Martha Graham-Waldon

    1. Thank you Martha for stopping by. How is it going with your book marketing?

  5. Hi Levonne: Great post. You've got determination and that's critical. Keep going. You'll get there.
    PS I have a friend who writes plays and has had them performed by high school drama clubs. An interesting outlet. She said it was thrilling to see her script performed.

    1. Matilda. Thank you so much for your note. Would your friend be open to communicating with a friend of mine that is writing a stage play?


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