As a screenwriting coach, I tell my clients their number one goal is to finish your screenplay. Writing the same project can go on for months, and even years. When this process takes years, how do you stay interested and motivated enough to keep writing?
Get your brain firing dopamine, before and while you’re writing. For example, now I have the Rolling Stones, “Tumbling Dice,” cranked up loud.
The dopamine is flowing around inside my head, and writing this blog is now easier, because it feels fun, and it’s associated with dopamine, which connects to all the good times I’ve experienced throughout my life.
Similarly, the caffeine in coffee is biologically pushing me towards action vs. inaction.
Usually, once you get started writing inertia takes over and will carry you even further.
I’ve written hundreds of scripts drinking coffee, and listening to loud music. You may prefer another type of music, but listening to loud rock gets my adrenaline going.
Talk to Stephen King; he did pretty much the same thing writing his first four novels (all of them successful) except, using cocaine and beer to reward himself. Of course, I don’t recommend this of course, for obvious reasons (it’s expensive), but look at Aaron Sorkin, another cocaine user.
He wrote many of his plays and screenplays under the influence. And he has a Pulitzer Prize for A Few Good Men, and an Academy Award for The Social Network.
5. Try to frighten yourself into writing.
Through prioritization, you will also have to think about which goals will cost you the most, financially, emotionally, or socially, if they aren’t completed.
This method can help you weed out the goals that aren’t going to affect you that much. What disaster will happen if you don’t complete certain goals?
If you’re a writer, (and its part of your identity) and you stop writing, you’re going to be emotionally wrecked. Your life will lack purpose.
If your social life revolves around writing, mounting plays, or reading poetry for example, you’re going to feel isolated, and craving companionship.
And if you’re lucky enough to get paid to write, think about being evicted and living on the streets if you don’t write.
If you want to avoid years of therapy, and writing is your calling, then write. Even if it’s just 3 pages a day.
6. Figure out how you get into flow.
Every writer understands what flow is, and how valuable it is to productivity. Flow for me generally happens late at night, when I know I don’t have to get up the next day.
Rituals associated with flow are different for everybody. I already mentioned I like loud rock music and a cup of coffee. Or a beer with a movie playing with the sound low.
Amping yourself up or relaxing interestingly, can both lead to flow.Another big factor in flow is being able to clear your mind. Centering methods can help with this part.
This is the part where relaxation can help. It helps to be able to self-regulate emotions.If you’re stressed, calm down. This is easy to say, but you’d be surprised how many people can’t do it.
This explains why so many writers use drugs or alcohol. They can’t meditate or do yoga breathing.
If you have a relaxation ritual (which could involve yoga breathing, mindfulness meditation, clearing your mind of random thoughts, physical relaxation, music, lighting, or whatever works) – it can all help you center and focus.
One of my relaxation rituals is a visualization exercise. I imagine that “my hands and feet are slowly getting warm and heavy.” I visualize the blood in my body flows out to my fingers and down to my toes.
When you’re stressed, you muscles tense up all over, blood goes to those areas. Your fingers and toes get colder, with less blood flowing out to them.
This exercise forces blood to your extremities, your fingers and toes feel warm and heavy. You feel relaxed.
Another way to get into flow is to do self-hypnosis. You use one of the above-listed relaxation methods, and count backward from 100, picturing yourself walking down 100 steps, sinking into a state of hypnosis.
Besides relaxing and centering, another flow trick; prepare to write a manageable amount of writing, that’s not too challenging that it’ll stop your progress and demoralize you.
Set up achievable tasks, so you can kind of “power’ through the scenes. Don’t sweat the small stuff during flow. Just keep writing.
Don’t be self-critical during the flow period, just let creativity happen. Criticism comes later, during a rewrite.
For more help getting motivated to write your screenplay, click HERE, or call David at 310-850-4707 for FREE writing advice.