Jordan Peele’s quirky tip to avoid Failure in Screenwriting
There’s so much going on these days that I find I’m not much into awards shows of late, so I skipped the Oscars last night. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about a fancy dress party, but not feeling or spending much energy on the parties I’m not invited to, yeah? But it is still the classiest do for the professional storytelling industry, so congrats to all the hardworking, statue-winning craftsmen out there and I do hope you enjoy your accolades.
Speaking of the Oscars and accolades, I was pleased Jordan Peele won for best original screenplay this year. I was a bit perplexed to hear him say that he ‘quit’ writing “GET OUT” 20 different times. It’s a pretty tight script, so 20 drafts- hey, I believe that. Peele’s a busy guy, so maybe it went on the backburner two dozen times, sure. But I’m not sure I wholesale believe this line about him quitting. Obviously there were challenges to “GET OUT” being made, and obstacles to finding it’s way to audiences, but enough to quit? To silence a story that Jordan Peele felt compelled to tell?
Do writers ever *quit*? Is any idea ever really dead? Whatever your goal is as a writer, I don’t think that’s the way any of this works. But I guess you have to have something to say at awards ceremonies.
Peele’s admission is already circling on Twitter and /r/Screenwriting as a hopeful platitude for struggling baby writers. But come on guys, if “don’t quit!” is the what you need to hear to finish the script, you need to dig deeper for some richer insights. You could be sitting on the International Space Station and see that concept was workable whether a studio signed on or not. I think “GET OUT” had enough story juice that it *had* to get made and I think Jordan Peele is a pro and knew it had legs. So he maybe put it down, worked on a few other things and picked it back up, but I don’t think he ever really quit.
This is not advice as I’m no expert, but for me the word ‘quit’ is a non-starter. I do feel despair, I often feel like all the obstacles in my life are insurmountable and I’m certain that my goals are completely irrational, but I can quit when I’m dead.