5 Writing Challenges That Keep You From Finishing Your Script
August 21, 2023
Writing isn’t always easy, especially for an aspiring screenwriter. Sometimes you’ll start off strong but various writing challenges emerge that keep you from finishing your script.
In addition to writer’s block and uncertainty about your script’s ending, you’ll come across real-world obstacles that make it difficult to write (let alone write to the best of your ability). This can be disheartening and cause many writers to give up even after a promising start.
However, whether these writing challenges derive from the page or the outside world, you can overcome them if not prevent them from happening.
Below are 5 writing challenges that keep you from finishing your script.
And how to overcome or prevent them from happening…
Balancing Your Writing with Financial Obligations
This could be the biggest writing challenge of all: balancing your writing with financial obligations. If you’re like most aspiring screenwriters, you probably have a day job. Even many professional screenwriters have long periods between writing assignments and have to find work outside of the film industry.
Not only is it hard to find the time to write if you have a full-time job but it can also drain your creativity and leave you uninspired. Many jobs are mentally or physically exhausting and the last thing you feel like doing when you've finished work is wrestling with the blank page. This is why it’s vital to create a personal work routine.
Schedule your writing around your job and choose those time windows when you’ll be most productive. Write a little bit here and there if that’s what works for you, or put aside time on your days off for longer writing sessions.
However you schedule your writing, be sure to be consistent. Even if you’re only writing a few pages a week, if you keep it up, you’ll eventually finish your script.
Another thing you might need to do — especially if you have a full-time job — is cut down on social distractions. This is harder to do if you live in a large city where there are often various activities and events you’ll be tempted to take part in: there’s a concert, a movie, a birthday party, or a karaoke night with your friends. These activities add up and they will consume a lot of your time.
Although you shouldn’t avoid all social activity and become a hermit, if finishing your script is important, you must be prepared to make some sacrifices. And unlike a job, social outings are something you can do without for a spell.
If there’s the occasional event involving a person who’s important in your life, you should by all means take part. You simply need to be more selective with your time and who you spend it with when you’re trying to finish a script.
You should also limit your social media intake, which can likewise eat up a lot of your time: sometimes what starts off as one comment on Facebook or Twitter can end up becoming a lengthy, time-consuming exchange. You need to think of your time as a valuable commodity; an hour or two can make a difference. For more information on how much time might be necessary to set aside, check out this ScreenCraft article that looks into how much time you should be spending on your screenplay.
Unlike the more carefree social activities described above, sometimes some situations are harder to sidestep. Perhaps a loved one is sick or has recently passed away. Maybe you’re going through a breakup or a divorce. Not only do these personal distractions take up your time, they can be mentally and emotionally taxing and it’s difficult to maintain the proper headspace to write.
As noted above, it’s important to be there for certain people when they need you and if you have to put your writing on the back burner, it’s not a problem. Do what you need to do and know you can always jump back into your writing afterward.
Oftentimes writing is cathartic during stressful or emotionally trying periods. You shouldn’t hesitate to insert your personal life into your script and use it to fuel your creativity (even if it’s indirectly or metaphorically). Others might have been through what you’ve been through and connect with your story.
Not Knowing How To End Your Script
Sometimes the only thing keeping you from finishing a script is not knowing how to end it.
Maybe you have a great concept and everything was working for the first act, but then the wheels started to slowly wobble and fall off in the second act. Now you’re facing a third act and you have no idea how to end your script. This happens to many screenwriters — both aspiring and professional — and it can lead to you growing disenchanted with your script and abandoning it.
This is a writing challenge you can overcome preemptively by outlining beforehand and knowing your ending before you begin writing. You should also consider your characters and whether they’re helping you get the most from your concept and helping you generate enough ideas. The right characters can enhance your story and take it in a more inspired and generative direction.
Becoming Creatively Spent
Perhaps you’ve avoided all of the above writing challenges and have your entire script mapped out, but you’re still finding it hard to finish your script. You might just feel uninspired and creatively spent. It’s only natural if you’ve been slogging away at something for a long time to eventually get tired of it.
In the same way a personal work routine can help you finish your script, developing a lifestyle and mindset that’s conducive to creativity bears similar fruit. In my articles “5 Tips to Staying in Screenwriting Shape” and “Staying Motivated as a Screenwriter”, I give advice on how best to achieve this lifestyle and mindset.
You don’t win a marathon without being in top physical shape and believing you can do it, right?
When you’re aiming to finish a script, it’s best to think the same way.
And the more you prepare for writing challenges, the easier it will be to surmount them.
Written by: Edwin CannistraciEdwin Cannistraci is a professional screenwriter. His comedy specs PIERRE PIERRE and O’GUNN both sold with more than one A-list actor and director attached. In addition, he’s successfully pitched feature scripts, TV pilots and has landed various assignment jobs for Universal, Warner Bros, Paramount and Disney.