Receiving Notes Doesn’t Have to Suck: The Buddhism of Screenwriting

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Receiving Notes Doesn’t Have to Suck: The Buddhism of Screenwriting

Receiving notes on your screenplay sucks. No screenwriter likes getting them. Or does it suck? Defining Buddhism is perhaps beyond the purview of this article, but the two-second definition of Buddhism is that the path to enlightenment is to cease craving impermanent things. This is also, coincidentally, the path to enlightenment in receiving notes on your screenwriting.

Screenwriting is inherently egotistical. Any good screenwriter has a healthy ego, or perhaps a too-healthy ego. It takes a certain level of hubris to say, “My writing needs to be out there in the world.”

Because of this, receiving notes is painful. Because a note can feel like it means, “You are not a good writer.” This is where accepting, or ceasing to desire, an impermanent thing, like your screenplay, becomes important.

Screenplays are fundamentally impermanent. On your own, you might write five drafts. Once you show the script to anyone, you might write another five drafts. By the time a producer comes onboard, there will be more drafts. If an actor or actress or director or all three join the project, they will have notes and there will be more drafts.

The script for a movie is an ever-changing organism. It’s impermanent. And everyone trying to change it, on a base level, is hoping their changes will improve the film. No one benefits from a bad film. Everyone has the same goal.

This is where a screenwriter can achieve note-taking nirvana. Accept that the script is impermanent. It will change. It must change. The version you love does not actually exist. And you can love the next version and the version after that.

Here’s the best part about approaching notes this way – they start to become fun. Notes are like going to the gym for screenwriters. They exercise your creative muscles. And writers who are great at taking notes will always work.

Does receiving notes on your screenplay suck? Have you had positive experiences getting notes? Let us know in the comments below.

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