The Discipline of Screenwriting – Part 2
In Part 1, Do You Have the Discipline to Be a Screenwriter?, we discussed the hard truth that, when it comes to building writing discipline, there’s no shortcut. You simply have to choose to write every working day, and over time, your momentum will make the choice easier, even compulsive.
“But,” you may ask, “are there any other ways to make that choice to write each day a little bit easier?” Great question! And the answer, happily, is yes: there are many ways to grease the skids, and here are four.
First, find your why.
This is a favorite among TED-talkers, and it’s a powerful truth. When you have a reason to write that’s greater than your excuses and greater than the obstacles, the choice to write moves from a want to an internal imperative. While you can still refuse it, doing so becomes a lot harder because you’re denying yourself a step toward the person you want to be. If you can hone in on a powerful why for your writing, you can use it to get over that daily hump of choosing to write.
Second, build your workshop.
I’m a huge believer that atmosphere has a significant influence on habits. Get your preferred tools (digital or otherwise), put on music (or don’t), get into work clothes (even if they’re pajamas). Every sight, sound, smell, and sensation can help move you into your story mind. Whatever you can do to create a writing experience that stokes your imagination, do it, because when your creativity has a haven, choosing to write becomes that much easier.
Third, hone your routines.
For me, it’s simple. I take my time, brew a cup of strong coffee, maybe listen to some music, and let my mind and emotions turn toward the story I’ve been working on. If I have to, I’ll read the work I’ve done up to that point, the whole script if necessary. Eventually, I settle in, and I’m ready to write, and once I’m there, I don’t leave till my day’s work is done. And ninety-nine percent of the time, my work gets done.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, give yourself permission to suck.
So many writers don’t even start because they’re afraid—no, they know—that whatever they’re about to write will be terrible, and they don’t want to be terrible! But here’s a secret: all initial drafts are terrible. Good in places, but overall, horrifying. This is true for the greats and the beginners and everyone in between, and once you realize that that’s okay, you can master your fear of getting in front of the page. Remember, you’ll never show this early stuff to anyone! You’ll have time to revise! And best of all, no one will judge you for it. Ever. So don’t be afraid. Write.
Find your why, build your workshop, hone your routines, and give yourself permission to suck, and I guarantee you, that little choice to walk up to the keys and work will become much, much easier. Good luck out there!