How Screenwriting Is Like Aerial Training – Part 2

Continuing last month’s theme with Part 2! – How Screenwriting Is Like Aerial Training (and probably other professions as well)

Surround yourself with people who are better than you

The aerial class I take is an advanced silks class. Usually I’m the worst one in class. It used to make me self conscious. But when I went down a level to an intermediate class, where I was one of the best in the class, I was still self-conscious and uncomfortable. I realized that I want to be the worst in the class, because I want to learn from people who are better than me. I don’t want to be the best in class. I don’t learn anything that way.

I once heard about screenwriting, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” So I follow a lot of writers on Twitter. I ask writers who are way better than me to read my work and give me their notes. Sometimes I have to wait awhile until their schedule clears up. And I always buy them lunch or dinner. And I always say thank you, even if they hate my script.

But! Don’t compare yourself to others

The surest way to implode in a spectacular Technicolor blast of writer goo is to read the Twitter feed of more successful writers as they announce their latest project or their standing in a writing competition while you trudge off to your soulless day job (bonus points if they’re actually people you know in real life.)

And if I wanted to, I could very easily implode in a spectacular Technicolor inflexible aspiring aerialist goo if I obsess over other aerialists. Look at their oversplits! Look at their graceful moves! Look at how effortless they make it!

(If I had any of my splits, I would just stay in them, all day long. I would watch TV in my middle splits. That’s how much I wish I had them. And maybe someday I’ll get there.)

But being jealous of what other people have, either their career progress or their flexibility, doesn’t do you any good. Get in front of that computer. Get on that silk. And work your own shit out.

Cheer for other people

At the same time, you need to cheer for your friends in real life who announce their latest writing project or contest standing while you trudge off to your soulless day job. You need to cheer for your classmates who finally nail that middle spit to ankle hang when they get it and you don’t. Celebrate any and all wins, even if (and especially if) they’re not yours. Be generous with your praise and congratulations. Only good things come from sending out love and positivity in the world. Yes, that seems all woo woo and foo foo, but I believe it.

Yeah, it’s tough. It’s gonna hurt. Keep going.

Nobody is perfect right out of the gate. People that go to the gym see the most beneficial effects when they consider it a life-long process, as opposed to a New Year’s resolution to lose weight.

Training in aerial arts hurts. Especially at the beginning. You’re getting weird silk burns on weird places (armpit burns, anyone?) while you figure out where the silk is supposed to be. After your first aerial class, you feel like a Mac truck hit you.

But if you want it enough. You keep going. And you get better.

When you first start writing, you have no idea what you’re doing. You’re just banging stuff out on a keyboard and stringing sentences together and debating the merits of outlining. The first time you get a bad critique, it hurts. You will likely call the critiquer an idiot who just didn’t get it. And then later on, you realize that they may have had some good points.

But if you want it enough. You keep going. And you get better.

If this is something you want more than anything else in the world, you will pursue it with everything you have. And it will be worth it. Says me :)