Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Courtney Meznarich

Week 2 of Zachary Rowell’s 90-Day Screenplay Challenge: “Parasite” Movie, the Comparison Trap, and Why You Should Always End the Day on a High Note

Zachary Rowell, the winner of SoCreate’s “So, Write Your Bills Away” Sweepstakes, is on the path to do just that. We promise to pay his bills for 90 days if he promises to finish a screenplay. And each month, he must prove he’s on the right track by sharing 30 or more pages with us. By December 31, if all goes as planned, he’ll have written a feature-length screenplay! It’s his script to keep (or share, or sell). We just wanted to give him a leg-up on the journey.

So far, so good! Zachary is well ahead of schedule just two weeks in, with 31 pages done (he shared the first ten publicly on our Facebook Group, head there for a good laugh!). But this week, he stalled a bit. Was it the curse of comparison? Take a listen to his third vlog below to hear what stood in his way, and the good piece of advice he’s using to keep his motivation up.

"We’re back. Or, I’m back, I guess it would be more appropriate to say. As you can see, I’m indoors. No more cars. I’m inside my apartment. This is a studio, and this is basically how big it is. My bed is right over there; it’s pretty small.

This is the third vlog, the second week of writing. I don’t know if you can hear the “tap, tap” noises, but that is Olive, Olive the dog. She’s drinking water right now. Maybe she’ll come over here. If she comes over here, I’ll lift her up, and it will be really cute.

So, I crossed the 30-page mark. Which is great, I think 31 pages. I think the goal was to hit 30 pages a month, so it’s October 14, halfway through the month, and I’ve hit the 30-page mark. I don’t say this to brag, but, actually, I’m a little disappointed. By the way, my laptop is right here, I have notes on here, so if you’re like “what is he looking at?”, I’m looking at my laptop. I’ve got my SoCreate Yeti right here, which SoCreate sent me, and it keeps my water nice and cold.

Anyway, last week I was at 21 pages. So, I only got nine or ten pages this week. And that’s not bad, but it’s not 21 pages like the week before. And I think what happened was, on Thursday, I woke up, and I was just not wanting to write. I was like, “oh God, I’d rather mow a lawn right now, or feed pigeons,” I don’t know. I forced myself to open up the screenplay. Nothing happened. Put my fingers on the keyboard. No letters were typed. So I didn’t write that day. And Friday I woke up and I kind of felt the same, but I was like, okay, I’ve got to fix this. Something needs to happen. And that’s when I remembered a piece of advice I heard.

I don’t remember who said it, when they said it, where I was when they said it, and that’s going to happen often probably because I don’t remember most things. If this piece of advice sounds familiar to you, if you’re like, “hey, Bob said this down the street, I remember when he said it. We were checking the mail, and he told me about it,” well then, ok, I’ll give credit to Bob if you can provide proof that Bob said it. But for right now, it’s just a whisper in the wind.

The piece of advice is, try to end every day on a high note. Basically, leave off somewhere in the script you want to begin the next day, so you’re excited to write. If you leave yourself in a pickle, which I did, you’re not going to want to write. If you leave off that day and you’re like, I’ll deal with this tomorrow, you’re not going to want to deal with it tomorrow. It’s just like a chore, just like with anything in life. You want to leave off in a place that excites you. Now obviously, writing a screenplay takes a long time, and not every day, you’re going to be able to end like that, but try to make that the standard, I guess I would say. Don’t put things off for the next day. Finish. Try to tackle the problem then. And then you can leave off in a place of excitement, and you wake up the next day, and you’re ready to write. That is my advice to you.

Another thing I wanted to talk about is a movie I saw this past weekend and how it made me feel. I watched “Parasite.” It’s also a dark comedy thriller which is what I’m writing. It was an incredible film and my favorite film so far this year. Not even close, really. After watching it, I felt a little motivated, but I also felt defeatism, I guess you would say, because I was like, “this is what I have to compete with? That’s the bar we’re setting? Because I don’t know …” I got a little depressed. I don’t know if I can compete with that.

But you have to remind yourself, you’re seeing the finished product. This is after the script went through several edits. This is after the actors brought the script to life. You’re viewing your screenplay as it is now, whether it’s the first draft or the second draft, and you’re not hearing anyone say the words, you’re not seeing it on camera. Also, you’re your toughest critic. At least I am. And I think most screenwriters, writers in general, you’re going to be hard on yourself. Even when someone says you wrote something special there, you’re going to be like, did I? Is there a way we can prove that? I want to know for sure that I wrote something special.

So, yeah, it’s not really fair to compare yourself to a finished product, I guess that’s what I want to say to you and what I want to remind myself of.

By the way, you should go see “Parasite” if you haven’t yet. It’s only playing in a limited number of theaters, but maybe if it’s by you, go watch it and then tell me what you think. Unless you don’t like it, then I don’t want to hear about it.

I think that is it. So, we’re done. This is the third vlog I’ve done. Alright, hold on. Olive, come here! I’m going to go get Olive, hold on. Speed up the tape!

Alright, this is Olive the dog. I think she is partly the reason why I won this competition, so, thank you. Thank you, Olive.


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