Okay, when you start a new screenplay it’s a new shot at success both personally and professionally. You’ll need a few solid disciplines to help with the daily grind of filling your blank pages. Here are my Top 10 Daily Disciplines of a Screenwriter… (drum roll)…
1. Each day, act like a professional in all action and manner. This includes taking the craft seriously and respecting the mountain writers climb daily.
2. Learn your strengths and weaknesses as a writer and continually work on both daily to become an excellent screenwriter.
3. Detach from the work and the outcome for daily survival. It’s going to be a long haul to reach any level of success.
4. Carve out a schedule and protect your precious writing time. Beware! The forces of distraction and procrastination lurk everywhere to derail your splendid screenwriting plans. “Work every day. No matter what has happened the day or night before, get up and bite on the nail.”—Ernest Hemingway.
5. Empower yourself daily by doing your homework. Information and knowledge is powerful currency in Hollywood. Stay up to date on the film business, read scripts, watch current and old movies, and study film history and the artists who came before you.
6. Do not dread the rewrite. That’s when your script starts getting good. Writing is rewriting so get used to the process.
7. Take responsibility for your career and don’t blame others for your lack of success. Do something every day to plant a flag on the playing field and push your career forward.
8. Take chances. Be brave and don’t be afraid to fail miserably. Fear and insecurity love to scare off screenwriters—these destructive emotions hate those who get knocked down but get up before the “ten count” and start screenwriting again. Take your lumps, but always fight back by continually learning, getting better, and doing the work. It’s all part of the process on your journey to becoming an excellent screenwriter.
9. Practice humility. Accept the reality it will take more than one screenplay to make some noise. In fact, it may take ten to sell the first one — or maybe never. If you are not humble now, the longer you pursue a career this business will humble you. The craft is bigger than you’ll ever be. Check your ego at the door. Become a sponge to soak up knowledge from mentors so you can expand your writer’s toolbox.
10. Be patient. An overnight success is usually ten years or 10,000 hours in the making. I hope you’re in this for the long haul because it’s going to be a marathon. Don’t forget to enjoy the little successes along the way. They add up to that one “big success”.
Keep the faith and keep filling your blank pages. If you stop writing you’ll never have any shot at success.
Copyright 2021 by Mark Sanderson on blog My Blank Page.
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“Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear?”― Lao Tzu
“The professional also “dedicates himself to mastering technique not because he believes technique is a substitute for inspiration but because he wants to be in possession of the full arsenal of skills when inspiration does come.”—Steven Pressfield, “The War of Art”
“… the payoff of playing-the-game-for-money is not the money (which you may never see anyway, even after you turn pro). The payoff is that playing the game for money produces the proper professional attitude. It inculcates the lunch-pail mentality, the hard-core, hard-head, hard-hat state of mind that shows up for work despite rain or snow or dark of night and slugs it out day after day.”—Steven Pressfield, “The War of Art”
“There’s a certain pride among people who’re good—a race car driver, a flier, a baseball player, a hockey player, anything like that—the primary thing is to do a really good job. They forget everything else in order to do it right—it’s their job; they’re supposed to do it. You get a stunt team in air acrobatics—if one of them is no good, they’re all in trouble.”—director Howard Hawks, interview with Peter Bogdanovich in “Who the Devil Made It”