If you want screenwriting to be your hobby that's absolutely fine, but for the majority, we want this to be our full-time career. When people think of our names, we want the term professional screenwriter attached to it. But the only way we’ll get there is if we treat our grind like a job NOW. That’s right. Right now. Professional screenwriters are constantly creating their own scripts on spec to stay sharp, relevant in the industry, and to hopefully complete their dream of getting their project produced = being paid for their creativity = being a professional. And the only way you're gonna grab that next open seat at the table against the pros is to constantly and consistently write. So, if you're wondering how you can employ yourself as a screenwriter now so you can actually get employed later, here are three tips to level up your grind.
1. Consistency is KEY:
The only way to master anything in life is to be consistent, and the same applies to screenwriting. It’s that simple. Simple, not easy. Consistency breeds improvement. Improvement leads to refining our craft so we can tell great stories. We want people to rave about our brilliantly executed plot twist, our bomb a$$ characters, and use our screenplays as an example of mastery. We wanna be on Joss Whedon and Misha Green level. We may wonder how they got there and if they have something in their DNA that we don’t. But the main thing that made them household names is their consistency and dedication. Let us not forget that once upon a time they were just another no-name screenwriter dying to get their voices heard. They could have remained in a dream state of possible accolades and stardom, but they decided to put their butt in a seat and chase their reality instead of watching it walk on by. #realitychaser You don't need special DNA to do that, but you definitely need this next tip.
2. Create a schedule:
The same way you get your schedule at your main job is the same way you should make a schedule for your writing job. We’re busy as f*ck, I know. We take a look outside and it’s bright as hell - sun shining… the day ahead of us - then what feels like seconds later… pitch black like where TF did the time go? But if you take a deep look into the way you spend your time, you’ll find little pockets to get some in writing. It may be a couple of hours; it may be a couple of minutes. Just make sure you create a schedule that works for you and stick to it. The more consistent you are, the more likely you’ll reach FADE OUT. And if you're strapped for time, you can fit writing into your daily life by downloading apps like Google Docs or even Final Draft’s mobile app, so you can write whenever and wherever. Everyone is glued to their phones. You may even be using your phone to read this post. So instead of scrolling endlessly on social media after finishing this blog, open up that writing app - or a random notes app - and get to typing (your characters will thank you).
3. Don’t write for perfection; write to finish:
I know I sound like a broken record when I say writing is rewriting but it's the truth. The rewrite is where the magic happens, and you’ll only get there if you finish your first draft. They call the first draft the vomit draft for a reason. Spill EVERYTHING onto the page. The cheesy dialogue, poor action lines, plot holes, the whole nine. Then when you finish, grab your bucket and mop (the rewrite) and get to cleaning. Do it as many times as it takes until your script is effectively telling the story you intend. Trust me; you’re gonna have to fight the same battle more than once to get a win in this game. So, spit it out and worry about how great it looks later. You’ll thank yourself for having something done vs staring at that blank page for the 5th day in a row.
So, start treating writing like your job because it is. It’ll set you apart from the crowd and get you closer to that credit at the end of the tunnel. (And your coins!)
-Written By Collin Shaw
Shannan E. Johnson, CEO