The Power of Persistence: Should You Give Yourself a Do It By or Quit Date?

One of the interesting comments I hear from time to time is that a writer is giving their screenwriting career another year or two to see what happens, and then they’re going to quit if something doesn’t happen.

This is all good except for one thing.  A fact of the universe is that you don’t get to say when your big breakthrough success happens.  You can’t determine it – and this is true for all of life.

Yes, you can plan, take action, and do everything you can to make it happen when you want, but ultimately, you must be willing and committed to persist until it happens.

Imagine that a contractor got hired to build a beautiful architectural wonder, and they have a due date by which it’s supposed to be done.  But then imagine that for some weird and unexpected reason, they can’t get all of the marble they need to finish the interior, and it causes a three-or-four week delay on their ribbon-cutting ceremony.  Now they’re behind schedule.

Just because they got behind on their schedule doesn’t mean they should forget the whole project and tear it down.  No. They won’t make as much profit and some people will be disappointed, but they’ll continue to move forward, re-work the schedule, then do their ribbon-cutting ceremony a bit later.

It’s the same with your screenwriting career, whether it’s finding an agent or getting your dream producer on board by marketing your script.  It’s fine to have a goal for a given time, but don’t be attached to the timing and don’t say you’re going to quit if it doesn’t happen by such and such date.

There’s also nothing wrong with deciding that you are actually done with pursuing a screenwriting career — if you really are.  When I first started, I was pursuing professional work in both acting and screenwriting. I was doing everything I knew to do at the time to make it happen. Some good things did happen. But at some point, I got crystal clear that I did not want to do either of those. I wanted to do something related to them – which is my business now — but I was done pursuing acting and screenwriting.

I didn’t quit those things because I had a deadline. I was just done and moved on.

The point is… it’s great to set a schedule and have a plan, just as with constructing a building, but you must be so committed to it happening that even if you get off–schedule, you’re going to keep at it till you reach your goals.

Here are the three things you must do to relate to it that way:

1. Develop a mindset of persistence.  

Be single-minded about what you want. The clearer you are the better — but only if what you are clear about is authentic for you. If it’s not really authentic and you’ve forced your mind to pretend your clear when you’re not, you’ll waste a lot of energy on the subject and not even realize it, because you’ll have hidden resistance to it.

2. Take action consistently.  

You can wish, hope, and will things to happen in your mind, but if you don’t take action outside of your mind, you might as create the success in your mind, too, because with no action, that’s the only place it’s going to happen.

3. Do it for as long as it takes to achieve the success you desire.  

Find the right balance for you between setting a goal that pushes or pulls you forward and the openness to allow things to happen in their own right time. It’s the fine line between pushing forward too hard and being too comfortable where you are.  You need to find just enough push to be motivating and just enough comfort to be able to optimize your performance — as it relates to writing and marketing your screenplays.

Anything other than operating from this space and you will cause yourself unneeded additional suffering and worry.

And by the way, we all are always negotiating this space when we have goals. Don’t feel badly if you find yourself either being too comfy where you are or so dissatisfied that you are not able to do your best in some area.

We all do this, but by understanding this idea of the always getting back to that fine line of balance between these opposing forces, it will give us our best chances of success.

To reiterate — don’t give yourself an ultimatum with a “quit by” date. But if at some point you get to the place where you are crystal clear you’re ready to quit and move on, don’t feel badly about that decision.

Meanwhile, settle in to your career and get to work.  Take action consistently.  Modify your actions as needed.  And repeat this until you have achieved the success that you desire.