Screenwriting : Exhausted by John Luerding

John Luerding


I'm at the point where I feel like throwing in the towel. I can't afford to keep doing festivals, can't afford to do pitches and can't afford to do movie short competitions. Pay pay pay pay and always the "We regret to inform you." A person can only be shot down so many times.. I think I'm there.

Steve Payne

Don't give up on your passion John. Perhaps a break and a different approach is needed? If it's the rejection getting to you how about going a route where that element is removed? How about going the Youtube route to reach out to ordinary people for example? You could teach what you've learned and slip in some script ideas / sections of your script along the way. I've found youtube to be the best social media platform to be heard, although it takes a lot of time. Good luck man.

Pierre Langenegger

Hey John, don't give writing, just write, that doesn't cost you anything. Seek out peer reviews here or elsewhere and/or join some writing groups and improve your writing that way then you can tackle some comps later. My advice? Don't waste money on pitches until you're ready

Dawn Murrell

John, I am a broke mother of three who has borrowed money to do 5 pitches and 4 contests at the same requests and a semi final place in a contest. Now I am debating on whether or not to spend MORE money on MORE pitches and MORE contests and script consultants with possibly the same results? I am right there with you. Its easy to get exhausted because of the sheer volume of determination and money to keep pursuing the dream of becoming a paid writer.(pretty much any dream really!) People have told me they have done 13 and 14 pitches with no results until the15th try. I know for a fact that Stephen King got 100's of rejections from his work until that one big break. Try putting the frustrating script of choice to the side and work on something you love, just for fun and just for you. Remember why you wanted to write in the first place. Take a break, then try what you were working on pitching again. Take the positive feedback (ONLY THE POSITIVE) and use it to make the frustrating work better to your own eyes. Believe in your abilities and don't give up. I know its easier said than done. :) Every so called failure is a step closer to success. Believe you can and then you WILL succeed!

John Garrett

Have you considered producing your own material? I know it isn't for everyone, and not everyone is able or willing to do that. But it might be something you look into or consider. I suggest this, even if you simply write a short and get it made, because of what you learn. As a writer I never considered anything outside of writing until I made my first safety video. That two minute video was a major lesson. Making 5 safety videos of 2 minutes or less took 12 hours of production time, 35 hours post production, and I did not track preproduction but it was more than the production time. On top of which there were only three usable videos when we were finished. But in that time I learned so much about how what I write translates onto the screen it was worth all the time and money I spent. I feel I am a better writer for it. For me, this had me put my two features on the shelf as I make a string of shorts to hone my skills. Then I will go through some serious revisions of the features. Again, not for everyone, but if I can help, let me know.

Terri Viani

I was going to suggest the same thing as John. Producing your own stuff has its own challenges but it also puts you in control. Don't give up if you still love the writing, though. =)

Jean-Pierre Chapoteau

I feel your PAIN!! I'm going the youtube route too. If you have great story, they will come...

Mike Romoth

We all get to this point eventually. I've quit it all dozens of times, and there certainly are plenty of scammers and scumbags out there. But a creative person is a creative person...curse or blessing as it may be. You are a warrior among other warriors. Yes, the scars are real. Yes, the battles are bloody. Many of us can feel your pain and agree with it. But that little flame of hope that has always burned within me just cannot be snuffed out. Take a break, reassess, and don't be surprised to find your pen jotting down ideas whether you like it or not.

Steve Payne

@jean - They will as a trickle. If you can give them some useful content "how to" in addition then you'll have a bigger pool to draw upon when the time comes to share some art. I've experimented with three Youtube channels since 2009. The most successful one talks about Classic Board games. The link is that the Audience has the board game in common, so they come. In addition I feed them my own crazy ideas, and they come, a lesser number but they come. I've gone the same route with my Music/Animation channel. They come becuase I feature lots of tutorials, now and again I present animation or music and some stick around to view. A few Youtube channels "go viral" and get offers outside of Youtube. That would be the dream. :) @Mike. "But a creative person is a creative person...curse or blessing as it may be" Amen to that. We're stuck! If we don't create we are miserable. I don't know about you but I'm grateful to keep getting the opportunity to carry on.

Jean-Pierre Chapoteau

I love that, Terri. Thanks for that info, Steve. I'll try and do something else alongside a web series idea I'm working on.

Steve Payne

@Jean. imho It will pay off in more subscriptions and therefore views. good luck!

C.m. Andino

Franz Kafka said, "A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity." So, for the safety of your loved ones, don't give up on writing. Maybe just take a step back from trying to market it until you've regained your strength. I find that connecting with other S32 members and talking about the projects we are passionate about helps keep the passion alive. S32 has been a lifesaver.

Sam Bryans

I get that. In this business you need money to make money and as a recent college grad I have none, but you have to take it one step at a time. I'm not ready to give up yet and neither should you.

Bill Hartin

I'm more or less echoing Manda's and C's wise counsel - S32, sanity preservation, take a breather, ID other avenues, reach out here for support/encouragement - but it was Manda's "...found a production company to film one of my shorts..." that resonated with me because that's what keeps me sane and in the game these days. Since founding FIFO (Fade In/Fade Out) our non-profit filmmaking consortium here in the Lehigh Valley, PA, 2.5 years ago, we have produced more than six short films, with two more in the pipeline. I must admit I'm not the brightest bulb on the tree but making those films raised my screenwriting abilities and awareness in so many valuable ways. I sent you a network request with the hope that when FIFO is ready to consider its next round of short scripts to produce, you will submit one. And if things go as planned, and we select your script to produce, tens of thousands of people will be watching it in our very unique writer/filmmaker-centric film festival. So I hope you will accept my invitation to join my network. Best of luck in the meantime.

Lauran Childs

I thonk you're right to be thinking about this. Maybe it's a time to end, or simply do things another way. Good luck!

W. Keith Sewell

Keep writing and sending out queries, you can reach potential buyers on virtual pitchfest - 5 pitches for $50. That's a reasonable cost for testing your query's marketing potential. Don't ever give up, this obstacle will soon pass with due diligence.

Preston Poulter

I gave up on the process a while back. IMHO the only thing Hollywood cares about is sales, so I'm working to convert my screenplay into a graphic novel. You can see some of the preliminary artwork on my profile. I'm scheduled to go to Austin Comic Con/Wizard World in less than two months and I think it's going to be a lot of fun. You get on panels and promote your book to audiences hungry for a good story. My goal is to get the graphic novel on the New York Times Bestseller list. Then I expect Hollywood will come to me. :)

Ricardo Islas

Have you considered joining a group of actors and produce a low/no budget movie? Look what we did with 5K:

Andrew Bee

Hey John, thank you for your honesty. You have been given excellent support from the previous posts. Here's the tough part: you have come up against your own fear, doubt and anxiety, and it is winning. There are always choices that we can make. The vast majority of the work I do is to focus on feeling good and positive. I was taught a long time ago that if we don't work out our negativity it will work us out. And believe me when I write that this work is as hard as writing or learning lines for me. Along that vein, here's some of what I do: I have audio and visual positive subliminals on my computer, I always keep social media positive. THIS MAKES ME FEEL GOOD. If I can't respond in a positive way, I will write nothing. This is never about us being right. It's about being supportive. I truly feel good when I read about other people's successes, I have a few people in my life that believe in me. That is enough, I read positive books, I exercise, I am on over 10 websites I monitor every couple of days for opportunities, And above all, I constantly monitor my feelings and work on staying connected to my great dream. When I get scared or block, which is often, I simply don't write. I work on myself until I feel positive again. This is hard and painful. I wish for you to keep pushing and moving into your dream.

John Luerding

@Terri.. it is like gambling... just one more spin... just one more bet... just one more swing of the axe... it is always just one more....

John Luerding

I appreciate everyone's support thank you so much. I'm glad to see that I'm not the only tired fish in the pond. I guess, as one person put it. It doesn't cost me a dime to write for myself. So that in a nutshell is what I will do. I know there are a limited number of people here.. very limited that have had some success or partial success but I won't sink money into some one else's money pit. Just not worth it to me...$45.00 pitch sessions.. na...$50.00 entry fees for festivals.. na.. It adds up. As I once saw on a Dr.Phil Talent agencies... good ones.. don't charge fees until you are picked up. So to that end I won't let an organization charge me a fee until I know I'm signed. I may never get signed.. and well that is life. BUT..if I do get signed, I know it will be at considerable less financial pain.

Andrew Bee

Hi again, John. Here's a bit of trivia for you: The Back to the Future script was rejected 40 times before it got a green light!

Stephen Barber

John, I've been reading this thread. I have empathy for your emotion...however, before you (trim your aircraft for best angle of glide speed), as you've been shot down too many times; please read this book. Pick it up on Amazon or anywhere you wish, but I can promise/guarantee you one thing, either it be your writing or your pride, if you read this book with an open mind, I can assure you that you won't talk yourself out of the life you desire. "Resilience" by Eric Greitens.

Laddie Ervin

Give up. If you can't give up, get back to work.

William Martell

1) Stop spending money. You can equery managers and production companies for free. I have no idea why anyone would pay some middle man. 2) If you don't get any bites, something is wrong with your bait. Have you taken a good hard look at your script and it's concept and used what is wrong with this script when writing the next script? If you keep getting "no"s again and again, that script and its concept stinks and you need to learn from the mistakes and move on. If it's multiple scripts that get "no"s you need to figure out what you are doing wrong and stop doing that. 3) If you aren't getting bites when pitching, the ideas are the problem. If you gets bites from pitching and then they aren't interest after reading the script, the writing is the problem. 4) How many scripts have you written? The average pro screenwriter never made a cent until writing 9 screenplays, so if you have only written 8, you are that guy in the cartoon above. 5) Cheaper and easier than making your own movie is writing it as a novel. Writing is writing. You can self publish a novel at no cost to you.

J Medina

If you have honestly looked at your work and have decided that you are happy with it, that you believe in it, then there's NO REASON to quit. I've been there, but listen: I could provide you with a litany of great artists from every form of art that were turned down dozens if not hundreds of times. Imagine if they had quit? I'm with you as far as spending the money goes. I've decided ONLY to buy those pitches that are looking for EXACTLY the kind of stuff I'm writing. For example: I've written a faith-based comedy. I used to buy as many pitches as I could for companies looking for "comedies" until I realized that they weren't looking for the TYPE of comedy i'd written. So I'm gonna limit my pitch buying to those looking SPECIFICALLY for faith based films and only if they are OPEN to comedies. Good luck, my friend and don't ever give up! I don't know if God is a part of your life, but if He is, pray on it. Hang in there, brother!! God bless you!!

Chanel Ashley

John, you're no orphan, most of us have experienced that emotion - I like Pierre's advise, keep writing and ask for peer reviews - keep writing, because one definitely improves with each new work - William Martell also has good advise, especially the need to have written in the vicinity of 9 screenplays, the difference between 1 and 9 is astonishing, I can vouch for that - so kid, keep writing, exchange reviews, sure, it's a process, but a necessary one - cheers.

Quintin Tobias Franklin

Keep it going... Don't stop you are closer to that "yes" than you think...

Brian Fire

Hang in there john. This a can do this. The dance isn't over till you quit. Everything thing up to that point is just another experience.

David Levy

You need to be stronger than the vacuum that pulls you down. I have put a lot out over the past year on education, pitches, conferences, etc as well. No placements, some script requests that all passed. I press on though. I do not let that vacuum pull me down. I force myself to be stronger than the suction of giving up and failing. If you love something enough you will bever give up on it. Nothing great ever came easy. Rejection is the name of the game. Be strong.

Phil Bourassa

John, have you considered just going forward with a project, instead of waiting for someone else's approval? I've found that, if you have a property you REALLY believe in, something you think has true potential, sometimes the only way to get it done is to just do it. It may not make you millions of dollars or make you famous, but it will get your film made. The question is: are you writing something for it's artistic merit or it's commercial value? If it's for it's own merit, you may have to compromise on the production and get decent actors who also see it's value and want to be part of it. If it has real commercial potential, don't wait to be discovered. Get a professional account on IMDB (far less expensive than a pitch festival) and post the log line and casting call. I guarantee you will find people who are interested. I recall seeing an interview with a writer who said the most devastating day was the day they received their final rejection on a property. They had officially submitted it to every agent in Hollywood. They compiled a list of the agent's names and their reason for rejection. Some told them the characters were under developed, others said they were overwritten. One told them that nobody would make a movie about poker. Another told them there were already 3 poker movies in production. A month later, he had somehow gotten it to a studio executive who picked it up. He began receiving a flood of calls from agents BEGGING for meeting to explain why they should let them represent him. He happily looked up their names and read back their reasons for rejection. The film was "Rounders." If you wait for the approval of others, you will never be in control of what you're doing. If you believe in it, just go do it and don't worry about what they say.

Philip Sedgwick

Hey John, Every writer I know, myself included, has had our dark hours of despair. The thing to know is that writing etches into your DNA, shifts your psyche, and likely you'll return to it if you take a break. For me, and other writers I know, the juice of the writing process is addictive. My two cents: Don't quit or shelve it. I did a long time ago and I lost contacts, momentum, and years of progress. I regret the lost time, especially now that I am a "mature" screenwriter (with many immature characters on pages). Get mad. Spit, stomp, yell at whatever you think is clocking out life and seizing your fate. Then get your butt back to work. After what reasonable time? I don't know. A couple weeks, maybe. Not months. The thing to review: why didn't those rejecting your work get it? Figure that out. Then decide if they never will get it (at which point self-produce), or how can you better translate your ideas to the 4-quad (M/F over and under 25) demographics Yes, it seems that the sharks are eager to feed of the insecurities of writers. It sounds like: You'll never be good enough without my coverage, notes, rewrite or what have you. But if you're pitching and getting hit hard, maybe a class or two at a community college or online from someone who knows their stuff and from whom you get good vibes. Read some scripts... those that have sold for big bucks or won awards - which are often two very different things. Find your voice. Also, this is a relationship-based industry. How can you build real, live, in-person relationships with those who are in the industry? Write on...

Leopoldo Bolaños Cacho

The story of my life for the past 30 years. But now I decided to go indie and do it myself... enough waiting ! Who is with me ????

Ricardo Islas

If anything, you do both. I've been doing the indie thing since the 80's, and it's worked for me. But I also once in a while shoot up to the big guys. I nailed a couple of not-so indie deals in my life that gave me money to keep supporting my indie low budget flicks. It's a matter of what's most important for you: destination or enjoying the ride?

Bill Costantini

"What a long, strange trip it's been." The Grateful Dead. Approximately a 500,000 script inventory...approximately 100,000 new scripts registered every year...approximately 1,500 movies made globally on an annual basis....approximately 120 spec scripts sold last year...approximately 60 of those were previously unsold writers....WGAW writers who are working and earning money is down approximately 15% over the last five years....BUT IN OTHER NEWS..... .......women still are prohibited from driving in Saudi Arabia.......human trafficking still exists in China and many other countries.......children with disabilitiies in Russia don't get the same school privileges as children without disabilities......ISIS systematically rapes, sexually assaults and forces women into slavery....and over 3,000,000 children die every year from starvation, even though there is enough food for everyone on this planet. Chin up, mate, things could be a lot, lot worse for you.

Andrew Bee

Kind of helps with the perspective, Bill. Great post!

Baljinder Singh Gill

John, I know where you're coming from. It was in 2007 that I commenced my first writing course and since then I've spent thousands trying to get somewhere in the industry. This includes competitions, hosting sites, pitches, education and training courses, hosting sites, coverage and feedback services. I dare not total it up but I reckon it's around 15k. However I believe I'm finally at a stage where I'm on the verge of breaking in. I'm very proud of my recent work and I know it's a case of when not if. Spending all that money, going through the journey was all necessary to get me to this point. The way I look at it is that I'm investing in my career just like anybody else would in any other industry to get towards the top of it. I think you have to ask yourself two key questions - is being a successful screenwriter one of the top priorities in your life and is your writing improving? If it's a yes to both, then don't give up on the dream. No way!

Jason Horton

I know it doesn't help always to hear other's good news. But I was literally 24 hours from being out on the street when I scored a script sale and got a director job all in the same day. One day can change everything. Keep plugging away.

Geoffrey Calhoun

Get coverage! You can do this for free on the American zoetrope. Where peers review each others scripts. Then look for patterns about what people say about our script. And do lot take their critique personal. Don't give up !

Anthony Varon

I am right there with you sometimes. The best advice I can give you is to develop a good support team if you don't already have one that can help you with ideas, do networking and constantly be encouraging you in spite of things that are going on! Trust me, I had a feature sit on the shelf for 6 years and it was so frustrating and NOW we are about to make our feature next summer! Don't quit!

Craig D Griffiths

@John I am one of those people you just want to punch in the face, I write because I love it. I am like you, I haven't turned over any real money. So I will continue to work to support my writing. The one thing that makes me happy about this situation, is that if money wasn't an issue and all things being equal, I would choose to write. I am a soccer fan. The Australian striker Harry Kewell was going to retire after being dropped from Liverpool in the UK. The Aussie coach got him to connect with his love of the game, he played on for another six years and two World cups. I hope this helps.

Geoffrey Calhoun

You can also post it on this website and ask others to read it.

Marc Morgenstern

Try a life time movie. A simple romantic comedy or a christmas story. Easy to shoot - non offensive, maybe even throw a little religion into it, and you'll probably sell something.

Sonibel Rae

Hey John, I don't know if this will help any but there is a Pitch competition for Napa Valley which puts you in front of people from Weinstein and Netflix the entry fee is only 10 dollars. I know how you feel about spending money, I currently had to take my script of The Blacklist site because I just couldn't afford to keep it up there and it wasn't doing much apart from the feedback I paid to get. Since, I'm very very broke right now I only scarcely enter my work into anything and usually only if its under 15 dollars but that usually requires entering very very early on so it's more of a case of being aware at all times. But I totally agree with what people are saying here about getting your own stuff produced. I am currently writing a web series which my friend will be directing and I am going to be applying for three separate grants and we will be starting a crowdfunding campaign to get our work made and out there. The collaboration of working with my friend is really helping me grow as a writer as she is very creative and gives me great notes. So yes, I think it is good to connect with people on the same wave length and to make something with them as not only will it be a wonderful experience you may spot weaknesses in your writing that you can build upon so when you edit scripts or write new ones you know what to look out for and work harder on and maybe those rejections will flourish into acceptances. I think we are all too familiar with rejection letters. But remember, it only takes one yes to turn it all around.

Nkosi Guduza

Watch Mississippi Grind (2015) ;)

W. Keith Sewell

I hear a lot of suggestions to "produce your own work" or "make it into a web-series..." that seem to be 'off-the cuff' and 'spur of the moment' solutions to your problem of getting exposure for your work. It's not. It takes even more time, energy, preparation, research, organizational skills, etc., etc., ecetera to produce an original work. And if you think producing TV and film projects on a low-low, you should try theater - there are no second takes! I am grateful for the experience, because it keeps me from panicking in anticipation of my upcoming shoot. Still, I've never been so excited to get back to hands on producing. After marketing my feature scripts for 6 months, It was time to start producing the show myself, if its good enough, slick enough and (most important) funny enough - it will find its audience and possibly get buyer attention. TIP: In situation-comedies, sets and location are low on the priority list. Conflicting characters who are "joined at the hip" due to the situation, are essential for a proper run. Dialogue' is the engine that runs your story. Timing, pace,...Comedy writing is so subjective, he really don't know if it works or not until the table read and rehearsals. Good luck! If you make the decision to produce it yourself, do so after due diligence into what it may cost and the benefits of 'DIY' filmmaking... Whenever I hear, "I'm not getting any reads or serious attention on my scripts, so I've decided to create a web-series". I cringe and wonder if they are aware of what's all involved in producing your own work. I am... 1st, make sure your script is shootable on a micro-budgeted script. Minimize sets, locations, and production costs as much as possible, because you will need every dime for distribution and marketing costs. Direct it towards your targeted audience, on social media look up and follow groups who represent your targeted group. Like someone stated above, come up with an interactive informational site or an issue that your targeted audience is most interested in talking about. Do your homework and make sure you follow through on that decision, if you want to be taken seriously.

Regina Lee

Hi John, as human beings, none of us enjoys seeing another person upset. I'm sorry you're feeling discouraged. Here's a post I wrote to a guy who wanted to know how to become a producer. There are no easy answers. But I wanted to say, at the very least, that there are legit ways to break in without the "pay pay pay pay" problem you describe. However, this methodology also requires massive risk and as they say, you gotta want it. "Hollywood" isn't the only industry that has barriers to entry. Every industry where supply exceeds demand is tough to break into. But yeah, there are ways to break through. Try your college alumni network. The "how to be a producer" post -- Hi Martin, nice to meet you. Are you talking about "Hollywood" producing or independent producing, with no reliance on Hollywood? If you go indie, assemble your team, pool some funds, and just do it! At the very least, you can put your show on Vimeo or YouTube, or you can self-distribute on VHX. On the other hand, "Hollywood" is a business of apprenticeship and relationships, just like many other industries. You make the leap after college. You work your way up by interning, becoming an assistant, becoming a junior exec, getting promoted, etc. You build your network along the way. Since you're an adult already with a great job, it would be a big leap of faith for you to "start over" in Hollywood. I would hate to advise anyone to leave your stable life behind to start at the bottom in Hollywood and roll the dice. So how does anyone "skip a step"? You have to bring something to the table that is valuable enough to allow you to skip the bottom rungs of the ladder. Typically, that means you bring in financing (your own equity or from partners) or you bring in a piece of valuable material (e.g. "the next Harry Potter"). If you bring value in, you can skip the steps of being the newbie in Hollywood, working your way up the ladder. Best of luck.

C. D-Broughton

John, Some kids want to grow up to play football professionally. Some treat it as an idle dream, others give it their all and some make it to the youth academies of Premiere League sides. Some players are just unlucky with injuries, or don't get that lucky break; some play semi-professionally and settle for that... the few - the ones the next generation admire - are the ones who make it. But, life's short, John, and after a while you have to ask yourself, "Have I given it my best shot? Am I being realistic about my talent? Would I be happier if I knocked it on the head and got on with my life?" These are questions that only you can answer. I always see all these "NEVER GIVE UP!" comments, but let's be honest: are they useful? Whatever your decision, John, I wish you all the best in life.

Cherie Grant

I'm with CD and was trying to figure a way to say the same thing, but he said it better.

Talia Price

I understand your frustration. I think you should do what you feel is best. No one else has the answers but you. As CD said, life is short, and you make the most of it, because you only have one life.

Essence Laurel Jones

Invest in yourself. Go to kickstarter or gofundme and raise the funds to do an independent film.

Mark William Chambers

At the end of the day, writing should be your escape. Try to go back to that place where you didn't feel the pressures of sell or agent. Just write for yourself, don't think too much about it. Take one day at a time.

Michael Eddy

John: Dawn M. wrote "Every so called failure is a step closer to success". I must respectfully disagree. Every failure is not "so called" - it is what it is. And if enough of them pile up - then maybe it's the cosmos trying to tell you something. You headed your post with "Exhausted" and it certainly sounds as if you might be - with writing, and for understandable reasons. Some people like to keep hitting themselves in the head with a hammer because it feels so good when they stop. If you're ready to stop - for whatever your personal reasons - then I would advise you to do so. This business eats its young. It has very little conscience. It doesn't care. There is a built in natural attrition rate for those who, like yourself, have fought the good fight and are tired of running into brick walls and say "enough" and move on. It happens. A lot. The success rate for screenwriters - even when you break it down into sub-categories (men/women, over 40, over 50, TV vs. film) is ridiculously small in terms of success. No one here knows your life or what your threshold is or how talented you are. Do you have another job to pay the bills? A family to support other than yourself? Another vocation that would make you happy besides writing? Is it a hobby or an aspiration or a single-minded quest for you? Only you can take all those factors into account. Coupled with the expense of trying to get your foot in the door by doing things which cost you out of pocket and which you can no longer afford. I've been there. I started out single, beholden to no one, believing in myself. It's a game of steps and each person has to decide for themselves how long they can run, walk, trudge, limp toward that elusive finish line (a sale and an income from writing). There are no formulas - so all this prattle about a 9 script average etc. is just that. Each person travels their own singular path to success or failure. I was writing for years - keeping expenses low - and finally gave myself a self-imposed deadline - an 18 month outlook set to end on my birthday. I kept writing during that period of time - and as luck would have it (and don't kid yourself - it takes talent - but also a very healthy dollop of luck and good timing) - I signed with an agent and literally ON MY BIRTHDAY - the deadline birthday - one of my scripts sold. This is not meant as an incentive to go on - because it is only my story - and unlike that cartoon with the guy inches from hitting diamonds when he walks away - some walk away and never know that if they'd kept going - they would have broken through to a wall of seawater on the other side and drowned. If you feel like you're drowning now - and exhausted - and throwing good money after bad - than my simple advice - after this long winded response - is to follow your gut and walk away. Do something else. Something that (lacking success as a writer) might actually make you happy and less frustrated - and do that. You can't ask someone to give more than 100% because sometimes your efforts are finite and carry an expiration date - and if you feel as if you've reached yours - than there's nothing wrong with changing your path. Either way, I wish you well.

Lauran Childs

Well said Michael Eddy. Good luck John!

David Taylor

Slip into the comfort of anther new world that you create. When you are ready. Come out again. Festivals, pitches and competitions are one thing, web stuff is another. Do it for YOU.

Fiona Faith Ross

I hear you. I've been there too. You need a change of scene. Take a break, a long one, physical, geographical or mental (ideally all of those). I've just visited family in Australia, and now I feel wonderful and ready to work again.

Bob Kiely

If you like the process, keep going forward, particularly if you have won an award or two, or otherwise have had readers like your work. . You know the old story, I became an overnight success after working at it for 30 years. You never know who may pop up to get you to the next ladder.

Talia Price

Well said Fiona. I think a change of scene is a perfect way to regroup. I that has been my main problem. I need to take some time out, change my scene and regroup and then get back to work. This is a very good discussion.

Michael Eddy

There's a natural attrition rate built into the business - its version of survival of the fittest. If John is indeed "exhausted" and ready to move on - those who offer further encouragement and remedies to recharge batteries and a 30 year plan are probably doing him a disservice. He doesn't need to be made to feel like a quitter - because he's not. I have always encouraged those who have a vocation or a calling that would make them EQUALLY happy (not MORE happy - just equally happy) - to do that. If John has crossed his personal finish line and looked around at the swarms who had better times - and decided that this race is not his strong suit - then he should move on. If there are others among you that feel that more training and diet will improve your times and keep you running - than do it - but don't project your own goals and limits and timetable on him.

Andrew Bee

This is one of the few threads that I have followed this far. When I look at the massive response it has generated, most of it positive, I understand the chord it has struck. As creatives, most of us come up against that horrible, negative, hopeless, bad, terrible, powerless feeling of having given it our all, everything we have, to no avail. When we simply see no direction in which to move. We are trapped by our own feelings and actions. What to do? Quit, join the rest of humanity, and find a soul crushing job that pays our bills while we die a slow death of bitterness and what if? All I know, and I have decades of experience, is that I choose, over and over again, to connect to my love, as hard as it is, and face my fear, doubt and anxiety. I choose to believe that my angst is not greater than I. For me, the only life worth living is for the few that have a dream and have the courage to go after it. This is always, "The Road Less Travelled."

W. Keith Sewell

Try this one thing before you throw in the towel, because even though know one can tell you when it's time to give up and move on... I don't see you putting in all this time and effort, ( I don't know how long, but you show the signs of someone wrestling with ending a long term abusive relationship), if you did not have a real passion for what you are trying to do. So in some cases, giving up is not an option either. But before you do, do this one thing: In every town, city or state you will find groups of people who also like to tell stories and express themselves through writing. Join these writers groups, it won't cost you a dime. Pitch your stories and ideas to other writers and get real time feedback on the hook and strength of your storyline, before launching into a 100 page script. Network, network, and network... See, you're feeling the doubts about your talent, in a big way. We all go through this while waiting for some reader, agent, or producer to confirm what we feel we know, that we got what it takes to run this race. Professional writers are confident in their ability to spin a cinematic story worth someone else's money, but they may have doubts about the one their currently investing time and energy in after a couple of months of rejections, and move on to something else. I was told by a constantly working writer, do not dally too long on one project. Move on to the next great idea and get excited all over again. So, join a few groups, and get some of that much desired feedback you may be looking for, it may not be on the level of a professional consultant, but it could be very constructed in regards to what you are currently working on. Good luck. Look up for your area for specialized meetup groups of all interests.

Michael Eddy

To Andrew and Mr. Sewell - clearly you didn't take my most recent post to heart and feel the need to impose your own feelings onto those of Mr.Luerding. To each his own. That's all I'm saying. The fact that he posted here - and began his thread with "exhausted" speaks volumes to me. To encourage him to join a local writers group - populated by others who are in all likelihood no further along the path to success than he - and to get THEIR input and feedback - is rather ridiculous. All you're doing is pushing him into a pack of enablers. To Mr. Bee - this guy is already in a "soul crushing" situation - and you're telling him not to trade that for one which may prove to be less abusive to his soul - when in fact, another line of endeavor might be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that writing hasn't been for him. Take it from me - I've done this a long time - and quite successfully - and as a writer - even in success - you're still the low man on the totem pole - and the writing game - even when you're selling and cashing checks - can still be pretty soul crushing. Connecting "over and over" to your "love" is like a couple staying in a bad marriage for the sake of the children. If the marriage is bad - you're doing the kids a favor by getting out of it - and not keeping them in foxholes in your battlefield - and getting on with your life - and maybe, just maybe - finding a partner who's a better fit - and living more happily. Maybe even ever after. The best thing that Mr. Luerding did was to post this thread - and expose his feelings here on this site and ask for the collective knowledge of the other denizens of the screenwriting posts in helping to make up his mind - even though IMO - it was already made up and he was just looking for agreement from others. What he reaped was a gamut of feelings and emotions and encouragement (for the right or wrong reasons) and ideas - some at odds with him and one another. He should be able to make up his mind based on all of the well thought responses above. Either clear his plate and palate from the writing game and move on, or take up the gauntlet one more time and tilt at those elusive windmills. As I said before - whatever his choice - HIS choice - I wish him well.

Emily Hu

I wasn't going to get in on this discussion since I still consider myself a beginning screenwriter and thus not an expert in this field. Then I remembered I'm an expert in another field: that is, psychology. John, it sounds like you're feeling really beaten down and full of despair. Many people on this thread seem to understand what that feels like, myself included. However, I think it's also important to remember that feelings aren't forever. A situation may not change but your feelings about it will. That said, if you have been considering quitting for a long time and believe, after considerable thought, that it's the right choice for you at this point in time, by all means lay this by the wayside and try something else for a while. Focus on you, because you can't write if you're not emotionally healthy. On the other hand, if this is the first time you're feeling this way (or this strongly), I would seriously consider taking a step back and waiting for a few days. It may be that you still feel ready to quit two or three days from now, and if so, that's okay. But there's also a chance you'll feel differently. Most of us, if we were to suddenly fall into a pit of quicksand, would squirm and wriggle and do everything to get out, only to sink faster. I'm encouraging you, if you're in the quicksand, to slow down, take a deep breath, and wait to see if your friend comes back with a rope. Please understand that I am not advocating either path here. I think there are benefits to both, really, especially when it comes to your feelings and your self-worth. I just don't want you to make an impulsive decision and regret it later, whether that is staying in the game and continuing to beat yourself up over more rejections, or quitting and then always wondering "what if". My two cents, for what it's worth.

Michael Eddy

Emily - from a psychological standpoint - your post is right on point. Well said. But I've counseled people to get distance from a newly minted first draft by putting it in a drawer for a few weeks and then coming back to it with a "fresh eye" before taking another pass at it. So I'm not sure that John thinking things over for only 2-3 days will make much of a difference. He needs a longer sabbatical than that on a matter of this import.

Robert Herold

Thoughtful and hopefully helpful comments from both Emily Hu & Michael Eddy. I agree that some time and distance may provide the perspective and healing one needs before contemplating a major change of course in one's life, especially when facing a lot of head-wind. Another thought (after a break) is to tack in a slightly different direction -- perhaps another form of writing (or artistic endeavor) will feed the creative soul and provide more success. In any case, most creative people I know have a lot of irons in the fire. Best wishes, John!

Ron Dean

@John, I know how you feel. I wanted to write all my life but didn't try it seriously until I was 38, too late to write for TV ... one thing I've learned about the 'pay me' ticket is this- it's really about networking. So now I'm investing more time in networking than I am competitions and trying to submit endless query letters to agents/producers, etc.

Bob Kiely

It may be too late to write for a spec comedy, but certainly not for drama or saga type series. I think the writer and creator of Downton Abbey is in his 60s. So's Spielberg and Cameron, and should I mention Mel Brooks, who was doing great stuff in his 80's . Larry Gelbart re-wrote and was the winning touch on Tootsie well into his 60's. Also, th largest growing audience for TV is the baby boomers.

David Levy

Ron: 38 is only too late for TV if you think it is. There are many in their 40s who have gotten in. There was a writer from here, Michael Madden I believe, in his mid 50s who was discovered on here by Benderspink from a contest or pitch I believe. The rep from APA who did my script coverage never told me I was too old and I'm 40. Sees potential. If you can't get in through the front door, try the ceiling.

Ron Dean

David: I hear it's pretty hard to get in to serial/TV writing if you're over 42, I've actually read articles about it titled with words like 'discrimination'. However, I keep writing pilots and working on serials! They gotta sell someday!

David Levy

I've read articles as well. But you can't always go by what others say. Follow your own path. Become so good at what you do and write they can't ignore you.

Talia Price

David Levy I agree with you. I had no idea there was an "age limit" for writing scripts for TV. I thought it all depended on the story and the idea. Maybe I am naive. But if there ever an age limit to live your passion. I think, we, people, put limits on to ourselves. Art has no limit, and if you want to write for TV at 50 then go ahead. Write!

David Levy

They don't like newbie writers over a certain age because of the responsabilities someone over 40 might have. Family, needing to be the breadwinner, energy level, not working their way up through the system, etc. The younger you are the fewer commitments you have and can dedicate more time, especially if single. But if you prove your worth and dedication to show how committed you are then how could they ignore your passion?

Brian Fire

Age plays the role you allow it to. Keep on trucking and understand everything you are going through...are experiences. EVERYONE will experience MUCH of the same type of situations. Only a select few will get the nod. Do NOT get caught up with how someone else journey goes...or THEIR advice. YOUR situation will depend on YOU! You have to sell yourself and you have to choose a path that will get you what you want. You only fail when you quit. Hang in there!!! Try a different approach after taking a little break to re fuel yourself.

David Levy

See, Brian gets it!

Ron Dean

David: That' makes better sense than half the articles I've read as to the reasons 'why' 40-42 is the 'age limit'. One thing that has kept my hopes up is hearing the number of rejections that shows like Stargate SG1 received, before being picked up and running for 10 seasons. I keep plugging away, if there's one rule to writing it's that you have to write. I'm hoping to build some solid networking on this site.

David Levy

Eric Kripke first wrote the TV series SUPERNATURAL as a feature film. He rewrote it a few times and was getting nowhere then turned it into a TV series. It took him 10 years to get it sold and it's been on the air 10-11 seasons. Never give up!

Brian Fire

Good stuff David Levy!!! I'm 50 and plan on being in the game a while. I hope John doesn't pack it in...wishing him a healthy new approach to the dance.

David Levy

We can say all the cliches we want. Winners never quit, quitters never win, etc. There are days I want to give up, thinking the mountain is too steep to climb. But when you know in your heart you have what it takes, you traverse that mountain no matter what it takes. Even if you have to go over the highest part of the Rockies in a Cooper Mini, do it! If it was easy, everyone would be successful at it. It's the hard that makes us better and stronger in the long run.

Michael Eddy

To those talking about an age limit in TV - don't worry about it. Good writing is good writing. Others have talked about "experience" and having stories to tell - also true. Almost everything on "Modern Family" comes from the writers room and sitting around ratting out your own family members and their peccadilloes etc. and turning it into weekly gold. And most of that staff is well over 40. That being said - the writers who've been mentioned here (Larry Gelbart, Mel Brooks etc.) all established themselves as much younger men - and had a lot of success. They didn't get less funny as they grew older - and they had a sterling comedic track record to pave their road. Where age is a possible (negative) factor (and there was a successful class action lawsuit, discussed on another thread, against "grey listing" of writers over 40) is for those who are only beginning post 40 (or well past 40...) who have NO track record and no credits and are newbies at an age when many others have been there/done that and so are continuing to do that (with a ton of series and not enough show runners/vets to go around). The series and networks continue to scramble for a limited pool of established talent (the same goes for the actors - as they go from one series to the next - Peter Krause from Parenthood just replaced another actor in a new series after the pilot) - and aren't exactly beating the bushes for "new writers" past 40 or 50 or 60 - trying to break in. Far be it for me to discourage anyone from following a dream - but you have to be realistic as well. Know what you're getting into. Talent is at a premium - but luck and timing also play an oversized role.

Michael Eddy

Jeez - if the poor guy was "exhausted" when he started this thread - plowing through all this "advice" is gonna put him in a coma.

Emily Hu

Someone should aggregate everything said in this thread into a blog post of some sort. ;) We could title it "We're All in the Same Boat". ("We're all Tromping Through the Same Pile of Sh*t" is just a mouthful.)

Ye Er

I understand. That's why this is so hard.

Robert Parera

I would rather fail than pay someone to listen to me. Once I heard a Guy say to someone, if your going to beat a dead Horse, have the common sense to change instruments once in a awhile.

Robert Parera

Ms Hu, I like you wit.

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