I get email:
Hi, Scott. Happy new year!
Just dropping you a quick note to thank you. I finished my first first draft of a feature script just a few days ago. It was my goal to finish before the year was out, and your online classes this past spring helped me get there. And as much as all your lessons made sense then, they make even more sense this side of “The End.” Honestly, finishing this script crystallized everything you taught me.
Thanks again, Scott. On to the next one.
My response to Jeff:
Appears that you really ‘got’ it re process. Two keys: Break the story in prep. Then do everything you can to get from FADE IN to FADE OUT. Get something down on paper. For some writers, maybe not the best approach, especially seasoned vets who just know they are going to finish. But for writers who have yet to knock out three, five or more scripts, it’s important to establish that foundation of confidence that this is something you can do because this is something you have done.
I don’t necessarily subscribe to the whole 10,000 hour rule. Every writer is different. That said, there is something about simply doing the work and producing the product that translates into understanding… knowledge… confidence.
You’ve done it. Therefore you can do it.
One of my goals here on the blog and through the writing classes I teach is not only to provide solid theory, but principles and practices grounded in the realities of life as a professional screenwriter… the daily grind, the weight of expectations, the pressure.
You need to develop that belief based on experience that you can deliver the goods. If you go up for a writing assignment, you must have faith that in 10 weeks or whatever the contract calls for, you will give them a script they will – at the very least – recognize as a strong effort in moving the project forward.
Therefore your chops in doing research, brainstorming ideas, developing characters, working the plot, understanding themes, and all the rest require a certain amount of experience. And you can only gain that experience by… doing it.
When I interviewed Craig Mazin (The Hangover, Part 2, Identity Thief) and asked him what his best excuse not to write was, this was his reply:
I don’t need one. That’s the truth. If I don’t feel like writing, then I’m not writing. I mean, there are things during the day that I kind of look forward to, like lunch with a friend. My son plays baseball. He has his baseball practices, and I go out there and I run around and get my exercise on the field, but also I’m avoiding writing. But then I do it. Then I write. For instance, today I haven’t written anything, but I’m about to. I can just tell. It’s like one of those days where I just know this is like an evening thing where I’m going to sit outside, and I’m going to write four or five pages. I just know it.
That is where you want to get, that level of self-confidence. And how do you know you can do it? By having done it.