Getting in the right head space to start writing is something that I haven’t quite mastered. I have so many thoughts and ideas in my head that I know would look great on film, but nothing on paper to prove my concepts. Of course I procrastinate just like everybody else, but there’s got to be something more to it than that. Aren’t you supposed to have a “light bulb” moment where everything becomes clear and the words just start to flow? Although this is something that I clearly struggle with, I have started to develop a writing process that may be of some use.
1. Start Small
I’m sure that every actor will tell you that he or she has a great idea for a movie, television show, or play. You guessed it; I am one of those people. But have you ever tried to write a 90 minute screenplay? It is a daunting task, and one that I have yet to add to my bucket list. Nonetheless it’s something that I think can be accomplished if you start small. What do I mean by small? Try taking that big “90 minute” idea and condensing it into something that can fit on four pages. A four page excerpt is a lot more manageable and is a good way to gauge a scene’s effectiveness in telling your larger story. Plus, it’s something that you can store away and easily revisit at a later point in time.
2. Take Notes
Right now the “notes” section of my iPhone is filled with too many drafts to count. Along with my passwords and social security number (I’m only kidding…) there are a plethora of one liners, log lines, and movie titles that will one day come in handy. The point is that no matter where you may be, inspiration can hit you out of nowhere so you gotta be prepared. Take August Wilson for example. It was well known that he–an established playwright–was no stranger to writing down notes and lines of dialogue on “cocktail napkins”. I’m pretty sure there were no iPhones back then, but he had the right idea.
3. Find a Writing Partner
I know, I know. Your writing is precious and you don’t want anyone else to see it. If it can be seen, it can be judged. And if it can be judged, well, you might find out why your perfect script isn’t so perfect. But isn’t that valuable information regardless? Sometimes we have to bite the bullet and bring in another set of hands to inspire and perhaps, alter the course of our story. Sure you might loose lines or even pages of dialogue, but in a partner you will gain so much more. You will finally have someone to hold you accountable to the words you put on paper. A writing partner will also help you write!
In retrospect, I am beginning to think that maybe there is no “light bulb” moment. Maybe instead of waiting for one specific moment, perhaps there are a series of small moments that when managed correctly, can lead one to a fully finished script.
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