It’s early morning. You didn’t get a good night’s sleep, so you’re grumpy as hell. You sleepily head to your desk, turn on your laptop, open up your Final Draft file, and brew a cup of coffee—in that exact order (hello, procrastination). After assembling your coffee, you sit yourself back in front of the blank page you’ve been dreading. Everything is as it should be.
But then something crazy happens ... you start writing. In spite of your grumpy sleepiness, the words flow out of you like the elevator blood scene in The Shining. You get caught up in the story and the characters and the emotions. You connect to the passion that compelled you to write this script in the first place. Before you can stop it, the worst feeling in the world starts to creep in …
I think we can all agree there is nothing worse than loving the art you’re sacrificing your mornings, evenings, and weekends for. But there are times when happiness just creeps in, despite our best efforts to push it away.
It’s true that some people are born with a natural loathing for screenwriting. But that doesn’t mean it’s unattainable for the rest of us. With the right lifestyle changes, you, too, can hate this craft—and I’ll be showing you how in just 10 easy steps.
1. Stop taking breaks.
A lot of people advise writing every day.
I’d like to take it a few steps further and encourage you to write every second.
You heard me. If you really want to hate writing, it’s imperative that you never step away from it. When you’re at your day job? Write. When you’re driving? Write. At your wedding? Write. On vacation? Wr—
Hey, that was a trick question. Remember, you don’t take vacations.
I’m warning you: time away from your script might just be the thing that unlocks a clearer perspective on your story—or, worse, a joy for life.
2. Or … take all the breaks.
Hear me out.
There’s nothing better than scheduling time to write and then spending all of it on Twitter.
(Yes, it has to be Twitter.)
3. Stop applying feedback.
Let me clarify—it’s totally OK to get feedback. (Bonus points if they’re generic, non-constructive notes that don’t offer any real story solutions.)
But you should never, ever, ever apply any of the feedback you get.
To stay unhappy in this craft, it’s important that every draft of every script you write has the same strengths and the same weaknesses. This way, you’ll feel like all the hours you’re putting in aren’t getting you any closer to your goal.
Hamster wheel, anyone?
4. Delete any compliments you receive on your script.
Should you get any comments of praise or adulation on your writing, delete them immediately.
It’s crucial you never reread, much less remember, what you did well in your script or what you’re naturally talented at. You should be solely focused on everything you did wrong.
(I actually find that this tip comes pretty natural to most writers, but it never hurts to reiterate its importance.)
5. Never give up explaining to your parents why you’re going to make it in Hollywood.
C’mon … do I even need to explain this one?
6. Keep yourself isolated from other writers.
Fortunately, the life of a creative is looked down upon by much of society, so … thanks, society!
That being said, some writers manage to find solidarity and community by spending their time with other creatives. All of a sudden, they feel understood, and their feelings of loneliness diminish … it’s pretty sad to watch.
When it comes to avoiding community, it’s crucial to recognize the warning signs. If you feel like you’re interacting with the same people over and over again on Twitter, cut it off. If you get invited to join a writing group, say no. If you happen to know writers in real life, have a prepared statement for any social invites.
7. If you must connect with other writers …
For my social butterflies who cannot resist making writer companions, fret not. There is a way to turn this into an advantage …
After all, every writer you befriend is another writer you can compare yourself to.
You can do this informally by simply paying attention to all the successes your writer friends are experiencing.
But I’d highly recommend taking it one step further and creating a Google sheet that literally tracks how many achievements your contemporaries have scored.
Whenever you feel happy or proud of where your career is headed, you can turn to this document to get you back to that mopey state we’re all striving for.
8. Never celebrate any of your achievements.
Let’s say your goal was to finish a screenplay. Despite your best procrastination efforts, you managed to complete it. You feel an urge to pat yourself on the back …
Take a deep breath in … now, breathe out … breathe in … breathe out …
Now, open up your bank account.
Or, better yet, log into your student loan provider’s website.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll see that your—wait, there’s no way I owe this much money. What the heck? I got to call these people … or maybe buy a lottery ticket …
Oh, right. We were talking about … wait, what were we talking about again?
9. Write something you think people will love instead of what you love.
On a piece of paper, write down a list of all of your favorite things.
These can be raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, political topics you can talk about for hours, friends you think would make interesting characters, a unique idea that hasn’t been explored yet, etc.
Once you’ve compiled this list, carefully place it inside a shoebox (preferably one without any shoes in it).
Now, bury the shoebox in the ground.
If you’re serious about achieving everlasting unhappiness, it’s imperative you don’t touch this list. Instead, I’d recommend you write stories that follow the Hollywood trends, regardless of whether you like the story or not. (In fact, it’s better if you have zero interest in the story.)
If you need help brainstorming, let me give you a few examples of what I mean:
- A limited series about a chess prodigy.
- A TV show about a dark, dystopian world that may or may not be set in South Korea.
- A franchise about a teen with insect-like superpowers.
If you thought it hurt when your passion project got rejected, you really need to experience getting rejected for a project you only wrote because you thought it would sell!
10. Be a screenwriter and nothing else.
Nothing will make you hate screenwriting more than making it your sole identity.
If Gary identifies as parent/photographer/screenwriter/food blogger/favorite grandchild of Grandma Bessie, they won’t be devastated if they lose a screenwriting contest. You know why?
Because they’ll still be parent/photographer/food blogger/favorite grandchild of Grandma Bessie. That’s a lot of things to feel good about.
But if Susan identifies as screenwriter, she’ll be crushed if she loses a screenwriting contest.
After all, if Susan is not a screenwriter, then Susan is ... nothing.
Yep. I saved the best tip for last.
There you have it—10 actionable steps you can start taking today to improve your hatred for this craft.
The best part about this plan? You’ll start seeing results immediately. Not only that, but you’ll be able to sustain your results over the long-term!
It won’t always be easy to follow these steps, but even if you face setbacks, don’t give up. Sure, there are a lot of things to love about writing …
But if you work hard enough, you won’t remember them.☺
*Feature Image: "Sheep Fake Lions" by Cristina Bernazzani (Adobe)