Nathan Ives and I are working on a new script. I’ll spare you the boring details about the plot, structure, and character – yeah, we got all those things. Right now we’re almost done a very rough draft. And I mean really rough draft. We’ve been working on it for several months. In its current state it’s terrible. It’s so in-coherent in places that it wouldn’t even be possible to make a movie out of it. It just makes no sense. It feels like it’s never going to be any good.

I read a book recently called The Dip. It’s written by Seth Godin, a marketing guru and author. It’s a great book and you should read it.

Just about everything in life has a “dip.” When you start a new project there’s that initial burst of energy and enthusiasm that carries the project along for a little while. But then the initial burst starts to fade and you go in to what’s called “the dip” – that long hard journey to the finish line. I’m sure everyone has experienced this at one time or another.

Nathan and I are so far in the dip on this screenplay it’s hard to imagine that there is a finish line. We both have lost interest in the script and want to abandon it. But we’re going to finish it no matter how much we hate it and want to be done with it. We’re going to keep slogging away on it even though we feel like it’ll never be any good. Luckily I’ve written enough scripts to realize that eventually we will be done and it will probably be a pretty decent script. It just doesn’t feel like that now.

Several years ago I went to a screenwriting seminar. The teacher asked the people in the audience why they were there. There were about 20 people in the room and 18 of them all gave essentially the same answer, which was something like this: “I have all these great ideas but I can’t seem to get them into a compete screenplay.” They were all experiencing the dip. They had an idea for a script that excited them but then the dip set in and they just petered out.

The great thing about the dip is that once you’re through it, it works to your advantage because most people won’t make it across. So instead of hating the dip look at it as your friend. Lean into it and realize that you’ll eventually be through it. With each script you write you’ll acquire more and more skill and be in increasingly rarer company. Everyone has a great idea for a script but most people never bother turning it into a completed screenplay. A lot of people have written one script but a lot less people have written two. A few people have written two scripts but there’s not too many who have written ten.

Writing a script isn’t easy and selling it is even harder. I believe that if you keep writing and keep improving and keep sending your material out you will eventually have a career.
If you find yourself in the dip, keep writing. Finish your script. You’ll be glad you did and you’ll be one step closer to being a screenwriter. The worst script ever written is a whole lot better than the greatest script never written.

I highly recommend you read The Dip. It’s very short and easy to read. I think it will help you in just about any project you decide to work on.

Have you experienced The Dip?

2 thoughts on “Getting through the dip and getting your screenplay written”
  1. Ashley,

    Big Seth Godin fan here. I agree 100% with what you’ve said, which makes this a pretty damn boring comment.

    Love the blog. Keep up the good work!

  2. I’m dipping right now. It’s seems almost effortless to knock out a 10-15 page treatment for me…..but the 100 page mountain on the screenplay seems unscaleable. Just have to not allow distractions and stay focused in order to write through it. How do get a writing partner for projects?

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