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August 8, 2013

Faith in Creative Community Restored: Encouraging Words from Screenwriters to Screenwriters

typewriterWhen I first decided that, yes, I wanted to write scripts, I asked myself, "What do I need to become a screenwriter?" Of course, the answers to that were many: read Aristotle's Poetics, Fields, McKee, Snyder, get screenwriting software, watch movies, make connections, write. Over the years, the list has grown to include several other things -- namely encouragement. In an industry such as ours, with its fierce competition and narrow path, it's easy to become disheartened and lose confidence in your ability to achieve your goals. But over at Go Into The Story, readers took the time to write words of encouragement and give advice to first time screenwriters, which were recently compiled and put online. If you're need a kind word, a little inspiration, or a restoration in humanity, hit the jump.

Encouragement is one of those things you don't know you need until you're ready to throw your screenplay out of the window and settle for a desk job. Until I had a moment like that, I always figured that I could sit in my office for months alone, typing away, remaining inside my own head thinking, "I'm super tough -- I can do this alone."

But, I don't care how tough you are -- your hand is a bit swifter, your imagination a bit wilder, your heart a bit more open when you've got a community coming alongside you, rooting for you, making you sandwiches when you're frustrated.

The folks at Go Into The Story offered free tickets to an LA screenwriting event, "Craft Your Future: Surviving and Thriving as a Screenwriter," to readers with this prompt:

In comments, write words of encouragement to someone you don’t know about to embark on writing their first complete screenplay. No more than 100 words.

The response was remarkable -- so remarkable in fact that GITS decided to post all of the responses online for first time (or veteran) screenwriters to peruse in case they were in need of some encouragement. Here are some that I found excellent.

I want you to think of three of your favorite writers. Doesn’t matter if they’re alive, dead, or fictional.
As you begin your writing quest, picture these three writing giants standing behind you. Picture them as they encourage, push, and guide you along the way. They’re not going to take your crap excuse for why you can’t write that day. They won’t accept any weak character development, frivolous plot points, or your blatant overuse of camera direction. But best of all, they know you can do it.

Now go make your fellow giants proud.

-- --

Write your screenplay.

Not because it is your dream.
Not because it will make you rich, famous, or powerful.
Not because there is a lack of (fill in the blank) genre stories.

Write your screenplay because you are YOU.
Write your screenplay because of what YOU bring to the table.
Write your screenplay because ONLY YOU can write it.

Everyone has a story only they can write and it would be a crime against humanity for you not to.

Write your screenplay.

-- --

INT. STUDIO APT – DAY/NIGHT

A SCREENWRITER stares into his laptop screen. Strewn about the room are reference books and empty coffee cups. He turns away from the computer and starts to leaf through one of the books. A VOICE emits from the screen, startling our writer.

VOICE
Inside or outside?

WRITER
Huh? Uhh, outside?

VOICE
Then cap it EXT and start.

The writer starts tapping away and soon is lost in the moment.

I know that these responses originally were written to win free tickets, but it's still truly refreshing to see such positivity and camaraderie amongst filmmakers -- it reminded me of that Kevin Smith quote:

Remember: It costs nothing to encourage an artist, and the potential benefits are staggering. A pat on the back to an artist now could one day result in your favorite film, or the cartoon you love to get stoned watching, or the song that saves your life. Discourage an artist, you get absolutely nothing in return, ever.

Check out the rest of these inspirational encouragements here. While you do that, I'm going to go say something nice to one of my artist buddies and then get my fingertips a-tappin' on my screenplay.

What do you think? As a screenwriter, how do you get through disappointments and self-doubt? Let us know below.

Link: Words of inspiration to first-time writers -- Go Into The Story

[Typewriter photo by Flickr user phooky]

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8 Comments

INT. STUDIO APT – DAY/NIGHT

A SCREENWRITER stares into his laptop screen. Strewn about the room are reference books and empty coffee cups. He turns away from the computer and starts to leaf through one of the books. --
.
I discourage other writers from using cliches like the above. Besides, the "reference books" have long been replaced by the Wikipedia and coffee by the energy drinks.

August 8, 2013

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DLD

Come on, dude. Chillax. It's better to start with a cliche then never to start writing because you're looking for perfection in your first draft (big mistake), which was this guy's point to begin with. And coffee still is, and always will be, king. Unless you're a tea drinker. I'm willing to make an exception for tea. The revolution was quite some time ago. I've forgiven our British brethren. Just don't call us "the colonies" and we'll be fine. And don't drink energy drinks. They're unhealthy. I'm stressed. I'm going to have a cigarette.

August 8, 2013

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Eric

INT. MUM'S BASEMENT – DEFINITELY NIGHT-TIME

A SCREENWRITER (who looks exactly like me) stares into his laptop screen. Strewn about the sweaty room are syringes, vitamin pills, porn mags and lots of tissues. He turns away from the computer and starts to leaf through one of the mags, when a VOICE emits from the screen, startling our writer.

VOICE
WTF are you doing spending all your free time browsing nofilmschool when you should be piecing together that screenplay instead ?

WRITER
Huh? You're right, I'll get down to it right away.

The writer starts tapping away and soon is lost in the moment.
(Only kidding everyone. Good writing !)

August 8, 2013

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Saied

@DLD - You've completely missed the point of the post. There's a time for criticism and that is AFTER the screenplay is finished in first draft form. Writing a screenplay is hard. Writing a good screenplay is even harder.

The point of this post and the original exercise on G.I.T.S. was to promote encouragement and support for those intimidated or stuck before they have barely started a screenplay. You might want to save some of your cynicism for middle age. :)

August 8, 2013

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Neil

I have a blog for screenwriters and other creatives and I coincidentally posted something very much in line with this writer's point of view. Encouragement and community are vital to artists.

You can read my post here if you want http://thetinyprotagonist.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/you-can-do-it-will-yo...

August 8, 2013

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Ah, geeez, guys ... it was just a leeeeeetle joke. (also, from the psychological profile, the discarded coffee cups, piled up pizza boxes, emptied 9 mm shells, used/up copies of Juggs, etc. would present a right brain writer. A left brain writer would be sitting at his immaculate high gloss table and inspecting the dead pixels on his curved OLED monitor with a magnifying glass ... OK, a left brain writer with an OCD ... and an inheritance ... so there)

August 8, 2013

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DLD

For me my biggest inspiration for writing screenplays is Quentin Tarantino. Yes we have completely different styles. But I have always start writing my screenplays with pen and paper. Yes it's more work because later I need to type up the final draft. But it's much more organic and natural. It's just the author and his pens and paper...

http://youtu.be/I5NI7kN7P3o.

August 8, 2013

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Aaron

Disappointment and self doubt? What's that?

Bahaha!

I recall Rodriguez saying that each person has X number of awful ideas in them before they hit the good stuff. The trick is to get those X number of ideas out of the way as soon as possible. Self doubt is a survival mechanism that is essential; embrace it.

As for myself I do 2 things whenever I feel doubt or disappointment (this goes for writing, directing and filmmaking general): I watch/read a Hollywood production that I know isn't that good. That usually makes me feel like 'shit, my script can be made in Hollywood and probably fair better than this dreck!' Second I do the opposite and watch/read a no-budget/indie film that's very good and feel like, "Damn. If they can do it so can I. Perhaps even better!"

Let me reassure fellow NFS members: after working in a casting studio and production company you're afforded an excellent chance to read a ton of scripts. The majority of which make you think, "WOW. I can do better." And you probably can. Seriously (it's a tad depressing actually). And the small minority are so amazing that they inspire you to get back to your woodshed and start chipping away on your own craft.

August 8, 2013

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Brock