Earlier this month, I hosted a networking event for screenwriters from the Bay Area and throughout northern California. It was fun and I got to make some new connections as well as reconnect with some already-established ones.
(Can’t recommend this sort of thing enough. Getting to know other writers in your area helps all involved.)
Part of the event involved introducing ourselves and offering up a little background info, including our individual screenwriting- or film-based experience (there were a few writer-directors) and a thumbnail description of our current works-in-progress.
When it was my turn, I mentioned the blog and how I was dividing my time between a few rewrites. At that point, one of the attendees raised his hand.
“A few rewrites? Like, all at the same time?”
I clarified that I’d work on one script for a few days, or at least until I thought I made some significant progress, take a day off, then dive into another one.
“But don’t you find it kind of difficult to stay focused?” He also added that he was relatively new to screenwriting, so the concept of working on a script and then suddenly shifting gears into one that’s totally different was a little mind-blowing.
I explained it this way:
I’ve been doing this a while, and all of these scripts are at least third, fourth, or higher drafts. I’ve gotten to know the stories and characters for each one pretty well, so I can jump right in, fully aware of what each rewrite requires. It might take a while (along with several more rewrites) to finally get there, but I’ve found that always working on something has really helped make the whole process easier.
It really is like exercising. It’s kind of tough and challenging when you’re starting out, and takes time to learn how to do it properly. Then you figure out a pace and/or system that works best for you (with everybody having their own methods and routine). You will indeed discover that the more you do it, the easier it gets.
I try to write every day, even if I only have 30 minutes to spare. You might think such a short amount of time isn’t worth the effort, but I’d disagree. Better to spend a little time writing than no time at all. Friend-of-the-blog Pilar Alessandra even wrote a book to help you do just that. (totally unsolicited plug. It came to mind while I was writing this.)
If you go into a writing session with an idea of what you want to accomplish, it’s a great use of your time. And if you sit down, not entirely sure what to do, you’re still giving yourself the opportunity to focus, which is always good.
That’s really what it all comes down to: Want to be a better writer? Find the time to write.
And reading helps a bit too.