“Writing a screenplay is a marathon, not a sprint.”
Bet you’ve heard that one before, right?
It’s true. Learning how to write a screenplay takes time, let alone how to do it well. It might come easier for some, but no matter what your skill level is, it always remains a struggle.
And that feeling when you’re done (at least with the latest draft)? Euphoric sums it up quite nicely.
So that whole running metaphor is pretty apropros. Especially for me.
For those not in the know, I enjoy running half-marathons. Seriously.
I’ve run about a dozen or so the past few years. Like with the writing, it’s a self-imposed challenge and pushes you to keep moving forward. Believe me, there are definitely times during those races I just want to stop and catch my breath, but I don’t because I want to keep going and see what I’m capable of.
I usually finish somewhere just under 2 hours, which isn’t bad.
A few weeks ago, I ran a race in San Francisco and finished with a time of 2:02:56, which some might think is great, but I still considered a little disappointing.
This past weekend was another race – across the Bay in Oakland. The results of the previous race really shook me up. Was I once again going to fall short of my goal?
Only one way to find out.
I did my best to maintain a steady pace and continuously reminded myself that even though it was a challenge, I felt I had a pretty good handle on it. Oakland’s also a lot flatter than San Francisco, which probably helped.
The home stretch for this race is an 8-block-long straight line through downtown Oakland. At the finish line, there’s always a big digital timer. As I got closer, the numbers came into view.
1:54:30? Wow! And just a handful of blocks to go!
You know that feeling when you’re writing the last page of your script and FADE OUT is coming up fast and you get that sudden rush of adrenaline and you can’t believe the end if finally in sight?
Even though you’re exhausted and feeling totally spent, you can always find that hidden reserve of energy, which is just enough to get you to that goal.
Giving it everything I had, I poured on the speed (or at least as much as I could muster) and ran like a madman to that finish line.
End result – 1:54:59. Not only did I break the 2-hour mark, but I just squeaked by my other personal objective of breaking 1:55.
All that self-doubt from before had been erased. I had given myself a goal and set out to accomplish it.
Notice all those comparisons to screenwriting that could be made?
Every script is your own personal challenge. Sometimes it’ll be easy, and sometimes it’ll feel like nothing is happening, but the important thing is for you to keep at it and not stop trying to reach that finish line.
Like with training for these runs, it requires a lot of work. You find the time to do it when you can, hoping each session yields a slightly better result than the previous one.
My current work on the comedy spec coincides with this latest round of training for my next race – early November, and again in San Francisco. Both script and race will be a little more on the challenging side, but by engaging in regular training, I’m fairly confident I can achieve the results I seek.
A little stretching, a few deep breaths, and off I go.
Let’s get moving, chums.