How to write a screenplay: 4 common reasons not to start


How to write a screenplay? Do you want to write a script but don’t know where to start? Do you have an idea but aren’t sure how to get it out and onto paper or into the computer?

A lot of people have a desire to write but just don’t know where to begin.

1. I’m not ready.
2. I’m too busy.
3. I don’t have all the answers yet.
4. I’m not a writer.

Well if you have had an idea swimming around inside you for a while then you are definitely ready, so that’s no 1 gone.

Being too busy is a reality for many of us but we could probably all find a little time each day; there are plenty of books available on time management.

You’ll never have all the answers at the start and this is true of any new task or skill you want to learn. It’s called the fear of making a mistake, wanting it to be perfect, wanting not to fail. If we give in to this one we will never start anything.

Do you think you’re not writer? Well maybe so because not everyone can be but have you tried yet? Or is it just another way of not starting? You won’t know you’re a writer until you’ve written lots and lots. And here’s the rub – the more we do something, the better we get at it: so you can scrub number 4 too.

Let’s look at ways to begin at the beginning.

Have you heard that old chestnut, “a thousand mile journey starts with a single step”? I’m sure you have. Writing is just like that. You can dance around the issue for years but until you sit down and write the story you’ve always wanted to write, it just won’t happen.

The best place to begin is wherever you are now. Make some space in your life and dedicate it to your writing. Find a physical place to work where you won’t be disturbed and begin to make it a habit to go there and write, even if it’s only half an hour a day. Have a pen and paper waiting there or set up your computer so it’s ready to go.

Write constantly for that period and don’t worry if it’ not great quality material. We want to write a first draft, not a finished masterpiece.

If you write a page a day that would be 365 pages a year and that’s a good sized novel! A screenplay is much shorter than that. Half a page a day would hit around the 180 page mark. That could be two first draft screenplays! Can you imagine how satisfying it would be to have 180 pages of your own writing sitting on your desk?

Well, at the start, aim for a ninety page script. With motivation, you can probably write three to four script pages a day. Then you could have a screenplay drafted in one month!

What if you don’t have a story yet?

If you only have one scene in your head, then write it down. Do not wait for inspiration to give you the rest of the story before you write.

Once you begin writing with excitement and enthusiasm you will be desperate to get this story out of the dark recesses of your mind. You will find, with uncanny regularity, different and usable ideas popping into your head. Creativity begins to work when you do. Once you commit yourself to the task in hand, your intuition will begin to nudge your consciousness with mysterious and connected notions. Only when you start to move forward, will your best script ideas follow. The good stuff never makes an appearance while you carry around a lukewarm desire to write something.

Persistent focus on writing will pay huge dividends and it won’t feel like work. Once that story takes hold, you will be excited and passionate and have a keen edge to your thoughts and your ideas. Put pen to paper today!

Check out these posts: How to write a screenplay: Start with the picture in your head, How to write a screenplay: Kick start your script, How to write a screenplay: Freewriting to unleash your creativity and How to write a screenplay: 7 tips for writing a great screenplay.

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