Writing_Quote_329

I spend almost every day on this site discussing the nuts and bolts of screenwriting. Give your characters a goal. Add urgency to that goal. Arc your characters. Make sure everyone’s motivation is strong. I love discussing all that stuff. But I got to thinking how there are a bunch of things we don’t talk about. The intangibles. Those overlooked but essential pieces that play into one’s success (or lack thereof). These things aren’t as sexy or fun to talk about as setups and payoffs, reversals or dramatic irony, but because they’re so rarely breached, writers often forget their value. Let’s lay out ten of these intangibles and discuss how they affect your writing.

Perseverance – Recently, two writers who have been long-time readers of the site (I’m talking 5 years) both broke through. One of them signed with a major agency and has a script that’s about to make a lot of noise. The other finally wrote a script I feel can sell. I remember both of these writers’ early efforts vividly, and they were rough. But they kept writing and kept writing and they got better. Writing is just like any other job. The longer you do it, the better you get at it. The toughest thing about persevering is that, in this business, the finish line is invisible. And it’s different for everyone. But I can promise you this: With the exception of the .0000001% of screenwriters who get lucky, it takes years of perseverance to break through.

Getting Feedback – Too many writers aren’t getting any feedback on their screenplays. Feedback is essential if you want to improve your scripts. It’s why almost everyone who comes away from an Amateur Friday experience tells me how much better their script is because of it. The reason you want feedback is because your writing never quite comes off the way you think it does. You need people to tell you that the hero you’re convinced comes off as a dashing rogue, actually comes off as a raging douche. Or that all that set up in your first act that’s going to pay off in your third act like gangbusters, actually makes your first act slow and boring. What’s in our head and what’s on the page are often two different things. Which is why you need impartial parties to give it to you straight. Meet and trade scripts with people here in the comments section or build up your contacts via Twitter. Start trading and helping each other. I promise your writing will improve as a result.

Thick Skin – Writers are fragile people. I mean we’re putting our heart and soul on the page, we’re going months at a time without any feedback, and when we do hear a response to our work, it’s usually a curt “A pass for us. Sorry.” Talk about a tough business. For this reason, you have to grow thick skin. If someone doesn’t like your script, it’s not the end of the world. You don’t have to start a six-month drinking bender. Look, nobody likes to be told their script (or their main character, or their third act) sucks. The trick is to turn those negatives into positives. Instead of being afraid of criticism, seek it out. Know that every critique helps you locate problems that you can now fix. That means criticism makes your script BETTER. It’s really the only way to roll. In an industry where feedback is 90% negative, you have to have this attitude to survive.

Don’t be delusional – One of the biggest things that prevents writers from breaking through is delusion. They hitch their rides to these extremely non-commercial ideas, whether they be slow period pieces or straight coming-of-age films or quirky small-town indie flicks. The strange thing is that most of these writers seem to know that they’re doing this. And yet they do nothing to change it. Maybe it’s fear of success. Or wanting an out (“Well, I never sold anything. But then again, I never tried to write anything commercial.”). The truth is, if you want to succeed, you gotta stop deluding yourself about your choice in material. I’m not saying to write commercial ideas with no heart or passion. You have to find that within your commercial concept. But I see too many writers pushing these scripts and I’m thinking to myself, “Who’s going to buy these? No one.”

Work Habits – One of the strangest things about writers is that many of them don’t want to write! Again, I don’t know if this is a fear thing (fear of writing something terrible?) or what. But many writers put off writing for as long as possible. Look, everybody works differently, but I believe writers should write every single day. Even if it’s just for 5 minutes. The key is to get SOME writing in. And it’s not that hard. It’s like going to the gym. The hardest part is getting there. But once you’re there, you usually work out. So figure out a way to write every day. And don’t say you don’t have time. You can find five minutes in your day.

Stamina – Stamina, to me, is what really separates the men from the boys. And when I refer to stamina, I’m referring to how much effort you’re willing to put into each script. As we just talked about Monday, Back to the Future started off as a good idea with an uninspired execution. They then wrote dozens of drafts to get it where it needed to be. I heard Damon and Affleck wrote a hundred drafts of Good Will Hunting. If you’re serious about screenwriting, this makes sense. Every time you rewrite your script, you get a chance to fix the weakest link. And after fixing the weakest link 30-50 times, your script’s probably going to be a damned good read. I’m not saying EVERY script will take this long. I’m saying that if needs that long, you need to be willing to go there. Also, make sure it’s the RIGHT SCRIPT to spend all those drafts on in the first place (See above – “Don’t Be Delusional”).

Persistence – Push through the draft you’re working on, even when it doesn’t look like you can. Most abandoned drafts occur due to writers running out of ideas. But really, there’s no such thing as “running out of ideas.” It’s more that you “run out of ideal options.” You can always write SOMETHING. The great thing about screenwriting is, you can fix the bad stuff in the next rewrite. So if you get to a place where you can’t think of how to move forward, just write the “shitty placeholder version” in order to continue your story. Chances are, as you keep going, you’ll come up with a solution to that problem later. But don’t let a script die just because you can’t think of the perfect way to move forward. Keep pushing along and solve the problem later.

Dedication – I think it’s important for screenwriters to be obsessed with screenwriting. If you’re really serious about it, it only makes sense that you would learn every possible thing you can about it. That means reading interviews from screenwriters, reading books about screenwriting, reading professional scripts, reading amateur scripts, reading novels, watching all the old classic movies, even the ones you know you won’t like. I’m not the biggest Western fan, but I went back and watched all the big ones because Westerns are a huge part of cinema history and influence many of the movies we see today. If screenwriting is something you want to succeed in, make it your life. Everybody else who’s fighting for a spot on that coveted Hollywood food chain has.

Plan/Schedule – Not enough writers set schedules or goals. One of the hardest things about writing is that it’s so open-ended. It’s such a casual process that a year can go by and you’ve made barely any progress on your script. The way to combating this is through scheduling and goal-setting. I’ve found screenplay contests are great for this. Whether you like them or not, they give you a clear defined deadline to finish your script by, which can be motivating. Go for two or three a year. Then, set your short and long-term goals as a writer. Where do you want to be by the end of the year (Secure a manager? Place in the semi-finals of a contest?). What about two years (Secure an agent? Option a script to a known production house?). After each year, assess your progress. If you didn’t meet your goals, ask why (is it because your writing or your promoting skills aren’t up to par?), then work on those things as you push towards your new goals. The path to success in screenwriting is never a straight line. But if you build some structure into your approach, it’s going to be straighter than most.

You – Bring what only you can bring to the table.  What are your unique experiences?  What is your unique view?  What is your unique writing style?  What unique people do you gravitate towards?  What goes on inside you that feels different from everyone else?  Bring that to your writing.  That’s going to create your unique voice and it’s going to be what makes you stand out.

  • Malibo Jackk

    Screenwriter Leslie Dixon (Limitless, Mrs. Doubtfire, Freaky Friday) made a point of commenting at the Austin Film Festival (as have many others) that screenwriting is hard.

    She went on to say that she hates people who enjoy screenwriting — convinced, as she is, that they doing it wrong.

    • Mike.H

      I recently flew to Florida vacay with 6 hr plane ride. I compare writing a script the 4-5 months or so involved like inside the plane’s narrow space — uneasy, uncomfy, straining… doubting, cramp… grouchy…

      At the pro level if it’s your beyond your10th script… it’s definitely a job.

      [ production notes for revisions are a total bitch, I hear ]

      • Mike.H

        And the outline you once thought was perfect…. fuggetabout it. Vast changes are coming.

  • jlugozjr

    Don’t be delusional.

    Fact: about 100 spec scripts sold in 2012.
    Fact: Los Angeles estim. population is 3.8 million.
    Fact: Everyone in LA has a screenplay.
    Fact: I WILL sell my screenplay.

    I think I’d rather be delusional.

    • Alex Palmer

      A certain amount of delusion is motivation I need to start writing.

  • Citizen M

    One of the strangest things about writers is that many of them don’t want to write!

    Oh boy, does that describe me. I’ll do anything not to start writing. Yet, funny enough, if I do start, I usually have a good session.

    Bill Martell is fond of pointing out that if you write only one page a day, that’s two scripts a year. And two scripts a year is about what a serious scriptwriter should be producing.

    Incidentally, I found another example of a script written in a hurry. “Aguirre, the Wrath of God” by Werner Herzog. (The other is “Basic Instinct”. 13 days from start of writing to sale of script.)

    Herzog wrote the screenplay “in a frenzy”, and completed it in two and a half days. Much of the script was written during a 200-mile bus trip with Herzog’s soccer team. His teammates got drunk after winning a game and one of them vomited on several pages of Herzog’s manuscript, which he immediately tossed out the window. Herzog claims he can’t remember all of the things that he wrote on these pages. — Wikipedia

    The film is hailed as a masterpiece. Not by me. From a scriptwriting point of view it could have been much better. I think it’s highly rated because it was made cheaply under very difficult conditions.

    • Malibo Jackk

      I think I was on that bus.

    • Paul Clarke

      I’m the same. It’s like when I was a kid. I used to play soccer. Every week my mom would take me to practice and I’d kick up a hell of a stink because I didn’t want to go. Tried everything to get out of it. But once I got there and ran out on the field, I loved it. Yet by next week, I was back to doing everything to get out of it. Go figure.

      As for 1 page a day getting you two scripts a year, that’s only 2 first drafts. (Also, by my math wouldn’t it be more like 3 scripts?)

      • Citizen M

        You could do it like this: Monday – Thursday, write one page a day; Friday and Saturday, rewrite; Sunday, outline next script.

        Two scripts a year. Easy peasy. *thinks wishfully*

        • andyjaxfl

          I like that schedule and will give it a shot until the end of the year.

      • ghost

        At least when you procrastinate the rest of us benefit in the form of amateur script reviews.

        • drifting in space

          Paul is the man.

    • Poe_Serling

      “Bill Martell is fond of pointing out that if you write only one page a day, that’s two scripts a year.”

      I kinda remember John Milius giving out the same advice in an old interview… something along the lines of “… that way you’re finishing a new script every
      120 days or so.”

  • JakeBarnes12

    I”m not just playing GTA V. I’m letting my ideas percolate.

  • fragglewriter

    Thank you for today’s article. I always say that we are our worst enemies. Points 4 through 10 are so real and honest that I have to say to myself “stop self-sabotaging.”

    • drifting in space

      I just found my bus home viewing material. Thanks!

      • fragglewriter

        Your welcome.

        With this article and the Writer’s Roundtable, it has re-ignited a burst of motivation.

  • shewrites

    Great article, Carson. Necessary reminders of what it takes to make it.

    Suugestion: would you consider analizing the scripts made available by the studios for the award season? I so do miss the old Scriptshadow. This would be a way to get it back without pissing anyone off.

  • Bobby

    Every one of these is such a valid point. Reading through, I recognize those I put into practice and those I don’t. I’m definitely guilty of not getting enough (of the right kind of) feedback so in keeping with the spirit of the article, would anybody like to trade scripts?

    Just finishing a rewrite on an R-rated contained comedy that I would love some fresh eyes upon.

    Title: Trapped.

    Logline: After a drunken one night stand, a writer finds himself trapped in an apartment with the last person he expected.

    Pitch: War Of The Roses for the YouTube generation.

    If anybody is interested, throw me an email: robert at robrofilms dot com and don’t forget to tell me about your own script.

    • wlubake

      Some unsolicited advice on the logline: I have almost no idea what your script is about. Right now it sounds like two people in a room talking. One is drunk. My advice is that (1) you should tell us who the writer is in the apartment with, as there is no sense of irony unless we know, and (2) we need some elaboration to tell us why it is appropriate to have your protagonist be a writer. Is he in there with his editor? A critic? Then it would make sense to know he’s a writer. If he’s in there with his step-mom, then we need to know something else about the protagonist, as the fact that he’s a writer doesn’t seem to elevate the concept.
      I don’t have a script to swap, but thought I’d try to lend a hand where I could.

      • Bobby

        Thanks for the advice wlubake. I was going for a sense of mystery with the logline, the person he’s stuck with is revealed rather than being present from the get-go. But on reflection, I lose all sense of irony by not saying who it is and so lose more than I gain.
        The fact my protag is a writer or a struggling writer (is there any other kind) is essential to the story but I get what you’re saying. Right now it reads like I stuck “Writer” in there because it’s better than just saying ‘Guy”.

        See already, the power of fresh perspective :-) Thanks again and when you have a script you’d like to swap or even just have me read, don’t hesitate to hit me up.

    • Matthew Garry

      What also works at times (at least on here) is to just make it available online and include a direct link (and make sure to keep an eye on the thread for a few days). That way people can have a look if they have some spare time without having to hassle with e-mail, and the script might get feedback that isn’t influenced by tit for tat expectations.

      • drifting in space

        I still think Carson should post a Sunday free-for-all.

        • Matthew Garry

          That sounds like a great idea, but how would that work in practice ? Wouldn’t it compete with the AOW ?

          • drifting in space

            The goal of AOW is to have Carson review and post your work.

            This would just allow us cretins to muck about on a day without a real post. :)

        • Kirk Diggler

          Carson needs a real message board. I would love to have writers post their Black List evaluations in a dedicated thread.

      • Bobby

        I had thought about that after I initially posted. Email can be a hassle when spare time is so precious. Thanks for the suggestion.

  • Ansar M. Smith

    I’m pretty dedicated to screenwriting and I write everyday. Go-Figure, I’m only 16 and I’ve been following this site for a year and it’s shaped my craft in every way. When i first started writing a few years I got final draft for my birthday and this book called “The Hollywood Standard”. After I mesmerised the book after reading it countless times all I really knew was Formatting… Until I found this site. My only problem is that I procrastinate hardcore. I’m the type of writer that has his story and characters planned out and structured. But for some reason I get really bad blocks.

    • Marija ZombiGirl

      There’s no such thing as writer’s block ;-) Here in France, it’s called “fear of the blank page” but why fear a blank page ? I see only a canvas to be filled with words and it excites me every time !

      This book is very helpful to read : “On Writers’s Block”, by Victoria Nelson.
      Good luck with your writing, I hope your passion stays strong !

      • maleficedark

        Another great book about this topic is
        ” Art and Fear ;Observation on the perils ( and rewards ) of art making ”

        Approved by Robert Rodriguez .

    • bluedenham

      I think of writing a script as making your way through a maze. When you get writer’s block, you’ve come to a dead end, and it means you need to look in other directions for the way out. Don’t continue to bang your head against the wall. That’s helped me make many a breakthrough.

      PS: congrats on knowing what you want to do at such a young age and taking the actions to make it a reality! Bodes well for your future.

  • JW

    C, this is borderline one of the best articles I’ve ever seen in terms of the “reality” of what writers face. I think it’s always best to take the gloves off and start swinging in terms of advice. It’s going to hurt at first, but when you get up and realize it wasn’t that bad and the black eye doesn’t last forever, you get back in the ring shortly thereafter and now you’re throwing punches you never could before. It takes an elephant’s nut sack for sure!

    • ximan

      I concur!

    • carsonreeves1

      Thank you! :)

  • bluedenham

    Great article. Regarding dedication, I am amazed/appalled at the number of wannabe screenwriters who are unfamiliar with the classics or who aren’t reading every script they can get their hands on. I’ve seen, in various forums, young writers – and unfortunately, script reviewers! – who only identify movies less than 5 years old as their favorites of all time. That is just sad.

    A few years ago at the U.S. premier of Red Cliff at the Austin Film Festival, I sat down beside a young man who was in the university film program. I mentioned how excited I was to see a new film by the great John Woo, and his response was: “Who?” Now I don’t expect everyone to know every director and writer out there (I wish I did, but I don’t either), but this guy was sitting there waiting for the movie to begin, and didn’t have the faintest clue who the director was, or his influence on movie-making.

    This article is spot-on.

    • bluedenham

      FYI – the US version of Red Cliff is truncated and suffers accordingly. The full, international version is terrific. A classic.

      • wlubake

        Did you say, “Hello!? Broken Arrow!”

      • wlubake

        BTW – I must have watched Hard Boiled weekly for a year solid in college.

  • drifting in space

    *EDIT* Wow, this is a lot longer than I thought. Don’t read unless you are super bored. :)

    If you are finding reasons to avoid writing, maybe it’s not for you. It’s all about effort.

    Megastar athletes are there because of dedication and perseverance. Not a single person wakes up one day and is amazingly talented.

    Famous musicians.

    Actors.

    Scientists.

    You name it.

    I’m sorry but you gotta churn stuff out to get better. The whole 10,000 hours thing. It’s almost as simple as math. Writing a great story, no. But getting better? Elementary.

    Unless you just REALLY aren’t getting it. But that’s a whole different story…

    I started writing five months ago.

    Five.

    Before that (and now) I just worked regular, everyday jobs. I’m currently a payroll manager for a mid-size marketing firm. I live an hour away from my job. I work 40-50 hours a week, plus another 10-15 commuting on a cramped bus reading every screenplay I can get my hands on. Plus, I’m married to someone who doesn’t really like movies. Don’t tell me you don’t have time to write.

    I don’t have a fancy film degree. I haven’t watched all the classics. I just sit my ass down, forget about sleeping, and write. I leave for work at 5:30 AM, get home at 6 PM. Spend a few hours with the wifey and I’m usually writing from 9 until about 1 or 2 AM. It’s what it takes, man. It ain’t easy. No one said it was. But don’t give me a bullshit excuse that you don’t have time. Suck it up, buttercup.

    Though, admittedly, when I started, I thought I would be one of the lucky ones. Sell my first script, dash away to the hills of Hollywood, hob-nob with A-listers. At first, that was my inspiration. The golden dream. Who doesn’t dream of that scenario? It still has to be a small part of your inspiration to make it as a writer. Maybe those things don’t happen to writers, but you still have to swing for the stars. Literally and metaphorically.

    It obviously didn’t go that route. And months later, I’ve completely shifted my view on the art of screenwriting. I stopped caring about others “making it” and focused entirely on what I was doing. MY projects.

    And you know how much I’ve written?

    2 (god-awful) complete feature specs. Both rewritten a few times before I moved on to a fresh idea.

    Countless outlines.

    2 half-baked feature specs.

    Dozens of half-baked ideas, scenes.

    A million “A day in the life of” character sheets.

    3 separate ideas for The Writer’s Store contest in 2 weeks.

    And I’m now on my third draft (technically sixth, but some are partial rewrites) of my 3rd feature.

    Five months, people. Don’t tell me it can’t be done.

    Feedback is HUGE. I’ve connected with a dozen people through this site and I can’t even tell you how pleased I am to have met them.

    Carson, thank you for providing a pretty relaxed atmosphere where we can discuss and connect with each other.

    Contrary to popular belief, there aren’t a lot of sites like this. I’ve read a few blogs and they get MAYBE two or three comments. We’re consistently pushing 70+ on most articles. That is fucking stellar y’all.

    The flip side to feed back is what to do with it. Get over yourself. You’re not god’s gift to the screenwriting world. We’re all (aspiring) story tellers. See what others think.

    From the people I’ve met here, they usually have some pretty great ideas on how to improve that scene where your lead is slicing someone’s throat but in a way we’ve all seen before. You probably thought it was fucking brilliant. Guess what?

    It wasn’t.

    To quote the Barenaked Ladies, “It’s all been done.”

    So yeah, feedback and a thick skin. WHEN (NOT IF) you sell something, you’re going to get hit with notes. Probably a lot of them. I obviously don’t know, but from what I’ve read, get ready for a lot of rewriting.

    Rewriting is the fun part anyway. That’s where your script comes alive. I read an interview from here last night from E. Nicholas Mariani that talked about rewriting being the connective tissue, the “scene between the scenes.” That really resonated with me. You can only discover that stuff the second (third, fourth, fifth, sixth…) time around.

    That’s why I have an issue with so many AoW scripts. They are clearly first drafts. They are not thought through. It’s basically a (way too long usually) first draft of some cool scenes you thought of. Guess what? After countless weeks of offerings, how many have really gained traction? Yeah. Exactly.

    I think we are too easy on amateur writers. You sugar coat the issue, they don’t grow. Simple as that. I’ve read notes from friends that always start with “let me know if I’m being too harsh” and the really grinds my gears.

    Let me have it. Make my story better. If you’re polite, I don’t see the problem. If you’re rude, we may have an issue. But I haven’t met anyone here or anywhere else that is a raging douchebag.

    I have to disagree with Carson on three things, though.

    One –

    Don’t read screenplay books right away. I did that. If I could go back, I wouldn’t. Yes, read a book on formatting. Don’t be that guy. BUT, don’t read Save the Cat! and go from there.

    Those bad habits will stick with you. Don’t count pages. Don’t worry about 15 beats. You will hit roadblock after roadblock. Write INTERESTING CHARACTERS doing INTERESTING THINGS that makes us want to KNOW WHAT HAPPENS.

    If your inciting incident doesn’t land on page 10, an executive isn’t going to jump out of a bush and murder you.

    The best way to describe if something is good to me is this rule:

    How many pages have I read before I check to see what page I’m on.

    If it’s good, I don’t check.

    If it’s bad, well, you get it.

    We all do it when we read.

    We’ve read stories our entire lives. We’ve watched countless movies. Telling a story isn’t rocket science. Well, it is, but not really.

    Read SCREENPLAYS. A SHIT TON OF THEM. I’ve read more screenplays in five months than movies I’ve watched in my entire life. And you know what? My scripts are stronger because of it. Half the movies you watch aren’t like the screenplay anyway. READ. READ. READ.

    Because you are –

    WRITING. WRITING. WRITING. They are words. Go outside, feel emotions, nature. Next time you’re on a walk, mentally think how you’d describe where you are in the most interesting, brief way. Not how your favorite movie ALREADY DID IT.

    Two –

    Yes, you should write. Every. FUCKING. Day. No excuses. BUT, it has to be more than five minutes. I know that is metaphor for just spending at least some time on writing, but you’ll get no where.

    Five minutes? Ten minutes? That’s how long it takes me to come up with a fucking tweet for christ’s sake. How many pages do you think you’ll get done in a year writing even 30 minutes a day? Maybe enough to post a new blog entry every couple of days.

    Put your ass in that seat and get excited. Tell sleep to go fuck itself. Tell five minutes to go fuck itself. You’re a writer, not a stopwatch. Get to writing.

    Three –

    Don’t write something because it’s a “commercial idea.” It will be so obvious. Another interview I read from the fucking talent that is Brian Duffield explained how he starts his specs… A thought or emotion that he’s struggling with. That’s what you need to do.

    Yeah, that’s right. YOU.

    Pick something challenging. Pick a flaw in your life. Writing will become therapy and before you know it, you’ve got something good.

    My current project is about relationships. Their complexity… their brutal way of making you vulnerable, exposing you to another soul. How unfair they can be. How they shape us. How in dire situations, knowing the person you are with has your back. Trust. Finding your soul mate.

    The logline? A former couple must survive a road trip during the zombie apocalypse.

    And it’s a fucking rom-com. It’s a dark comedy, but a rom-com nonetheless.

    If you write based only on a commercial idea, that’ll get you a couple scenes. It WON’T get you a deep connection with the reader. Look, we’re all human. We all have fears, worries, problems, complications, themes, ideas, struggles, whatever. Pick one. Tackle it. Challenge yourself. Brian Koppelman bashes this idea into our heads with his six second screenwriting advice vines. They are brilliant.

    Once you’ve grasped the idea you want to work on, then you can attach the story to it. I could have written a dumb comedy about two opposites stuck in car together and all the wacky, crazy things that happen to them. But I grounded it first, then added the story later. I want you to know, at the heart, WHY they are a former couple, HOW that affects the trip, WHY they are even on the trip to begin with. I want you to watch and FEEL them grow, arc, whatever word you want to use for it.

    I don’t want Kevin James butt to touch David Spade’s face for a laugh.

    Your Bridesmaid is a Bitch isn’t just about some guy going to his sister’s wedding where his ex-girlfriend will be. That is the story, sure. But at the core, like Brian says, is the complexity and struggles with relationships we’ve all been in. We’ve all had our hearts broken. Now, I’m sure a very small percentage of us actually have been to our sister’s wedding where our ex was. But we relate to the feeling. It’s pretty universal. No one is reinventing the wheel, here. And it doesn’t need to be, either.

    In conclusion – sorry for ranting. I’m pretty fired up about this. It all comes down to you. Do you want to do this. Like, for reals. Or is it just a hobby?

    Here’s a clue. In the last week, how many hours have you dedicated to a blank page? If it’s less than 15, you might need to reevaluate your goals.

    As always, if anyone wants to connect, trade scripts, or engage in hilarious, off-beat emails while I’m at work, email me.

    driftinginscripts@gmail.com

    I’m also on twitter. I’ve kind of fell off the map there, but I still whip up a few quips every now and then.

    @half_robot

    When I win an Oscar, I will thank all of you in my speech. Especially you, Carson.

    • J. Lawrence Head

      Wow quite verbose there brother. Speaking for myself, my lack of writinng productivity is not so much a lack of inclination but that confluence of time and energy. Between work and commute I’m out 10 hours from the time im up. By the time I am home I am so fried it’s miraculous to even stay awake.

      • drifting in space

        I got all kinds of riled up.

        I hear you, though. Every day I think to myself, “I wish writing was my career so I could spend all day doing that.”

        Unfortunately, the only way there is this path.

        I have been known to take bathroom breaks (naps) at work. :) Thank goodness for private bathroomssssssssss!

        • J. Lawrence Head

          LOL yeah, I hear ya. My motivation is unshaken. But one should should never drive or type tired… both can have disastrous results. Either your car or your script can end up a flaming pile of scrap.

          • drifting in space

            Truth. That’s what the cocaine is for. ;)

          • J. Lawrence Head

            I’d rather be a clean failure than a coked up success. :P

          • drifting in space

            Hahahaha. Word.

            If I was doing coke, I’d probably be dead by now.

          • J. Lawrence Head

            I’d give ya a eulogy worthy of film.

    • Citizen M

      [x] impressive

    • wlubake

      Can I put the 2 hours I spent reading this comment into my 15 hour quota for the week? Just kidding. Glad to see the passion.

      • drifting in space

        That exact thought crossed my mind when I hit submit. LOL

    • Kay Bryen

      I read every word and this is an SS article on its own, one for the archives for sure! Thanks a mill for lending us the fire in your belly when we’re running low. Cha’mone!

    • Awescillot

      I’m glad you had the time to put all of this down in between crammy commutes and time with the wifey. Read it as if it was just another article here on SS, so big up to you.

      And good luck on your Writer’s Store submission, deadline is tomorrow so I’m sure you’ll get back to us with some news!

      • drifting in space

        Thank you very much and I hope so! Though it was my first attempt in that genre. A few folks from SS submitted. We’ll see!

    • romer6

      Great post, drifting in space (you should use an alias, that is a huge username!). We can tell you´re really passionate about writing. I used to think I also was, but I´ve been neglecting the craft. I must (and I will) put more effort starting tomorrow! In fact I decided I will produce some of my own material (shorts and webseries) as a way to create a portfolio of my work. I found it to be a good way to be seen and recognized, specially when you live in another country, far, far away.

    • carsonreeves1

      Wow, this may be the comment of the year!

      • drifting in space

        Thanks, Carson. I really appreciate the platform you’ve provided that allows me to rant and rave.

        “We’re consistently pushing 70+ on most articles. That is fucking stellar y’all.”

        And you were the 71st comment. Crazy.

      • Alexander Felix

        Fantastic article, Carson, and yes, drifting, your reply was truly inspirational. Time to go write!

      • Panos Tsapanidis

        Great articles spawn great comments.

    • Bobby

      Great article drifting. I always think of athletes or musicians when I need motivation. When I listen to a guitar solo, I’ll be like…I want my script to read how that sounds: Engaging, Emotional, Exciting and courier shredding awesome. Then I remind myself that solo and indeed the entire song didn’t simply materialize. It took time, talent, dedication, perseverance and something to express/say.

      One other thing, how you survive on 3-4 hours sleep is incredible. I’m not the world’s greatest snoozer by any means but I do cherish it!

    • Malibo Jackk

      A former couple try to revive an old relationship — during a zombie apocalypse.

      • drifting in space

        Yeah, I’m only a third of the way through so I’m hoping something strikes.

    • Lasemcbride

      Anyone willing to give my screenplay a read and some critique?

    • ghost

      “I don’t want Kevin James butt to touch David Spade’s face for a laugh”

      No, that would make it an Adam Sandler movie

    • drifting in space

      Hi all,

      I just wanted to say that everyone who reached out to me via email or on here, I love y’all. I’ve never met such a great cast of characters and I feel blessed to have come across this site and meeting all of you.

      I can’t wait to get to know you, exchange scripts and feedback, and just help each other along the way.

      Y’all rock!

      Also, for everyone that started off their email not knowing my name — It’s Michael. :)

  • andyjaxfl

    I was going to type a longer response but decided to go back to work on my script after reading this article and all of the great comments. This site and the commenters are the best.

  • CRAYONSEED

    Great article.

  • DD

    Thanks for the pep talk! Love those!

  • Jim Jones Juice

    Great article. Great advice… and I thought CR had no time for b&w films. This year I started a script in Feb., a thriller (a tough genre: my eighth script and my first straight thriller.) At first I thought I was going to have a simple plot; but then ambition got the best of me; and the thing expanded… MEGA style!!! But I was loving it.

    I even went to H/wood in May. Spent May, June and August near USC (my buddy had a gig looking after nearby rooms there and he hooked me up for free.) However, my script was not ready… and I just drank beer and smoked pot, rode my bike around LA for the first three weeks. Just happy to be in H/wood.

    And then I got back at it…

    My free digs ended in August and though I had a ‘version’ of my super-complex thriller, I nor it was ready. So I left LA still without a readable script… I pressed on… and then one day in October I finished. I had the story I wanted, but it was now 211 pages. I was going to send it to the ‘trackingb’ contest… and I finished it the day of the deadline (October 11th); but when I read it later the next day.. POS as I noticed some unacceptable typos: but hey, I had my story.

    Now I’m in the midst of a Page 1 rewrite and the only thing that remains is the theme… and the thrills. But I have constricted myself to 120 pages MAX… and not only this, but I’m readying two other scripts I wrote ten years ago (and put in a drawer); and heading back to LA mid-January (though no free digs this time.) I know now what LA looks like, have the lay of the land in my head. Things will go as God wishes, but I’ll have my three scripts… ready.

    So a there’s a lot of truth in the above article.

  • http://www.erikvidal.com/ Erik Vidal

    Dov Simens, at one point during his 2-day producing course, said, when anyone calls him up asking for advice (“How do I get my script read?”, “How do I get my film made / financed?” etc), he immediately cuts them off with, “Wait, hold on, tell me something first: how many scripts did you read this week?” If the answer is less then “2”, he just hangs up the phone–figures they’re not serious about being in the industry. Have to say, guy’s got a point…

  • ripleyy

    I’m not ashamed to say I enjoy writing tremendously. I write as often as I can and I have the dedication to prove it but I’m never finished, there is always something to fix, something to add, writing is never-ending. In fact, I have a whole set-up which allows me to add ideas I like, and if I think they are potential, I move them to another folder and then if they work out from there I add them to yet another folder.

    The point being is, is writing isn’t difficult but it comes with its fears. You want to learn, sure, get those books. I personally think it’s better with interaction, though. Or you can pay one of Carson’s little helpers where you pay them money to read it and tell you how awful or excellent it is.

    But never rush it. I know some people want to get their script in AF as soon as possible but I’ve been on this site for, what? 3 years now? I’ve seen and read every single article and review, and I’ve read and looked at every AF that has came by and even though that would be great, I never rush it.

    The problem isn’t writing, it’s knowing when too much is enough and when you know you’re fixing a screenplay too much to the point it’s caused you more troubles than it’s worth.

    But, like I said, there is always something to add, to fix and always something to rewrite for the sixth-hundredth time. You want to be professional, you gotta think it.

    • drifting in space

      Bingo.

  • drifting in space

    Hey, me too!

  • drifting in space

    I don’t know what other genre could exploit the absurdity of relationships and what they cause even rational people to do.

    The only problem I have is when they lean too far one way. There are two people in a romantic relationship. Getting both sides allows for tension, humor, and real life experiences.

    That’s what I love about good romantic comedies.

    My defense mechanism with almost everything is comedy. Even with my wife.

    I hide my insecurities behind sarcasm, outlandish jokes, whatever it takes to distract from the real issue.

    And it comes out in my therapy… I mean writing.

  • drifting in space

    Brilliant as always.

  • https://twitter.com/deanmaxbrooks deanb

    And the BIGGEST tip of all: If you’re struggling with writer’s block, don’t take a job as a caretaker for a secluded hotel over the winter.

    This is a great article. I think getting feedback is one of the biggest points. It’s so easy to get caught in the trap of writing into the void and thinking what you’re producing is obviously gold. I remember reading in ‘On Writing” by Stephen King that he said he would hang every reject letter on a nail posted above his desk. And that nail filled up pretty fast.

    The Page Awards offers judge’s feedback for $95, you’ve got Carson’s team linked above, and there’s a number of other gurus (David Trottier, for instance) who provide reads for varying prices.

  • Alex Palmer

    Nice post. This has been a vintage day for comments.

  • Occasional Guest

    Make it personal..

  • klmn

    #11 Be like Mr. Ed. Never speak write unless you’ve got something to say. Now I don’t believe Mr. Ed ever wrote a script, but if he did it would be about something important. Some of the amateur Friday scripts are about something so trivial that no one could care about it.

    • drifting in space

      Yep.

      When finding a cure for X is the ENTIRE story, it’ll look like all the other find a cure for X movies that are out there.

      That’s the problem I had with World War Z. The whole movie was pretty much (a very handsome) Brad Pitt finding a (Pepsi) cure. It was no better than an AOW script.

  • Awescillot

    This post now resonates through my mind. Nicely put, grendl.

  • walker

    Interesting article today by Carson, and an excellent comment by drifting in space. Grendl’s comment is a beautiful little essay, he is pretty much my favorite monster.

  • kidbaron

    Good stuff.

  • Bobby

    “See it’s that connection where the story is. Not in how individuals are different from us, but in our similarities.”

    So true.

  • Kirk Diggler

    I plead guilty.

    • klmn

  • Panos Tsapanidis

    Those who master the tangibles become teachers, those who master the intangibles become screenwriters.

  • kenglo

    AAARGH!! Now I know why I am stuck on page 70! My characters have no SOUL!! Thanks for the reminder Grendl. As always, your insight to STORY motivates me to a higher level. I think I can push through the final act now. Thank you!!

  • kenglo

    “Who ARE you???”

    “I’m Batman.”

    This is a great post…..I read it again, I’m at work, and all I want to do now is write!