As a screenwriting coach, I tell my clients their number one goal is to finish your screenplay. Don’t get bogged down going back to scenes you’ve already written and rewrite them over and over. Don’t lose sleep over a line of dialogue. It’s a rough draft. Finish it!
Writing the same project can go on for months, and even years. The first draft is one thing. The rewrites can go on, too. When this process takes years, how do you stay interested and motivated enough to keep writing?
1. Fully commit yourself to being a life-long writer.
This is probably the most important decision in your life. If you’re looking to write and sell a screenplay, that is a life-long goal. Hopefully it will happen many times during your career. It will happen more often if you focus on writing for TV.
If you’re going to be a really good writer, who sells scripts, or gets plays made, or gets novels or volumes of poetry published, this better be your top priority.
A lot of great things happen when you make that decision. You don’t have to wonder if you really should spend time writing. It’s obvious. You need to write. Not just once in a while. As often as you can.
Writing then becomes your highest priority. There’s nothing more important.
How do you make this decision? It helps if you love books, films, plays, or poems. It helps if you’ve always dreamt of becoming a writer. It helps if you’ve done some writing and people seem to agree you have talent.
Most importantly, it helps if you want to write, if you have some ideas you’d like to get across, if you don’t hate the process, if you’re driven to be creative, and really, really want to see a finished work of art that’s your own; that you’ve crafted by yourself or with a partner.
2. Woody Allen said, “80 percent of success is showing up.”
It might help to think of writing in simple terms. Show up at the typewriter (yellow pad, laptop or whatever). Do it every day. Pick a time that works. Try to write 3 pages a day.
The important principle here is to sit down and start. This generally prompts you to clear your head, organize your ideas, and start writing.
That simple idea will help you to keep writing at a solid, continuous pace, until your screenplay is finished.
Notice, we’re talking about small, manageable goals (3 pages). It’s not overwhelming. Motivating yourself to write manageable small portions per day is a great way to stay motivated in writing a screenplay or novel.
When you’ve written your 2-3 pages per day, reward yourself with a treat; watch a film on Netflix, go for a walk on the beach, get a pastrami sandwich, surf the net, or whatever works for you.
3. Focus your motivation by clearing out “unfinished business.”
The basic tenant of the Ziegarnik Effect is that; once we’ve started working toward various goals, it’s hard to start something new because the mind stays focused on the previous goals, which still remain unfinished.
To fix this, make a list of all your current goals, then try to get to all your “incompletes.” If some of those goals aren’t important anymore, cross them off the list now.
Then try to finish all the other goals. If you have too many huge goals, like disproving Quantum Theory, you might want to rethink them. If you really want to write, writing should come first.
When you finish up the “unfinished business,” those incomplete tasks won’t eat away at you anymore. Come to terms with letting go of some big goals (like get that PhD).
The more you can clear off your plate, the more you’ll be able to focus on your number one goal, to write and sell a screenplay. Your motivation won’t get muddled by ever little thing.
For more help getting motivated to write your screenplay, click HERE, or call David at 310-850-4707 for FREE writing advice.