Editor’s Note: Jeff Leisawitz is the author of Not F*ing Around, a book about jump-starting your creative life which we had the opportunity to review. The book is a quick, uplifting, and fun manifesto on reaching your creative goals, and we heartily recommend it. You can read the first three chapters or buy a copy here.
Writing screenplays is hard work. I know. I’ve written a bunch. Not only do you have to know story structure, dialogue, formatting, tone, pace, and about a hundred other things, you actually have to sit there and do it. Sometimes this is the hardest part.
As a professional writer, award winning musician, internationally distributed filmmaker and life coach, I’ve been bashing my head against the wall for decades. In an effort to empower creatives of all kinds on how to bang their heads against fewer walls, I wrote a book called Not F*ing Around— The No Bullsh*t Guide for Getting Your Creative Dreams Off the Ground. Here are few tips, tweaked for my screenwriting pals.
Start Before You’re Ready
Years ago, when I started working as a songwriting teacher at a local college, I was shaking in my shoes. I prepared the best I could. But at the end of the day I just had to step into the studio with the students and give it my best shot.
Here’s the point. You can read screenwriting books, magazines, and blogs all day long. You can go to workshops, take classes. But if you still haven’t knocked out a bunch of loglines, outlines, and a ton of pages, it’s time to start. Now.
Sure, it might be a total disaster. But so what? As I tell my freaked out freshmen, your first song is supposed to suck. Write more. They will get better. That’s how it works. Same goes with screenplays. Just pay attention. Get some qualified feedback. And learn from your mistakes.
Time Travel with Your Future Self
Here’s a secret. A vast majority of very successful people use mediation and/or visualization to help them move closer to their dreams. You may call it woo-woo. But it works.
Grab your pen or fire up the laptop. Take a few minutes to breathe deeply. Imagine what you want in your future as it relates to screenwriting (or anything else). Picture yourself finishing your project. Or sitting in a room with a hot shot producer. Or attending the premiere of your awesome movie.
Breathe deep and feel into the experience. Notice what it took to get you there. Notice who is around you. Notice the way you feel in these moments. Breathe this all in deeply. When you’re ready, open your eyes and write it out. Feel it again. Write it and remember it. You just tapped into your subconscious to access some big information and wisdom.
Say ‘Yes, and_______.”
A few years ago I took an improv comedy class. One of the main tenets of this world is to say “Yes, and ______.” That means that you have to accept the situation that the other actor drops in your lap. Then add something to it.
It’s a very simple yet profound idea. It also works quite well in life.
Be open to opportunities in the screenwriting world. In fact, seek them out on job boards, meetups, community film groups. Maybe your sister-in-law just got a new camera and wants a three page script about twinkie-loving truckers for her next YouTube video. Step up and write it.
Perhaps you met some over-caffeinated Millennial at your local coffee shop who wants to hang around and write forty plot ideas every Sunday afternoon. Buy the guy some decaf and tag team.
Always take opportunities for creative growth. Chances are good that you’ll grow creatively.
These are just a few very brief ideas on how to crank up the NFA and make your screenwriting dreams come true. For more wisdom, tips, and tools, click on over to http://jeffleisawitz.com/giveaway-spring-into-action/ to enter yourself a chance to win four hours of online creativity coaching ($1000 value!). You’ll also get free chapters of my book, Not F*ing Around— The No Bullsh*t Guide for Getting Your Creative Dreams Off the Ground.
What does your future self have to say?
What have you started before you’re ready?
What do you generally say yes to, screenwriting-wise? What do you say no to?
Jeff Leisawitz burns with a mission—to inspire screenwriters, artists, musicians, filmmakers, entrepreneurs (and everyone else) to amp up their creativity, heal their hearts and shine in the world. Visit his site for a chance to download the first three chapters of his book, Not F*ing Around— The No Bullsh*t Guide for Getting Your Creative Dreams Off the Ground and enter a $1,000 giveaway for a chance to win creative coaching with Jeff to get your next project rocket fueled.