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

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Writing strategies for 2013


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What is the point of putting down your strategies for the year after 7 months have gone by?

-First of all, it was a conscious decision to delay this post. In the beginning of the year, I was in the middle of a relocation and change in job. So any planning without any idea about the new environment was not going to be useful. Second, I realise now that this post on strategies in the beginning of every year has been really helping me to set my priorities. Making a complete ass of yourself by declaring your goals in public definitely helps.

Now that I have eased into my current job and location, I realise that certain things have changed. Certain advantages have been irretrievably lost. The most precious one is the stability of routine. It is difficult to say before hand how many hours I would be free to write on a particular day. Writing in the weekdays is now a little bit more difficult. At the same time,  now weekend means two free days compared to one last year. The load of academic work has decreased. But being with family brings in its own set of distractions. So overall I feel the amount of time available for writing would be the same. But, the instability of routine prevents me from pursuing daily targets. So I have decided to shift to weekly targets.

The next one year is going to be very crucial in terms of meetings. My biggest weakness is that my writing occurs in a vacuum mostly divorced from external environment except for 2-3 writer friends/co-writers. I need to see where I stand and how others in film field respond to my ideas. I have realised that cultivating relationships is more important than going ‘hit and miss’ with celebrity film makers. Also I have decided to concentrate on my pitching and narration skills.

As it often crops up in my yearly assessments, my problem is not most often not working, but working too much on too little. I need to put up completed work. Despite all the writing, the amount of time I have put into writing does not reflect in the number of completed works. Instead I have half boiled treatments and concepts stuck in mid birth. So I need to improve my time management skills in writing.

I am glad that in the last few months, I have made giant strides in this aspect. I realise now that after a point, the amount of time put into outlining or treatment does not correlate with the quality of the script. Instead, more time need to be put into rewriting after the first draft of the script. You realise what you are trying to write after the first draft. So, I have decided to keep a tabs of sort regarding how much time I am spending for various stages of development on a particular script. Also I need to see how much the reality tally with my initial assessment regarding the time it is going to take.

So the targets are going are going to be-

-18 hours of writing every week. Every day, minimum of one hour of writing needs to be completed. A tally of what kind of work is being done is to be maintained.

-6 hours to be spent on networking activities per week.

-An actual meeting has to take place at least every month.

Photo by martin.trolle

Run…

Things have not gone according to plan last month. Needs more discipline with the writing. The reason is- the time is almost up to really go out into the world. Until now, even though I have been networking through social media, it was more about making myself familiar to others. Within a few months, tenure of my current job position will end. Then comes the opportunity that I have been waiting for all these years- to go and meet film makers.  When I do that, I want to be able to offer a variety of stuff if they want to see my work. So need to step up my act. And punch out some treatments and scripts.

Photo by ADIDA FALLEN ANGEL

The finishing line

Finally I finished that script. In bits and pieces. Over one year. Never again will I write a script this way.

Now I have to sit on it for 2 weeks. Then I will give it out to friends for feedback. Oh, before that… I have to take away 40 pages. Why are you staring at me? Even Aaron Sorkin writes 160 page first drafts, you see.

Photo by Purrrpl_Haze 

My script writing strategies for 2012: first update

First of all, I was supposed to do an update every month as per the initial resolutions. But this is coming after 2-3 months. Because after some time I felt that too many updates may make less sense as there is more data to go through.

Total number of days- 96

Number of days where I completed 2.5 hrs of writing- 42

number of days where I didn’t write anything- 35

Number of days where I wrote for more than 3 hrs- 4

Number of networking mails/calls/sms supposed to be sent- 25

Number of networking mails/calls/sms sent- 15

Number of targets set- 10

Number of targets completed within stipulated time- 4

The alarming number among these is the number of days where I didn’t write anything. Well, there has been some unexpected developments at work and home because of which those days happened. But if I had really put my mind into it, I could have written at least one hour on those days.

Networking may appear to have fallen short of the target, but actually there was some initial procrastination and ‘finding my way to do it’ involved. Now things are on track. Target setting is doing fine. Believe me, I was even worse than this. Now I have a 40% success rate.

The new idea I have come up with for the last 3 months is learning the art of narration of a story. I should sit in front of the mirror and practice. May be I should videotape my own narrations (which  then would be safeguarded in the strongest lockers known to mankind for avoiding unwanted embarrassments). Let us see.

Photo by Lawrence Whittemore

Why you should follow your dream…

That creepy common sense. You know, the odds and figures… The actual probability of making it after taking this lonely road that you so desperately want to follow… The fear of being embarrassed by your own stupidity when you look back after many years…

Here is why you should still follow that dream abandoning the shade of a boring but secure choice- even if the odds of making it is one in lakhs… Top five regrets of the dying-

My scriptwriting strategies for 2012

It is a little late to write down a list of resolutions for 2012, I know. But this has been the way the year started for me. I was on vacation for first two weeks which was followed by a hectic apartment shift and some heavy duty academic stuff by the side. I still have not picked up all the pieces. But I am on my way.

So why bother with this post? Let me tell me, putting down in public my strategies and commitments for the year and updating about them from time to time (1,2,3,4) has been one of the smartest things that I did last year. There was a steep climb in my writing curve. Also it gave a certain direction for the whole year.

To summarise last year in writing:

The plan-

I realised that rather than spending too much time on networking, I should concentrate on building up a body of work. What is the point of talking with a stakeholder if you really have nothing worthwhile to offer him?

Output-

I increased my productivity by putting consistent checks on the net and pretty much everything else. My page count doubled compared to previous year.

My short film thriller script ‘The search’ was bought by a filmmaker friend in Canada and we developed it further together. His previous short film has been to Cannes. Hopefully ‘The search’ is going to get made this year.

Co-written adaptation of a Malayalam film for a Bollywood director who already has 2-3 credits is getting some eyeballs. Another co-written thriller script which we had set up as an indie project has covered some ground after around one year.

Failures-

Restrictions on the net and the lack of mobility due to my current work cut down my networking dramatically. Continue reading