Resource: Writing Groups

March 5th, 2015 by

This week, I’ve been aggregating writing groups arising from a post I did on Monday wherein I asked: Are you a member of a writers group? Lots of responses. Then Go Into The Story Research Assistant Wendy Jane Cohen did her usually brilliant job (thanks, Wendy!) and has come up with this list:

LOS ANGELES AREA

Dramatica Writers Group (Burbank, CA)
Ink Tank Group (Burbank/DTLA)
Hollywood Write Club (Hollywood, CA)
Script It Writers Group (Los Angeles, CA)
Sunday Night Screenwriter’s Group (Los Angeles, CA)
Malibu Screenwriting Group (Malibu, CA)
Orange County Screenwriters (Orange County, CA)
Pasadena Area Screenwriting Group (Pasadena, CA)
Pomona-Claremont (Round-the-way) Screenwriters Group (Pomona, CA)
Coffee House Writers Group (San Dimas, CA)
South Bay Screenwriters (San Pedro, CA)
ScriptWrights (Studio City, CA)
Beyond Baroque Screenwriting Workshop (Venice, CA)
Ventura County Screenwriters Group (Ventura, CA)

NORTH AMERICA (Alphabetized by State)

Phoenix Screenwriters Association (Phoenix, AZ)
Tucson Writers Workshop (Tucson, AZ)
Berkeley Writers Circle (Berkeley, CA)
Desert Screenwriters Group (Palm Springs, CA)
Oxnard Screenwriters (Oxnard, CA)
San Diego Screenwriters Group (San Diego, CA)
San Francisco Screenwriters Group (San Francisco, CA)
Shut Up and Write! (San Francisco / Bay Area, CA)
Litchfield Hills Film Festival – Screenwriters Group (New Milford, CT)
Washington Screenwriters (Washington, D.C.)
Miami Screenwriters (Miami, FL)
Orlando Screenwriters Meetup (Orlando, FL)
Sarasota Writers Group (Sarasota, FL)
Atlanta Screenwriters Anonymous (Atlanta, GA)
Georgia Screenwriting Group (Hiram, GA)
Oahu Shut Up and Write (Honolulu, HI)
Chicagoland Screenwriters and Filmmakers (Chicago, IL)
Chicago Screenwriters Network (Chicago, IL)
New Orleans Screenwriters Group (New Orleans, LA)
Boston Screenwriters Group (Boston, MA)
Noho Screenwriters Workshop (Northampton, MA)
Baltimore Screenwriters Coffee Club (Baltimore, MD)
Minnesota Screenwriters Workshop (Minneapolis, MN)
Kansas City Scriptwriters (Kansas City, MO)
Las Vegas Screenwriters Group (Las Vegas, NV)
New Jersey Screenwriters Network (North NJ)
Long Island Screenwriters Group (New York, NY)
NYC Screenwriters Collective (New York, NY)
Shut Up and Write! (New York, NY)
American Screenwriter’s Association (Cincinnati, OH)
Dysfunctional Screenwriters Society (Philadelphia, PA)
Philly Scriptwriters (Philadelphia, PA)
Tennessee Screenwriting Association (Nashville, TN)
Austin Screenwriters Group (Austin, TX)
Dallas Screenwriters Association (Dallas, TX)
San Antonio Screenwriters Guild (San Antonio, TX)
Salt Lake City Writers Group (Salt Lake City, UT)
Utah Screenwriter’s Group (Salt Lake City, UT)
Northern Virginia Writers Guild (Fairfax, VA)
Burlington Writers Workshop (Burlington, VT)
Seattle Writers Group (Seattle, WA)
Wisconsin Screenwriter’s Forum (Madison, WI)

Canada

The Writers Room (Ottawa, Canada)
Toronto Screenwriters Group (Toronto, Canada)
Vancouver Screenwriters Meetup Group (Vancouver, Canada)

INTERNATIONAL

Europe

Dublin Screenwriters Group (Dublin, Ireland)
Galway Scriptwriters Group (Galway, Ireland)
London Writers’ Circle (London, United Kingdom)
Scottish Screenwriters (Glasgow, Scotland)

Oceana

Sydney Screenwriters Group (Sydney, Australia)

ONLINE

The Academy of Film Writing
The Internet Writing Workshop

FIND A WRITING GROUP / OTHER RESOURCES

LA TV Writers Group (Online Tracking Board)
Meetup Search For A Screenwriting Group In Your Area
The Scriptwriters Network
ScreenPlayLab
JHRTS NY / LA

Three things. First, the inclusion of these groups on GITS does not mean I endorse them, rather I am simply providing them as a resource. You should do due diligence in checking them out for yourself.

Second, if you have a suggestion for another writing group, please post in comments and I’ll be happy to update this post.

Three, this is where this whole initiative started, my thoughts on the matter:

However you do it, connect with other writers. Good ones. Create a writing group. Commit to reading each others’ pages and provide a constructive critique. You’ll help them. They’ll help you. Everyone will become less ‘precious’ with their work. You will be learning how to accept critiques of your material, lock in on the good ideas, then implement them in rewrites.

I am putting this into the Archives as a resource for writers from here on out.

Onward!

Chuck Jones’ Rules for Writing “Road Runner” Cartoons

March 5th, 2015 by

Received this email yesterday from longtime GITS follower filmmaker Amos Posner:

I just tweeted something I realize I should have sent you: Chuck Jones’ rules for the Coyote and Roadrunner. I snapped a picture at the Museum of the Moving Image. It’s an incredible lesson in simple rules establishing characters and a world. Thought you’d enjoy.

Here is the picture:

Posner Chuck Jones

Turns out Amos didn’t need my help in spreading the word as his tweet became part of yesterday’s social media tsunami. I got in touch with Amos asking him his thoughts re Jones’ rules and here is what he had to say:

I took the picture a couple of months ago at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York (which I am told now might not have been allowed), and was reminded of it the other day when I met with an actress friend about a web series for which she had written half a dozen episodes. Her scripts were funny and charming and had a great concept, but something was just a little off. In talking to her, I realized the problem: She hadn’t quite decided on the rules of the show, so the concept didn’t feel consistent from episode to episode. I brought up Jones’ rules as an example. In just nine very concise thoughts, he gets right to the core of what those characters were and why they worked. Almost like an outline of a character or premise, instead of just plot.

A larger lesson of that exhibit is what an omnivore Jones was when it came to influences. Comedians like Buster Keaton were obvious influences, but some of the fine art influences were just as important–like seeing how Degas dancers influenced Bugs Bunny’s posture and movements. Stuff we never would have noticed as kids, but which had major effects.

Re-posted the picture today, and people seem to be really responding to it. Not shocking. These concepts are so simple, but cut so deep. I can’t tell whether the rest of us are over-thinking or under-thinking things.

We may be doing both. We under-think when we don’t perceive our story’s physical environment as a character. It has its own personality and tone which includes its physics. The narrative benefits when we are proactive on this front and really think through the specifics and nature of our story universe.

On the other hand, we can get so wrapped up in the complexities of a story universe, we lose sight of the basics. In that regard, Amos’ point about Jones is prescriptive: “In just nine very concise thoughts, he gets right to the core of what those characters were and why they worked.”

As example of hitting the notes just right, here is a taste of “Road Runner”:

Thanks, Amos, for providing this bit of storytelling enlightenment.

Amos has a movie coming out: B-Side which is rolling out in April. Here is the movie’s website. Be sure to check it out.

Twitter: @AmosPosner.

Writing Groups (cont’d)

March 3rd, 2015 by

I posted something yesterday about writing groups and got an initial flurry of responses, so here is a preliminary list:

North America

Phoenix Screenwriters Association (Phoenix, AZ)

Tuscon Writers Workshop (Tuscon, AZ)

Berkeley Writers Circle (Berkeley, CA)

Beyond Baroque Screenwriting Workshop (Venice, CA)

Desert Screenwriters Group (Palm Springs, CA)

Orange County Screenwriters Association (Orange County, CA)

San Francisco Screenwriters Group (San Francisco, CA)

Shut Up and Write! (San Francisco / Bay Area, CA)

Litchfield Hills Film Festival – Screenwriters Group (New Milford, CT)

Washington Screenwriters (Washington, D.C.)

Miami Screenwriters (Miami, FL)

Sarasota Screenwriters (Sarasota, FL)

Chicagoland Screenwriters and Filmmakers (Chicago, IL)

New Orleans Screenwriters Group (New Orleans, LA)

Baltimore Screenwriters Coffee Club (Baltimore, MD)

Kansas City Scriptwriters (Kansas City, MO)

Las Vegas Screenwriters Group (Las Vegas, NV)

Long Island Screenwriters Group (New York, NY)

NYC Screenwriters Collective (New York, NY)

Shut Up and Write! (New York, NY)

Dallas Screenwriters Association (Dallas, TX)

Burlington Writers Workshop (Burlington, VT)

Seattle Writers Group (Seattle, WA)

The Writers Room (Ottawa, Canada)

Toronto Screenwriters Group (Toronto, Canada)

Europe

Dublin Screenwriters Group (Dublin, Ireland)

Galway Scriptwriters Group (Galway, Ireland)

London Writers’ Circle (London, United Kingdom)

Oceana

Sydney Screenwriters Group (Sydney, Australia)

Online

The Academy of Film Writing

The Internet Writing Workshop

If you have other suggestions, please post in comments.

Question: Are you a member of a writing group?

March 2nd, 2015 by

The other day, I posted my take on “constructive critique,” the philosophy we use in my classes and workshops. In it, I said this:

However you do it, connect with other writers. Good ones. Create a writing group. Commit to reading each others’ pages and provide a constructive critique. You’ll help them. They’ll help you. Everyone will become less ‘precious’ with their work. You will be learning how to accept critiques of your material, lock in on the good ideas, then implement them in rewrites.

I received quite a few emails over the weekend with these type of questions:

* How do I go about finding/joining/creating a writing group?

* Is there a list somewhere of writing groups?

And so I pose those questions to the GITS community. I know of some screenwriting groups including these:

Dallas Screenwriters Association

Desert Screenwriters Group (Palm Springs)

Long Island Screenwriters Group

If you know of others, please post in comments with a link. Let’s see if we can create / aggregate a list of writing groups and I’ll be happy to create an archive for those.

Beyond that, if you are a member of a writing group, how did you find it? What advice would you have for individuals seeking information on writing groups?

As always, thanks for your help, people!

What I shared today with my UNC Chapel Hill students

February 12th, 2015 by

Today was the first time I would meet with my students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill after the tragic shooting deaths on Tuesday in this university town.

The deceased: Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha. Barakat was a second-year student in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry. His wife Yusor, a North Carolina State University graduate, was planning to enter the UNC School of Dentistry in the fall. Razan was a student at N.C. State in nearby Raleigh.

I have been a visiting lecturer at UNC Chapel Hill since 2008, teaching in the Writing for Screen and Stage program within the Communication Studies Department. The class I am teaching this semester – History of American Screenwriting – has 25 students. They are a wonderful group of young women and men. Smart, enthusiastic, curious, energetic.

Today’s session: A discussion of this week’s movie Double Indemnity, our conversation guided by each of the student’s weekly research papers which we go through together in class. The learning that goes on in our Thursday meetings is remarkable, lively sessions filled with all sorts of insights, conjecture, and analysis.

Late last night, I felt compelled to say something to my students about this act of senseless violence which has shocked the university and our community of Chapel Hill. Here is what I shared:

Before we start class today, I’d like to spend a few minutes talking about the tragic events of Tuesday afternoon… the shooting deaths of three young people here in Chapel Hill.

There are no words.

In the immediacy of this violence, there are no words to create any sort of context within which we can make sense of what transpired.

So we hug our friends…
We reach out to our families…
We attend vigils for the victims…
We offer silent benedictions on their behalf.

These are right and good things to do.

But in the bigger picture, there are words.
Words which each of us…
You and I…
Can use.

As writers.
Screenwriters. TV writers. Playwrights. Novelists. Poets. Journalists.

We can use words to write…
Stories.

What can stories do?

In stories, we can create characters…
Who put a human face on others…
On The Other.
People whose skin color is different than ours.
Whose religion is different.
Whose sexual orientation is different.
Whose socioeconomic and cultural background is different.
Whose behaviors, language, clothes, and habits are different.

We can tell stories that convey the humanity we all share.
We can shrink the emotional and psychological distance between…
This person… and that person.

With stories, we can create a sense of personal identification.
So instead of looking at Them as an It… They become You.
With more stories, You becomes We.
And with even more stories, We becomes Us.

With stories, we can transform The Other…
Into a Brother… or a Sister.

We can speak the one undeniable, unalterable truth.
That we all exist on this speck of earth…
Amidst an unfathomably vast universe…
Each of our lifespans a relative nanosecond.

Amidst the awesome mystery of that existence… of life itself…
The differences between us lie merely on the surface.
The similarities go deep under the skin and are essential to who we are as people.

Where some would dehumanize others…
We can write stories that humanize them.

Telling stories is not a panacea.
Violence will never go away.
Evil will always have its place.

But if we write stories…
To expose injustice… to celebrate diversity…
To explore the unknown… to dimensionalize what is known…
To engage our fears… to inspire our hopes…
And always in some way to verbalize and visualize our common humanity…

Perhaps next time…
One human being won’t pull the trigger on another human being.
One human being instead of raising a fist will offer a handshake.
Acknowledging that this is a fellow traveler on a journey we are all taking…
A journey called Life.

Today words are hard to come by…
As we try to offer prayers of support to the victims’ families and friends…
And struggle to put together simple sentences to make sense of this tragedy.

But over time, words will come.
As storytellers, I encourage you to embrace this power we have as writers…
Use your words.

Use your words to tell stories.
Stories that make us laugh… make us cry…
Make us angry… make us scared…
Make us wonder… make us think…
But always make us realize…

The humanity we all share.

Writers, we can’t control the violent acts of others. But we can write. Words have power when shaped into stories. Let’s re-commit ourselves today to write stories worth reading… stories worth hearing… stories worth watching.

Do it for young people everywhere.

Do it for Deah, Yusor, and Razan.

Do it for humanity.

Do it for the good of your soul.

Deah, along with other UNC Dental School students, created Project: Refugee Smiles – The Syrian Dental Relief Fund. If you wish to do something beyond using your words, you can use your money to support this worthy cause in honor of Deah, his wife and sister-in-law.

UPDATE: The Syrian Dental Relief Fund has become an ad hoc memorial fund for Deah’s dream and the response over the last 24 hours has been astonishing. With an original goal of $20,000 in an end date 168 days from now, when I last checked, the crowdfunding site had raised $280,000! Here is a video Deah made sharing his vision for this relief operation:

Please help Deah’s dream come to fruition by supporting this effort. Perhaps with enough money, it can become an ongoing relief entity, providing dental care in other needy areas. In any event, it is a wonderful testament to a young man with a passion for giving whose life was cut short.

To make your contribution, go here.

Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling

January 12th, 2015 by

14 movies produced. 14 movies #1 at the box office. Worldwide B.O. gross of $8.5 billion. Average B.O. per film: $608M by far the highest average per film of any studio in Hollywood history.

It’s not just dollars and cents, it’s also quality storytelling. 26 Academy Awards, 7 Golden Globes, 3 Grammys. Indeed 7 of Pixar’s 14 films are in the IMDB Top 250 Movies of all time.

No disrespect to Disney, but I think the real Magic Kingdom lies 397.8 miles north of Anaheim in a city called Emeryville, California where you’ll find this:

Pixar_Animation Studios

Longtime GITS readers know of my obsession fascination with Pixar having blogged about them dozens of times. Due to having two sons who quite literally have grown up in what someday is likely to be called the Pixar Era, I have seen every one of the company’s movies, most of them several times.

In my estimation, the filmmakers at Pixar are master storytellers.

But how do they successfully wrangle magic time after time in their films? Are there lessons we can learn from Pixar to inspire and upgrade our own writing?

Those are two key questions I undertook in creating the online course Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling. My answer: An emphatic yes!

First off, there are the practices Pixar uses in developing, breaking, writing and rewriting a script. In our 1-week class, we go through that process step by step, then see how we can adapt that approach to our own writing.

Then there are several narrative principles evident in Pixar movies, six of them we focus in our online class: Small Story / Substantial Saga, Special Subculture, Strange Sojourners, Separation, Sentimentality, and Surprise. Going through every Pixar movie, we explore how these dynamics work in the context of each narrative and their overall applicability to storytelling.

There are 7 lectures, each of which I wrote, the content buttressed by a lengthy interview I conducted with Mary Coleman, Senior Development Executive at Pixar since the days of Toy Story 2, so we get a real inside look the outfit’s creative process.

The class also has a Logline Workshop where you can post a story idea and revise per peer feedback. And two teleconferences to accommodate peoples’ schedules where participants get a chance to dig into the course content with me as well as discuss anything related to writing, screenwriting, and movies.

Here are some nice comments from folks who’ve taken the class:

“I was lucky enough to be able to take Scott’s Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling class. It was my first class and a wonderful experience. I learned a ton and now have some important utensils that will help make all my stories better. Scott’s a great teacher and it was a pleasure learning from him!” — Valencia Stokes

“This course is awesome. I refer to these notes and lessons all the time.” — Traci Nell Peterson

“A course on Pixar movies? Apart from legitimately letting out my inner child and renting Up ‘for research purposes, I learnt about the ethos of the Pixar Brain Trust and the essential elements contained in all of their movies. Scott took us on an all-inclusive week long journey into why Pixar are so successful and how to practically apply this to your own script.” — Camilla Castree

“I recommend this course wholeheartedly. Plus you get to watch Pixar films as homework.” — TheQuietAct

“Scott Myers is a brilliant teacher and unites his knowledge and experience, insight and depth of thought in his lectures as well as he is providing help and support to his students. I highly recommend the class.” — Eva Brandstätter

A few words about the format: I’ve been teaching online since 2002, worked with over 1000 writers in that context, and honestly believe it is superior to the onsite class environment in many ways:

* You can do virtually everything on your own time: Download lectures, read forum conversations, add your own comments, upload writing exercises and assignments. In your pajamas. In bed. Drinking coffee. However you want to access online course content, you can do it.

* As opposed to listening to a teacher present lectures verbally, you get to download lectures and read them. Again at your leisure, but even more importantly, instead of feverishly trying to jot down notes from a verbal presentation, here you get everything laid out for you. I take great pride in my lectures, as they not only provide great content, they also have a narrative flow to them. Yes, they tell a little story.

* Feedback and conversations online tend to be much more thoughtful and therefore beneficial than onsite settings. Why? Because instead of off-the-cuff, random comments, participants online tend to spend more time and reflection in composing posts for online.

Finally I’m constantly amazed at how much of a community emerges in online class environments. Writers from all around the world and somehow we bind together into remarkably vibrant learning communities, time and time again.

So if you’ve never tried an online screenwriting class, come on in! The virtual water’s fine!

For more information on Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling, go here. And if you really want to treat yourself well, consider The Craft Package for a nearly 50% savings on Craft classes.

Did you know Pixar has two movies being released in 2015? Inside Out which comes out in the U.S. on June 19 and The Good Dinosaur which arrives on November 25. By the looks of it, two more four quadrant films from the studio, appealing to young and old, male and female. This makes the timing doubly good to take Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling.

I look forward to the opportunity to work with you! Or to put it another way…

TO INFINITY AND BEYOND!

Video: “Best Writing Trick I Know”

January 12th, 2015 by

HT to screenwriter Mike Le (@WriterLe) for tweeting the link to this video with nifty piece of writing advice from author Victoria Schwab:

It’s funny how little things can work as motivators. A calendar and stickers? Why not! That’s not the only way to get one’s derriere on chair and actually write. I believe it was an interview I read with Neil Simon who would tell himself, “Okay, I finish this scene, I can go have a snack.” Hell, for some kinds of work, I use the Pomodoro Technique.

The point is whatever works!

As fate would have it, I ran across this article today: How to Stop Procrastinating: 4 Steps Backed by Research. Here is a summary of those steps:

* You don’t need more willpower. You need to build a solid habit that helps you get to work.

* Getting started is the tricky part. Turn that habit into a “personal starting ritual.” It can even have some fun to it as long as it signals that in a few minutes, it’s time to get cranking.

*The most powerful habits change how you see yourself. Think about what makes you feel like someone who gets things done and make that a part of your starting ritual.

*Eat chocolate with friends. Maybe not literally, but it’s a good reminder that you need both rewards and a support network to build rock solid new habits.

That “solid habit” angle is key. I’m reminded of a quote from screenwriter Frank Pierson (Cool Hand Luke, Dog Day Afternoon:

“Sit down at ten o’clock in the morning and write anything that comes into my head until twelve. One of the few things I’ve discovered about writing is to form a habit that becomes an addiction so that if you don’t put something down on paper every day, you get really mean and awful with withdrawal symptoms, and your wife and your dog and your kids are going to kick your ass until you get back to it because they can’t bear you in that state of mind.”

“Form a habit that becomes an addiction.” To get there, if you need cute little stickers… or a bowl full of Fritos… or a timer program on my computer that says, “Get your ass in gear for a writing session,” then when I finish responds, “Great job, genius”… just do it.

How about you? Do you have any fun bits of business you do to motivate yourself to write? Please share them in comments, okay?

You can subscribe to Victoria Schwab’s YouTube channel here.

Write Every Day + Dare To Suck = Productive Writing

January 6th, 2015 by

I pulled this from comments from a recent blog post on time management:

cilly247 says:
January 6, 2015 at 12:00 PM

In short, ineffectively. All these are really useful tools.

I used to think that starting off at 2pm was wasting the morning, but generally that’s when I’m ready to begin. The guilt is there, but I need to stop that. A routine (even if I am on holiday) is the only way I can write. I have to establish it early on, otherwise I flounder.

Thanks Scott!

Scott says:
January 6, 2015 at 1:04 PM

Camilla, one thing I’ve found in my many years of reading about, listening to and now interviewing writers, specifically about their writing habits… everyone is different. Some writer 8-10-12 hours per day. Some write just 1 or 2 hours per day. Some write first thing in the morning. Some in the afternoon. Some at night. There’s no right or wrong.

The trait I see pretty consistently: Write every day. That way, no matter when you start… how much you produce… you’re always making progress. Combine that with somehow dealing with our perfectionism and allowing ourselves to suck (Google Maureen Johnson + Dare To Suck for a great video on this), then that is the basis of how to be a productive writer.

Sounds like the basis of a blog post…

As I was responding to Camilla, it occurred to me I run into this particular combination of advice a lot: Write every day. Allow yourself to suck. In fact, just last night in the course of my interactions online, these two crashed up against each yet again.

First, I moderated the 4th annual Screenwriters Roundtable with Chris Borrelli, Brian Duffield, F. Scott Frazier, Chris McCoy, Justin Rhodes, and Greg Russo, and the consensus among this group of up and coming Hollywood writers is treat writing like a job and write every day. This is not only how they organize their own writing habits, it’s advice they extend to aspiring writers. If your goal is to be a professional screenwriter or TV writer, then develop and use those practices now… which includes writing every day.

Coming off that rousing discussion, I segued over to the Screenwriting Master Class site where the latest session of my Pages I: The First Draft just launched yesterday. In introducing herself, one of the writers said she looked forward to “churning out some vomity shitty pages & learning to be ok with it.” To which I responded:

Gives me the opportunity to plug perhaps my most favorite video of all time courtesy of the wonderfully talented writer Maureen Johnson: Dare to suck!

To those of us who grew up with an atrocious 5th grade teacher who crushed our souls for every undotted “i” or times we drew outside the lines, the very idea of embracing suckitude seems utterly foreign. However if you (and by you, I mean everyone) can claim the right to suck in your first draft, you will find this incredibly liberating.

No one is expecting perfection in the pages you (everyone) churns out in this workshop. Rather as they say in Hollywood, the first draft is the vomit draft. Or per your wonderful description, Kim, the “vomity shitty draft”.

If you (everyone) can embrace the sucky nature of the first draft, that can allow you to have fun, express yourself, test out things. Keep what works. Change the rest.

So here’s to a sucky first draft. But importantly, a complete sucky first draft! Then you’ve got something to work with, work on and work out toward a final non-sucky draft.

Onward!

Here is that Maureen Johnson video:

So I think we have the makings of a piece of writing meets math formula:

Write Every Day + Dare To Suck = Productive Writing

If you can get into the habit of writing every day — no matter when you write, no matter how much you write, just write — and combine that with an embrace of daring to suck — fight back against perfectionism and fear by acknowledging the fact that your first and probably subsequent drafts will inevitably have some measure of suckitude — then you have the foundation for a solid approach to productive writing.

Try putting this to practice in your own writing. If you need a push in that direction, there’s still room in my Pages: First Draft workshop. Break down the first draft process into 10 weeks. Each Monday, you start writing a new sequence. Your goal: 10-15 pages. Each Sunday, you deliver those pages. You write every day. You embrace the suck. You get feedback. Support. Inspiration. And you get from FADE IN to FADE OUT. Not only a first draft, but setting into motion work habits you can carry over into your writing life.

Whatever you do, if you have issues completing scripts or even finding the wherewithal to deposit your derriere on chair to write, consider printing out our zippy little formula: Write Every Day + Dare To Suck = Productive Writing.

Love to hear your thoughts. How do you overcome perfectionism? Fear? Are you a daily writer? How did you manage to do that? See you in comments!

My wishes for you in 2015

January 1st, 2015 by

This blog exists for many reasons and a primary one is to try to elevate the quality of the scripts that funnel into Hollywood and other filmmaking centers worldwide. We deserve better movies. And that starts with a screenplay.

In that spirit, here are some wishes I have for each of you in 2015.

May you be creative.
May you develop a relationship with your Creativity that enables it to grow.
May you channel your Creativity into an empowering writing process.

May you feed your imagination by reading great books and screenplays.
May you find inspiration by watching and analyzing movies.
May those ideas and images make your writing that much better.

May you claim your right to be a writer.
May you find the persistence to exercise that right every day.
May your daily diligence translate into plenty of FADE OUTs.

May you fall in love with words.
May you use strong verbs and vivid descriptors.
May your pages come alive in the minds of readers.

May you generate a bounty of story concepts.
May you push yourself to work on only the very best ones.
May at least one of them be the basis for a truly commercial script.

May you get to know your characters in the deepest possible ways.
May they speak to you through their words and actions.
May you have the courage to follow their lead when writing each and every scene.

May you learn to live with the voices of negativity in your mind.
May you grasp the fact that all writers deal with doubts.
May you understand the only power those doubts have is that which we give them.

May you write.
May you rewrite.
May you finish.

May you find your passion.
May you follow that passion into stories flowing from your soul.
May those stories come into being as great scripts.

There are so many things about what we do we can not control.
We can not control agents and managers.
We can not control producers.
We can not control studio executives.
We can not control directors.
We can not control business trends.
We can not control a fundamental need for every writer… plain dumb luck.

But we can control this…
Our writing.
The stories we choose to tell…
And the quality of the effort we bring to the process as we write them.

So finally this…

May you always keep your focus on the Writing.
May you develop a vibrant, organic and real relationship to Story.
And together, may your Creativity and Story translate into tales worth writing.

What will you write this year?

Thanks for making GITS a part of your life.
All the best to each of you and your creative endeavors in 2015!

Writing Goals: 2015 – 10 Part Series

December 28th, 2014 by

If you didn’t follow along with the series over the last two weeks and feel like you could use a good year-end reflection as well as taking time to set writing goals for 2015, here you go – all ten posts.

Writing Goals: Part 1 — Looking Back

Writing Goals: Part 2 — Assessing Where You Are

Writing Goals: Part 3 — Where Do You Want To Go As A Writer

Writing Goals: Part 4 — Practical Matters

Writing Goals: Part 5 — Going Public

Writing Goals: Part 6 — Schedule

Writing Goals: Part 7 — Time Management

Writing Goals: Part 8 — First Draft

Writing Goals: Part 9 — The Only Way Out Is Through

Writing Goals: Part 10 — Trust The Process

Here’s to 2015 being your creative and productive year yet!