Anyone else out there a fan of MMA (mixed martial arts)? No? Doesn’t matter, this lesson applies to any professional endeavor — including screenwriting.
So there’s this fighter named Benson Henderson. He’s got about as much genuine swagger as any human has a right to. And for a good reason — he steamrolls over most of his opponents.
After handily winning his last bout, he was almost in tears talking about how people have no idea how hard he trains for his fights.
Here’s a guy who you can tell by looking at him, and seeing him fight, has tremendous natural gifts. He’s one of the best fighters in the world, yet he still pushes himself to the breaking point during his training camps.
Gone are the days when some fighter, who merely dabbled in mixed martial arts, could rise to prominence off of luck or talent or connections alone. If you want to be successful in MMA, you have to embrace the grind.
It got me thinking. The same rule applies to screenwriters.
We may not risk traumatic brain injury every time we write a script (hmmm, that’s debatable), but we do have to compete with other screenwriters. Professional screenwriters. Professional screenwriters with agents and managers and industry credibility and one more thing…
A strong work ethic.
The successful screenwriters are the ones embracing the grind and putting in their hours of writing, networking, and keeping tabs on the industry. Every. Single. Day.
How on earth can you expect to compete with them (or other amateurs who are similarly inclined) if you’re only writing once in a blue moon?
This isn’t meant to depress you. It’s meant to explain the reality of the modern screenwriting business. It’s not an industry where dilettantes do well. You have to really want it. And you have to be really good at it. And you have to put the time in. Lots of time. That means lots of scripts.
If not, the screenwriting equivalent of Benson Henderson, or Ronda Rousey, or some up and coming amateur, is going to kick your ass. Because right now there are only a few coveted jobs or spec sales for screenwriters.
Bottom line is, if you you want to succeed — hell, if you just want make the fight competitive — you have to embrace the grind.