Number One Stunner
I wrote my first screenplay. I'll say it again. I wrote my first screenplay, and even though I've never written one before, I did it just like that, and this is how I did it. I started it on sept. 23 or 24 after I saw a status update asking what are you writing this weekend? It sat with me on football sunday that I wasn't writing anything and really hadn't been writing since I chose to become a writer as a New Years resolution at the start of 2013. I've read over 60 screenplays this year and felt I had had enough. And the reason I didn't write was simply because I didn't know how. And probably still don't, but it may be not realizing what I actually do know that has cradled me away from getting the start on my screenplay. I needed to find a solution to this way of thinking. I wasn't trusting in the process. I didn't have one and as much as I felt I was the next Tarantino in my head, reaching that pinnacle wasn't going to show up on the page if I didn't sit down and do something. So I chatted an idea up with myself and got on the damn thang. 2 pages the first day, 1 the next, and after a few days off, I started to bang out 9 and 10 page days with the sole objective to finish this screenplay. When I got to about half way, I started to crunch the numbers and figured I'd be done by Halloween at the latest. My point is this can be done. I have always struggled to come up with something to stick with; I know I don't have writer's block, so just forcing myself to get a page or 15 minutes, as I call it, set that right. I don't plan on rewriting this screenplay immediately, but now I can see things in a different light when I go to read other screenplays. It's just about one thing happening after another, and I didn't fully realize that until I told myself I was going to finish this thing on my own. So earlier I said I took some days off after writing 3 pages. Getting into a pattern of writing was the first hurdle I encountered. I questioned if this idea would hold up for 100 pages. I wasn't writing with an outline and felt I had a better shot at finishing if I figured it out on the way, just from the perspective of having total creative control at any point. In screenwriting books, it says to have things happen at certain points, and when I read scripts things doesn't always align themselves that way. I see act marks, especially the first one, but then things get a little convuluted. So for my first script I wasn't going to try to cram things to fit some mold. I approached it like a novel, basically saying this story will not end. One big thing I forgot to mention was I intended to write this long hand, which is the hardest to make edits to. This script would not be good from the start, so why go in with the intention of writing something that needed to be edited? The answer is I had to tell myself, on my worst day, I'm still as good as everybody else, and I was writing something that could be molded in the end, even if I knew that wasn't going to happen. So those 3 pages were 5 pages of loose leaf, and when I returned to writing after a 2 day break, I knocked out a page and a half on loose leaf, then thought about typing it up; in this case I would have at least something to read on my iPad; then I got into a cycle of writing on loose leaf and typing it up; a page and a half to 2 pages paper turned into 1 page iPad; I used the iPad because I don't use the computer that much; it'll be put to use more on the next screenplay; I continued this process for 18 loose leaf pages and committed totally to the iPad because at this point I was just tired of writing then typing; and this is how I luckily broke through the problem that plagued me of always being stuck on the first couple pages. After the 18 loose leaf pages, I had a solid 12 or 13 pages together. I've gotten to this point before, but this was the screenplay I was going to finish, and it's something I just HAD TO tell myself...When week two started, that's when things really kicked into gear for me. On Tuesday, I started doing a page on the hour and then when the next hour came up another page. Then two pages, and then another page. I felt like I needed to get greedy and pulled in 4 more pages by 2 o'clock. I had 9 pages in the day and felt like having some time to feel like a real writer for once. But that's when my brain had a fit and couldn't think straight. I was stuck in writing mode. I had a giant headache, but felt rewarded enough that I just wasn't reading scripts. And this really was unavoidable. That has happened to me for other things that use the brain to accomplish too, like learning a language. I learned basic spanish, the grammar, our irregular verbs into their normal verbs, and the pronunciation, in my procrastination to write a script. Worth it though. For the next two days I hit 10 pages again and started to cruise at 5 pages a day until I got to page 52. It goes without saying that it's much easier to hit 5 pages. And this can be done in only an hour and a half, the time it takes to read a script or watch three episodes of South Park or American Dad. I returned to writing long hand on some days and typing on the iPad on others. A word about writing screenplays in a loose leaf notebook. When I add dialog, I center it and write to the red line and I'm liberal with when I end after the red line. It lines up with the iPad and sometimes I get more. When I make a mistake, I cross it out and never think about it again. This is just a habit that I find works. Now enough can't be said about being able to write a screenplay. I am equipping myself with skills that I can use to escape the outside world. If I get tired of hearing what the media has to say, I can write a podcast and add my own opinions if I want to. All because writing a lot of pages has validated me. Although I'm not gaining knowledge while writing screenplays, I'm gaining perspective and what more is a sign of wisdom. Let me reiterate something I said earlier. Writing a screenplay is just things happening one after the other, like blocks being stacked on each other. That's the same as everything else. In my hours not writing, I like to challenge my memory by recalling commercials in order, but it doesn't feel stupid because it's like a screenplay; just one event after the next, although I'm sure I can find a better use of my time using the same percept, perhaps remembering names. At around page 60 on day 13 I started to get bored. Writing just came more easily and writing 5 pages a day didn't have the same effect as it did the previous days. I was officially over the hurdle, and because I'm in my first year, it's a great accomplishment. I found writing to be literally like adding a rubberband to a rubberband ball. I think Dickens called it like writing a biography. Things just building on each other. Anyway then I really just got into the habit of trying to write 10 pages a day. And that's scary because it took me ten months to figure out I should do this just to get one under my belt. I started with exposition, so it would make things more promising. Now screenplays aren't like non-fiction writing. It comes out more quickly. Non-Fiction writing feels like I have said something important whereas with fiction I realized I'm just another writer who tries to tack page together. I didn't worry about quality on my first one otherwise I wouldn't have finished. I just hooked into the assignment. For the last four days I did 10 pages a day. I wasn't trying to get one page in a sitting anymore, but two. That didn't work some of the time because I hadn't figured out what would be on the page and if I did go ahead and write it, I wasn't sure if I was writing the best thing I could. But overall things got really easy as I got further because I no longer had to write 70, 80, or 90 more pages, it was in the 20's and teens. But don't get me wrong it was still brutal keeping this pace. The hardest part on my mind was definately the beginning, but at the end I could no longer say don't end it, and patience had to come into the picture. To make things easier on myself, I wrote a paragraph or 2 of what I was going to write for the day, figuring out the events and stretched it as best I could. I finished on Oct. 9 after about 25 hours of total writing and accomplished my goal to write a 100 page document. I don't know what I'm going to write about next, but now I see the value in having an outline, so I learned something from the experience!