Script writing strategies for 2014

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So how was my last writing year?

Less regular writing. But more output. Strange, isn’t it?

Less internet. Got a bit distant from my friends. I should blame it on my insistence to finish my writing first.

More outlining and brainstorming. Less writing screenplays. Good or bad? Not very sure.

Less co-writing projects. More solo adventures. Less speed. Less protection.

To be honest, it does surprise me that I am still here after 7 years. I am still doing this. I have a day job. I have a family. And still I am hanging in here with the skin of my teeth. I realise that I should be an obstinate bloke to be writing even now.

I would not have continued writing if not for the tidbits of validation I had from different quarters. Thank God for those.

So what changed this year?

The single most important change is that I focused more on outlining rather than on writing full scripts.

It has worked at least on an experiential level. I feel that I have got more work done last one year than most other years. By forcing myself to disengage from a project and focus on something else after a reasonable amount of time, I have improved my time efficiency. Most importantly, by postponing the ‘rush’ into the first draft, the ideas change and gets more mature.

Time will tell how much I am losing out by not writing full scripts. I don’t inherently like this method. But this came out of sheer compulsion from the ‘ticking clock.’

The setbacks?

Networking. What really suffered last one year is not writing. But time spent on finding like minded people and cultivating relationships.

The scarcity of actual meetings. But that was intentional. Because it occurred to me that I am not yet ready. Be that spider. Make sure your web is strong enough. And wide enough.

So what are the plans for 2014?

At least 15 hours of writing every week.

To keep time on writing targets and to monitor my own ability to set ‘reasonable’ targets.

To be ready for meetings by April.

To start meetings in May- at least one every month.

To spent at least 7 hours every week on networking.

At least a blog post per week. Even if it is two lines.

To plan reasonable incentives/punishments for meeting/failing my targets.

Photo by deiz92

Deadlines and scriptwriting

scissors by danielgrenell
photo by danielgrenell

The question is- should one really self impose deadlines in creative writing? Can it harm the quality of the writing?

Often great ideas come when you are least expecting it. If you are mechanical about the various stages (‘After 10 hours of outlining, I am just going to write it’), you may often miss on some great breakthroughs. Writing in itself is a process that cannot be fitted into boxes and flowcharts. Often the associations you make are bizarre and counterintuitive.

But the issue that adds counterweight is the problem of productivity. Writing is not the kind of job where at the end of the day, you can count the number of words and decide whether you have worked well or not. And when it is compounded by writers’ eternal problem of procrastination, it becomes very difficult not to fool yourself. I can just daydream for months lying on the sofa and pretend to myself that ‘I am outlining.’ And if that ‘brilliant idea that burst out of nowhere’ is the criteria of good work, it may also turn out to be damp squib the next day.

So is it a good idea to restrict the time you use for outlining or writing a treatment? Probably not. But what if your outlining goes on for months? How do you know for sure that just because you have spent 2 months for developing something, it is going to be better than spending 2 weeks on initial development and then taking more time on rewriting?

Advantage of spending more time on outlining is that you save a lot of time while actually writing the script. Also most of my unfinished scripts happened because I didn’t outline. On the flip side, often you realise what you really want with the story after you write a complete draft. If you have spent too much time on outlining initially, you lose some of the mental flexibility to revamp the theme and plot of your first draft if it is required. Anyway I have decided to try out the second option- jump into the first drafts after a fixed amount of time in outlining. I need to try all methods to see which one really works.