First Draft: Step Up Your Game With These Seven New Year’s Resolutions For Screenwriters

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1. Don’t Write More, Write Smarter

A common New Year’s resolution for writers is to write more, as far as finding more time to write. The problem is that this is often an unattainable goal due to the regular life schedule that returns in January after the long holiday season. Full-time jobs. Full-time school. Full-time parenting. It’s a reality that can’t be escaped, which is why this New Year’s resolution often fails before it even has a chance.

So the key is to not write more. It’s to write smarter. When you do have the time to sit down and write, you need to utilize that time in a more productive manner. You need to have better preparation. This notion of just writing more frequently doesn’t matter if you’re not writing quality work. And to write quality work, you need to be ready when you do get that time.

The trick is to see the film through your mind’s eye as clearly as possible before you type one single word. Writing on the fly might lead to some unexpected treasures, but a majority of the time, it goes nowhere. Know what you plan on writing in any given writing session. Before you take advantage of those precious moments of writing, think about what you’re going to write. Daydream. Pick a scene or sequence of scenes and visualize it over and over and over as you drive to work, cook dinner, head to school, fold laundry, workout, etc. Then by the time you sit down to actually write with your pen to paper or fingers to keys, you’re actually writing some quality work that you’ve technically already written in your head dozens or hundreds or thousands of times already.

How many eight hour sessions of “writing” actually equate to eight hours worth of written material? If you’re not kidding yourself, it’s more like six hours of staring at the screen, reading books, people-watching in the coffee shop, listening to music, “breaking” for lunch, etc. And then there’s maybe an hour of rewriting, reading your previous pages, and editing. But then, there’s that magical hour (give or take) where everything falls into place and the inspiration finally comes to.

When you properly prepare yourself for that writing session, you can make every single minute and hour count—and then you won’t be asking yourself the impossible as far as adding more time in your schedule that you probably don’t have.

Don’t write more. Write smarter.

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