Screenwriting : Is it worth it? by Kimberly Ruzich

Kimberly Ruzich

Is it worth it?

After reading a few of the discussions in here, I feel very depressed. So many of you have multiple scripts done, or in process. I have yet to finish ONE. It's the same concept I have been working on for years. Trouble is, I come home from vacuuming my brains out with the dry, boring, logical and analytical work of Accounting. I feel like such a loser that I can't accomplish what the rest of you have. I have no experience, no training, and apparently no will to do this. I tried to take a class on it from Lee Jessup, but I had NO clue what she was talking about most of the time, and I could not ask because the seminar was from 4 to 6pm,. and I don't get home from my bill paying job until nearly it is a lost cause. At what point do you throw in the towel and figure it is not worth it?

Dominic Wieneke

You just gotta push through. I work a soul draining day job but writing and filmmaking is my true passion. Find the time, even if it's 15 minutes a day. That all adds up over time.

Jacob Buterbaugh

Check out a book called The Coffee Break Screenwriter by Pilar Alessandra. I think it will help you.

Craig D Griffiths

You don't need permission to quit. Just stop writing. But, perhaps you are writing in the wrong form? Have you tried writing story stories, or even a short film? Don't get hung up on what you think needs to happen. I finished what I believed is a perfectly serviceable script only 39 pages. My wife read it and asked a lot of questions around a characters motivation. So it needs more character. It may grow to a feature and it may not. But it finished and complete fine at 39. I'll just move on. Try changing form of story telling and then just try accepting your stories are what they are. Complete in as many pages as it takes. Eventually you will find the story that is 110 pages of pure joy. Concentrate on the joy the act of writing brings you. Everything is a bonus after that.

Bill Costantini

Did you learn the discipline of accounting - the terminologies, methods, procedures and types - or are you just winging it and making it all up? (You don't have to answer that, obviously, since I'm sure you weren't just winging it.) + Screenwriting - and all art forms, really - are based in mathematics in many ways. I bet that, if you're an accountant, you can easily learn about drama, and how to write a screenplay. The bigger obstacle is in fitting it into your life. You really need to learn about the nature of drama, and the structure of screenplays. + That takes a disciplined approach, and doesn't happen quickly. You need a few of the basic books - like Syd Field's Screenplay; Linda Seger's Making a Good Script Great; and Ronald Tobias' 20 Master Plots and How to Build Them. You might also benefit by a structure like Save the Cat, which provides a "beat sheet" for where things are supposed to happen in those types of structured scripts. + You should watch films that you like and that are in the genre that you would like to write in, and get some of the scripts for them. Read them, study them and read them along with the films as you watch them. + You should have a huge white board/black board on your wall, and that you can use to then plot out your first script. Not everyone will agree with this process that I laid out, but it's a pretty comprehensive way to get you from Day 1 of Learning to Day 100 of Learning. If you're already an accomplished technician as an accountant, you may very well be able to learn the discipline of screenwriting and the structure of drama. Whether or not you have anything creatively valuable to write remains to be seen, but I wish you the best on your journey. Good luck and Happy Writing, Kimberly!

Margus Meigo

Better not use Caffee, it seems to help always, but in the end will put you to sleep and You discover it is still the one and the same.. style. Other stimulants at times in random way, is even better, to cut more near to solutions. Just.. do that more safely if You got home, if You not got home..then the safe feeling will fade away.. so You have to work on it also, and it will remove all the other work Highs you had build up in a mind and paper. But if You got home then yes, please, for no way, do not stop with a coffee only, it is a soul lock even,dark, i suspect, not as bad as cigarettes for heart connection, but still..

Margus Meigo

So what You want to Write about and why ?

Kimberly Ruzich

Jacob, yes, I just got that e-book. I also have Save the Cat,. The Screenwriter's Bible, The 90 Day Screenplay, Story, Essentials of Screenwriting, Your Cut To Is Showing, etc. Have I found the time to read any of them? Hardly. I tend to be ADD, so settling in and reading a book is a task unto itself. is entirely possible that I am in the wrong genre of writing. But, I love telling stories. So perhaps an e-book is what I need to concentrate on. Bill...yeah, I pretty much just made up rules and theories for Accounting as I went along. Faked my way into the career I have now for the past 25 years. hahahaha That actually sounds like a very decent plan. Thank you!

Fiona Faith Ross

Yes I agree. Take a step back from it. Give yourself a couple of days holiday from it and ask yourself what inspired you or what drives you to want to do this. Rediscover your passion. Apart from that, Kimberly, it sounds to me like you're knackered. You need to spoil yourself a little, rest up, eat your favorite food, go and see a favorite movie. Take a little break from your screenplay and come back to it fresh in a few days time, or even a few weeks. I have one screenplay that isn't working, and it has an unsolved problem that's bugged me for three years. I'm working on other projects right now, but after Christmas I shall look at it again and see how I can restructure the components to make a story that works. The reason? There are two characters in there I adore, and I don't want to abandon them. Find a similar emotional pull in your work.

Kimberly Ruzich

Margus...I wanted to write because I love making up and telling stories...the "what if" in life. Yes, the structure (not so much action vs dialogue vs character name in a script), but where do I go with what I am writing. How do I make it make sense? Sadly, self operation to get the ideas out of my brain and onto paper in a non boring sequence is out of the the real question becomes how to get myself to relax enough after I am brain spun from aforementioned loathed profession and allow the natural ideas to flow forth from my subconscious.

Kimberly Ruzich

Fiona that is BRILLIANT! I have not been to my favorite bar for Brunch and Blues in forever! I need to go next Sunday and recharge my batteries! Thank you!

William Martell

I drove a forklift for 10 years, and wrote a stack of screenplays. My goal was ONE good page every day. I wrote before going to work (after work I just wanted to sleep). One good page a day is 3 screenplays a year - and that's what I wrote. I had 30 screenplays by the end of that decade... when I quit because I sold a script to a company on the Paramount lot. I had an outline for each script which was broken down into estimated 5 page segments - so I could guess what part of the story and scene my page would cover. If I had a 2 page scene and a 3 page scene and then another 2 page scene - that was my week. I thought about tomorrow's scene while at work the day before. And slow and steady wins the race. One page at a time. They add up. But also what Craig said - why not write some short stories? Those are almost instant gratification because you get to THE END quickly and get that rush of accomplishment.

Michelle Ford

Never give up, as someone said, write on your lunch break if you feel up to it or if you commute by train or bus or UBER-write just a little, it all adds up. I have a day gig as well-I know how much energy it can suck out of you,but keep going. I always carry a small notepad in my purse and I have a small notebook in my work bag-one never knows when inspiration is going to happen. Keep us posted on your progress.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Kimberly: You've already received counsel from a lot of smart people. Look, if you really want to write a screenplay get something down on paper, whether it blows or not. I wrote an hour pilot in a week after reading "The Hollywood Standard" by Christopher Riley. You might want to download it from Amazon because it's and easy read and it really has a good foundation for learning script writing technique. It will teach you scene headings, direction, dialogue and many other basics. After I wrote that first pilot, I knew I loved writing screenplays and I band them out quickly. But, I'm continually reworking them as I go along. Being a screenwriter is process that requires some discipline, study and empirical learning. It's also a process of continual evolution. But don't make it such an onerous process. Start by writing something for fun but work the material every day. Whether you get 2 pages or 10 pages, just finish something. But start with writing an outline or two-page synopsis with a beginning, middle and end but deliberate less about what your doing wrong and focus on writing. Also I recommend going to youtube to watch a tutorial on using Final Draft or whatever software you're going to work with. Stop making excuses and write your first screenplay. Whether it's good or not it'll be yours forever; or until the warranty expires.

Pierre Langenegger

Most of us still have day jobs that doesn't revolve around writing. Just try to find some time that you can dedicate to write.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Wow, great comments! :) Kimberly, I'll just add that comparing yourself to other writers is a really really good way to feel really really bad. So don't do it. Consider this: no one can write like you. Every writer has a different method/process—discover yours. But in order to do that: You. Must. Jump. In. Read other scripts, not with comparison but with an open mind: What can you gain? What can you learn? What inspires you? Then roll up those sleeves and get to work. Oh, but don't forget to have some fun too. ;) Best of luck with your writing!

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Beth: Great and encouraging post my dear!

Maroun Rached

Hi Kimberly! Maybe you are excessively critical of your own work: just write anything. You can set a target of one page per day, with no reviewing. You can always find one free hour in the morning, when everyone else is asleep. At this rate, you can complete one screenplay in 3 months, which is a good rate. Best of luck,

LindaAnn Loschiavo

Take a break. Do not write, do not think about writing. When / if you miss it very much, then pick up a pen again. It is not a field for everyone. There is no shame in not being a carpenter ---- there's no shame if you are not a writer. Go where you are happy.

Owen Mowatt


Kimberly Ruzich

Great comments, everyone...and very encouraging. Thank you, folks. Mouron...yes, I AM my own worst critic...probably while I am a writer. ;-)

Stevie T

To start, you could try writing short stories or flash fiction just to keep your hand in the game and not be daunted by the long road of a full-length script. You never know, an interesting idea or character may come out of one of these and develop into another screenplay for you. Writing is never a waste of time because you always learn something about yourself in the process. The other tip I might offer is to read, read, read. Read any piece of fiction you can get your hands on, good, bad, or indifferent, doesn't matter, you can learn from the best and the worst.

Jacob Buterbaugh

Maybe you could try breaking your big goal (feature script) down into a bunch of little goals. For instance, maybe you could come up with a title, then write a logline, then design your characters, then figure out your outline. And when you're writing the script, maybe only write 2 pages a day or whatever until you type FADE OUT... The idea here is to take it one step at a time. Sometimes I think we focus so much on the destination that maybe we scare ourselves out of taking the necessary steps to get there.

Stephen Barber

Beth has a great message (within) her message... Regarding 'an open mind' I posted last week about my experience at a Prestigious Script Contest Event, and I was fortunate to experience what I had. I realized that there were many, many, talented writers (all in one spot). Each one of them were "Finalists'/Winners' of a BIG contest. I spent some time talking with as many as I could, all to find out one significant thing... "I have much more in common with all of them than I thought." Start looking for the similarities in this world of writing and spend less time looking for differences. Learn from people who're doing what you want to do and just improve YOU. It will come, I promise.

Bill Costantini
  • Don't forget Bruce Lee's quote: "Absorb what is useful, discard what is not. Add what is uniquely your own." + Seeing that picture of you and a horse reminds me of Secretariat. That is a great story, based of course on the real life story of a very special horse, and some really great people. The gist of the story, though, isn't what happens on the surface, but what happens on the way to the climax. Those people were all wounded, and, through the phenomenon of humanity, and a great horse, resurrected themselves, rose and conquered. Of course, Big Red had a lot to do with that, but the characters DRIVE the story. Always. That's what great drama is all about. Check out the script and watch that beautiful movie. Good luck and Happy Writing, Kimberly.
Shawn Speake

Great thread! Kim, what got me is: "I tend to be ADD, so settling in and reading a book is a task unto itself." I believe writing requires settling in and reading. Tough Question.

Linda Bradshaw Rogers

Kimberly, Kimberly! What do you wish to accomplish? If it's screenwriting, do it. There is no mathematical equation that will resolve the problem at hand...except write and continue writing then submit it, get a pass, so what rewrite and continue to do so until you receive that recommend. Frustration, unfortunately, is a constant companion. BUT use it to fuel your writing energy and don't let it deplete your creativity and goal. Tackle it as if its an IRS audit...with all the facts (elements) lined up and sequentially lined up, you will do just fine. Let us know when you've CONQUERED!

Jorge J Prieto

Kimberly, we are all here for you. If writing is your first passion, follow the great advice by all the amazing artist here.. One page at a time, one day, one week or once a month. You're in control. "Believe you can and you're halfway there." Roosevelt.

Erica Benedikty
Kimberly Ruzich

This IS a thread full of wonderful, caring people with great responses! Thank you so much...I appreciate this more than you will ever know! I may take a few days before I get back to it...but I WILL get back to it! Thank you all again.

LindaAnn Loschiavo

@ Bill Constantini --- Medieval poet Chaucer wrote: "Taketh the wheat and let the chaff be still." People are still paraphrasing his statement. I enjoyed hearing Bruce Lee's version of Chaucer's wisdom. Thank you. Kimberly, I write every day and have for years. I support myself by writing and I can assure you not everyone is cut out for the life. No shame. No blame. Be happy.

Binesh Purushothaman

i am shot film director i want a good screen writer and a good film producer

Dan MaxXx

Im not gonna BS you with rah rah speeches but I haven't read anything in this thread about making movies. Your goal should be making movies. Surround yourself with filmmakers. Or write novels if you want to do it alone. Here is Rossio's article about "throw in the towel." Everything you want to know about Writing from an Insider. (And he aint charging).

Francesca Varisco

Hi Kimberly! I have no wise words but I think you just gave the best logline for a cool story in your post: "An accountant fakes her way into the career for 25 years, making up rules and improvising theories for Accounting as she goes along. But when her new boss tasks her with an impossible task and she contemplates being laid off, she is forced to stretch her imagination even further..." :)) Perhaps you could wrote that story ;) All the best!

Philip Singh

Hi Kimberly. I was in the same boat as you. I am currently writing my own stuff and only write when I can get into a groove. I use to write novels (I never published any) on my own but stopped and took up screenwriting after taking film courses in college. I had no idea how to do it. I bought a screenwriting course on groupon for twenty dollars and it helped me significantly. It's called Industrial Scripts. It doesn't tell you how to write, but it breaks down the entire business and the film terms that will help you write. It's like PowerPoint format and broken down to help you understand and improve your writing. This helped me so much and made me enjoy writing even more. My advice is don't give up. Try to write everyday, even one page, Even if it means to force yourself to do it. I am yet to finish one too, but it's great to stop one and do another. More ideas comes to you and you can improve it. And never quit! You never know, you could be writing the next great thing!

Dan Guardino

Kimberly. Everyone starts out writing a first screenplay. Like you, I wasn’t filed with a lot of confidence and wasn’t sure I could even finish writing my first screenplay. So instead of thinking of writing an entire screenplay I just focused on ten pages at a time until I got through it. I was not much of a reader and not even remotely what anyone would consider a writer. I have no special talent or knowledge. The only knowledge I got was from reading about twenty pages of a real crappy how-to-book. After struggling to get that first script under my belt I decided to try another one and another one. I just finished my 30th screenplay and sent it out to the producer yesterday. I didn’t say that to depress you but to encourage you to write screenplays and not worry about the results. Overnight success in this business normally takes years. However if a self-taught hack like myself can sell a screenplay or get hired to write one anyone can do it if they are willing to put in the time and work at it. Again, focusing on ten pages at a time is what helped me get through that first one. A lot of people here talk about selling a screenplay or getting hired to write one but nothing is as important or as satisfying as finishing that first screenplay. After that one it becomes easier and you can crank them out faster because it will eventually become natural and requires less thought.

Michael Fitzer

If this were easy then everyone would be making a gazillion dollars doing it. Don't give up. Take the time to learn the craft. Find a masterclass that works with your schedule and always remain teachable.

Josh Hughes

I'd say right where your head is right now is where it's not worth it. You need to change your attitude and make it work. If you can't see the bright side then it isn't meant for you.

Bill Costantini

LindaAnn - I feed the chaff to the pigs, and plow it into the soil, too. I'm an old country farmer, and I don't waste a nuthin'. Heh-heh.

Erik Grossman

The first screenplay is the hardest. Actually, that's a lie. The first screenplay is the easiest because you just have to finish it. What's hardest about the first screenplay is coming to the realization that whatever you just wrote probably sucks. Everybody's first screenplay sucks... but we spend so much time, and put so much of ourselves into finishing it that we literally can't fathom the prospect of it not being any good. But then the writing gets easier. Finishing a screenplay gets easier and you can focus less on just getting it done, and more on getting it done RIGHT.

Bill Costantini

My first screenplay was the easiest, too. That's when I was at my dumbest. It was dumb and easy.

Sam Borowski

Kimberly, as someone who does this full-time, not only as a screenwriter, but a producer and director, I will give you my thoughts. I have been through frustrating times before I got to a certain level, my own production company, office, etc, etc, but I don't think I felt the way you did. And, I say this next part with no ill-will, but I tell people things straight away. What I heard from you didn't contain any joy or passion for screenwriting? That is what concerns me most. John Travolta said - and I am paraphrasing his actual quote - "There are easier ways to make a million dollars. But, if you love this business, the money will come. You have to do it for the love of it." Now, this was quite a few years back, so again, I am paraphrasing majorly. I can tell you this, when you complete your first script, sell your first option, go to a multiplex for a film festival - or even better a theatrical movie screening - and see your name on The BIG Screen, hear the audience laugh in all the right spots ... when you win an Award at a festival .... when you eventually make a living in this business; these moments make it all worthwhile - the long run-on sentence notwithstanding. ;) You shouldn't feel like a loser by comparing yourself to others. My mom always said "Worry about yourself." The REAL RACE is against yourself, Kim. If you ever want advice or want to look into a script coach, look me up. I hope this helped. Onward and Upward and Stay Fresh! ;) ;) ;)

Kimberly Ruzich

Have I told you lately you all are the best! I've got a renewed appreciation for my writing. Going to work with a Life Coach to see about how best to transition from Accounting to Screenwriting. Sam, I PMd you about your Coaching offer....thanks again!

David Taylor

You are over thinking. Don't analyze it yet. Don't think. Just write. Fix it later.

Cherie Grant

Actually my first was my hardest because I knew that I didn't know enough and kept learning things and having to adjust it. Years later, I love it, but it still needs tweaking.

Bill Costantini

Sam - nice words and offer to Kimberly. If anyone hasn't seen Sam's film Night Club, I highly recommend that you see it. That is one of the most loving and reverent film about senior citizens that you'll ever see. That must have been a blast to direct Ernest Borgnine, Sally Kellerman, Paul Sorvino and Mickey Rooney. What a beautiful and loving film. And visually, you made that low-budget film look like a big budget film, too. Congratulations and extra kudos for being able to accomplish that, too. In bocca al lupo, Sam!

Theodore Nolan

If one of your goals is to finish ONE - Then I'd write a short script about your current inner conflict. After you're done - don't judge it. You might even find that the experience was fun and it could drive you to write more...

Kimberly Ruzich

Happy! Happy! Happy! I had a great conversation with Sam Borowski last night...we came up with a game plan which will be executed in the next week. Talk about the shot in the arm I needed...THANKS SAM!

Dan Guardino

Good to hear!!!

Kimberly Ruzich it's been a couple of weeks...Sam and I finished my first short, entitled "How Misandrist Are You?"

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