What inspiring quotes from the late, great NBA legend Kobe Bryant can screenwriters use in their screenwriting journeys?
The world was left shocked when news broke that NBA icon Kobe Bryant was killed (along with his 13-year-old daughter GiGi) in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, CA, on Sunday, January 26th, 2020.
Bryant was a five-time NBA Champion with the Los Angeles Lakers — the only NBA team he ever played for.
He was drafted by the Lakers straight out of high school in 1996 and was quickly crowned as the heir-apparent to Michael Jordan.
Read ScreenCraft’s 23 Screenwriting Lessons from Inspiring Michael Jordan Quotes!
Bryant had 18 NBA All-Star selections, was an NBA MVP, won five NBA championships with the Lakers, was a two-time Olympic gold medalist, and even won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for Dear Basketball.
Here we take fifteen of the late Kobe Bryant’s most famous inspiring quotes and apply them to the art, craft, and business of screenwriting.
“Everything negative — pressure, challenges — is all an opportunity for me to rise.”
Screenwriters face so many negative challenges throughout their screenwriting journey — rejection and failure around every corner. It’s very easy to succumb to the pressures and challenges. But you can’t.
You have to rise from the ashes of every rejection and every failure. And it’s those that do so by way of seeing opportunities to rise that succeed in the end.
Failure and rejection is a guarantee. You can’t escape them. Thus, you must embrace them and use them to better yourself as a writer and human being.
“I have self-doubt. I have insecurity. I have fear of failure. I have nights when I show up at the arena, and I’m like, ‘My back hurts, my feet hurt, my knees hurt. I don’t have it. I just want to chill.’ We all have self-doubt. You don’t deny it, but you also don’t capitulate to it. You embrace it.”
We’ve all had those days where we’ve had enough of the screenwriting grind. We doubt our abilities. We fear failure. We are overwhelmed by our struggles. And sometimes, we burn ourselves out by writing day after day after day.
But you can’t let that stop you.
Take a quick break. Go for a drive, walk, run, or bike ride. Take a day off. Take a weekend off. And then get back in front of that screen and push through the self-doubt, insecurity, and fear.
You’ll hit walls as a screenwriter. What defines your greatness, in the end, will be how you break through those walls — and what you learn from those experiences as you move forward in your screenwriting career.
“I can’t relate to lazy people. We don’t speak the same language. I don’t understand you. I don’t want to understand you.”
There’s no place for laziness. Too many people come into screenwriting wanting the seven-figure paychecks they’ve read about. They want the fame of the auteurs and the big success stories they read about in the trades and screenwriting books. But they’re not willing to put in the work.
There’s no time to be lazy and no time to blame “Writer’s Block” — which is the ultimate crutch that so many writers cling to when things don’t come easy.
Read ScreenCraft’s 7 Reasons Why “Writer’s Block” is BS!
Set strict goals for yourself. Meet those goals. Move onto the next script.
You have to do the work to even dream of being in those dream scenarios.
“I don’t want to be the next Michael Jordan. I only want to be Kobe Bryant.”
Don’t fall into the trap of wanting to emulate your favorites writers. Hollywood reads those copycat screenplays all of the time — and then push them aside as they try to find new original voices.
You’ll never be as good as Wilder, Sorkin, Tarantino, Ephron, or Cody. They are the masters of what they’ve written — everything else is nothing more than an homage or copy.
Be the first you. Be a new voice. Take what you love from other writers, and do it differently or better.
“Life is too short to get bogged down and be discouraged. You have to keep moving. You have to keep going. Put one front in front of the other, smile, and just keep on rollin’.”
As we now know, with the early loss of Kobe, life is short. Wasting time being discouraged and surrendering to your self-doubt, insecurities, and fears does nothing more than waste valuable time.
Embrace the inescapable negative aspects of the pursuit of this dream and learn from every challenge that comes your way.
“Once you know what failure feels like, determination chases success.”
Failure is a tool that teaches you how to learn, grow, and evolve as a screenwriter.
You will fail at writing a great screenplay, despite the best intentions you had when you began.
You will fail at marketing your screenplays and convincing producers, executives, agents, and managers to take on your projects.
You will fail at making personal or professional deadlines.
And understand this — you want these failures to happen because they teach you the best lessons. Without these failures, you won’t be groomed, trained, and ready for success in the film and television industry.
Embrace your failures — they will create the determination necessary to chase success.
“Despite fear, finish the job.”
How many writing projects have you started to develop and research, only to push them aside before you begin or finish the screenplay? It happens to the best of screenwriters.
You turn a corner in your screenwriting career when you can push through that fear and finish the job. The ability to do so is a required trait for professional screenwriters.
“If you want to be great at something, there’s a choice you have to make. We all can be masters at our craft, but you have to make a choice… there are inherent sacrifices that come along with that.”
You can’t take on this dream with half-efforts and moderate sacrifice. It’s going to take everything you have to see this journey through. And you’ll have to do it while juggling school, work, friend time, and family time.
You’re going to need to sacrifice the free time you have. You’re going to need to sacrifice some expenses for screenwriting and marketing tools.
If you want to pursue this screenwriting dream, you’re going to need to go all-in.
“I’m extremely willful to win, and I respond to challenges.”
Every screenwriting project is going to come with challenges. And those challenges will, at first, seem impossible to overcome.
“How can I possibly delete my dialogue by fifty percent?”
“How can I possibly cut that storyline out?”
“How can I possibly edit my script down by twenty pages?”
Challenges will either be self-imposed due to things you discover during your writing process, or they’ll be demanded by your bosses as you write under assignment.
You have to be ready, willing, and able to take on challenges. The best writers thrive best when they are faced with problems to solve.
“As I sit here now, when I take off my shoe, and I look down at my scar, I see beauty in it. I see all the hard work, all the sacrifices. I see the journey that it took to get back to this point of being healthy. And I see beauty in that struggle. That’s what makes it beautiful.”
Screenwriters have inner scars that represent the struggles they’ve been through.
That one time you came so close to winning that big fellowship or contest, only to find out that you didn’t make the final cut.
That project that had financing and a big name attached, only for both to disappear at the last minute.
That lead from the film festival that you attended that was going to be your big break, only to be met by silence when you reached out.
Those battle scars are more than just negative aspects of your journey. They should be treated as reminders of your hard work and sacrifice. They should represent the lessons you learned from them.
“I would go 0-for-30 [from the floor] before I would go 0-for-9. 0-for-9 means you beat yourself, you psyched yourself out of the game.”
You have to get your scripts out there. It’s not enough to send a query to one or two leads.
Read ScreenCraft’s Writing the Perfect Query Letter for Your Scripts!
You need to send dozens upon dozens of queries out. You need to network and make contacts. You need to take shots in the dark and query those that may seem impossible to reach.
The more shots you take, the higher the chances are of you getting an industry insider to read your scripts.
“I had a great speaking arts teacher … who taught how to structure story, how to write story… The world revolves around storytelling, and so it serves an important role in our society at large. I get excited to try to, you know, play my small part in it.”
Learning how to tell compelling and engaging stories plays a vital role in society — and in your life.
Movies and television episodes matter. You can inform people. You can give them content that is cathartic enough to change their lives. And you can offer audiences the type of escapism they need from their own lives.
Screenwriting and storytelling are powerful elements in this world. Be proud of what you’re trying to do. Respect the art and craft of screenwriting and try your best to change the world in any way — big or small — that you can through your storytelling.
Learn the best way to structure your screenplay with this free guide.
“It’s just consistency. That’s all it is, consistency. You don’t build an entire package of the game on one summer. You focus on one or two things throughout the summer… You master those things. Then the following summer, you focus on another one or two things. Then the following summer, it’s another one or two things. Five years from now, you have a game that has no weaknesses in it. But it’s not done in one summer. It’s about having a five-year plan, a ten-year plan, and understanding how to get there.”
You’re not going to master the art and craft of screenwriting in one or two years. It’s not going to happen. In fact, most screenwriters struggle for upwards of a decade or more before they get that first assignment or sell that first script.
Understand that you need to be in it for the long-haul. And if that’s okay with you, then do your best to plan out your journey.
Build specific screenwriting skills through one or two scripts and then shift to another skill-focus for the next. When you’ve mastered that, move onto another skill. Challenge yourself. Get out of your comfort zones.
If it took you six months to finish the last script, give yourself a more difficult deadline for the next.
Download ScreenCraft’s How to Train Yourself to Be Ready for Screenwriting Success for free!
“If you do not believe in yourself no one will do it for you.”
When it comes down to it, all screenwriters are alone. You have to believe in yourself. You have to believe that the dream is possible. You have to believe that everything happening to you — good or bad in your screenwriting journey — is happening for a reason.
Believe in yourself.
“I fell in love with you — a love so deep that I gave it my all, from my mind and body to my spirit and soul.”
He was talking about basketball.
You have to love the work. You have to love the art, the craft, and the business of screenwriting to succeed. And you need to give it your all — your mind, body, spirit, and soul.
Thanks for showing us how to love what you do, Kobe. You’ll be missed.
Ken Miyamoto has worked in the film industry for nearly two decades, most notably as a studio liaison for Sony Studios and then as a script reader and story analyst for Sony Pictures.
He has many studio meetings under his belt as a produced screenwriter, meeting with the likes of Sony, Dreamworks, Universal, Disney, Warner Brothers, as well as many production and management companies. He has had a previous development deal with Lionsgate, as well as multiple writing assignments, including the produced miniseries Blackout, starring Anne Heche, Sean Patrick Flanery, Billy Zane, James Brolin, Haylie Duff, Brian Bloom, Eric La Salle, and Bruce Boxleitner. Follow Ken on Twitter @KenMovies