THE PROFESSIONAL WRITER WORKOUT PLAN
A professional athlete doesn’t just wake up one day and start playing in the major leagues. They train for years. Strengthening their muscles and perfecting their skills. This same practice is true for professional screenwriters. In this article, we will discuss how you can prepare and train as a professional screenwriter so that you can be ready when the big leagues come calling.
In this extended metaphor, the big leagues really just means someone is paying you to write. The amount of the check doesn’t matter. If someone is paying you, you now have to deliver. The days of “nothing is coming to me” or “I’m not in the mood to write” are long gone.
In most writing agreements you are paid per step. This essentially means that you are paid for each phase of the process that you complete. In features, typically this includes an outline, first draft, and polish, although there can be more steps.
The point here is you want to be ready when the money calls. While screenwriters don’t necessarily need to log hours in the gym as athletes do, we do need to train and prepare in a similar fashion.
Below are three simple steps to add to your training plan to have you ready to rock it when you book a paying gig.
1. Have a ritual. This practice is way less mystical than it appears. Having a ritual simply means creating a routine that gets your mind prepared to write. This process can be essential in helping to get you in the right headspace mentally, emotionally, and physically to write, which can aid in combating writer's block.
This can be as simple as putting on a personalized playlist or sitting in a certain room or area of your home. For some, it can mean meditating and clearing your mind before writing. It may take some trial and error to find the right combinations of activities that make up your ritual, but this should be a personal process that is unique to you.
2. Outline, outline, outline. To outline or not to outline is a long-standing debate on Twitter, but outlining can not only help to shape your story it can also save you time. Not to mention, in most circumstances, submitting the outline is a step in the process in which the writer is paid for. Getting in the habit of outlining in your writing routine now can save you the stress of changing your writing process when money is on the line. If you want to learn more about outlining, check out our article: The Blueprint: How to Write a Script Outline.These three aspects are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to flexing and stretching your muscles as a screenwriter. As you know, the journey of becoming a professional screenwriter is a marathon, not a sprint. There will be ebbs and flows in your career, but having a foundation to fall back on can help set you up for success, whether that’s in preparation for your first paying gig or your 30th.
3. Be open to collaboration. As you know by now, collaboration is key in this business. You have to be open to other people’s ideas and opinions but also stand your ground about creative choices you feel strongly about. You can begin to flex your collaborative muscles by joining a writers’ group. If you want to learn more about writers’ groups and the benefits of joining one, check out this TPP article.
If you are looking to dive deeper into what a career as a professional screenwriter looks like, be sure to check out our Industry Jam Session with our CEO and Head Consultant, Shannan E. Johnson.
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.