Screenwriting is starts by writing a crappy first draft. And the real writing begins in the rewrite. This is because nobody writes a perfect first draft. This is good news if you’re willing to do the necessary work to rework your story.
Unfortunately most new screenwriters send out material before is is ready. And doing this can not only stall the project, it can potentially hurt your reputation as a writer. I’m speaking from experience..
Fear Of The Blank Page
If you’re like most writer-directors, you are full of ideas. I have met hundreds of filmmakers who have more ideas for movie projects than they know what to do with. But to date, only a handful of these hopefuls have put these ideas to paper and completed a screenplay.
An idea is only an idea… Until it is tangible. Completing a fully finished screenplay is the first step towards making your vision a reality. Even a crappy first draft is better than having nothing at all.
As a feature filmmaker, self-assessment is crucial. Be honest with yourself… Do you have a screenplay written? Is it completed? If you were given the opportunity to have your material read by an established Hollywood producer, would you be ready to go? Or would you keep them waiting?
Write A Crappy First Draft
I worked for a producer in New York City. It was my job to read, evaluate and write coverage on screenplays in hopes of finding a gem. In one year, I read hundreds and hundreds of scripts. Unfortunately, I only found a couple potential gems and most everything else ended up in the recycle bin.
It’s a Hollywood cliché that everyone has a screenplay. From my experience, most people usually don’t. Most people only have the first five pages of a script. Unfortunately, these people will never finish a crappy first draft, even if they have a spark of talent. To separate yourself from this poser majority, I want you to make your someday, today.
It’s not overly difficult to write a crappy first draft. If you think about it, it’s just a matter of sitting down in front of a keyboard and typing. Since most indie screenplays are around 90 pages, if you only wrote one page per day, you could have a first draft in as little as 90 days!
Your First Draft Will Suck
If you are nervous or intimidated about writing your first screenplay, join the club. One of the biggest challenges filmmakers face in writing their first draft is an unrealistic standard.
You want your script to be perfect. But it never will be. That’s why it is so easy to procrastinate. And this is why your first goal should always be: Write a crappy first draft.
Honestly? Your first draft is going suck. But this is your starting point. A first draft becomes a second draft. And a second draft becomes a third. Before you know it, you will have created an awesome script that you’re happy to share with industry friends. And if you do it right, you’ll eventually look back on your crappy first draft and laugh at how terrible it was.
Discipline Yourself to Write
And as you probably know, disciplining yourself to write is the hardest part. For me and most my friends, the actual act of writing takes the most effort. And if you ever sat down to write you know what I’m talking about. As I put these words to paper, it is almost noon. I had planned to start writing way earlier, but ended up putting the dishes away because it was easier.
Sometimes the hardest part of screenwriting is giving yourself permission to write a crappy first draft. And if you need some help in this arena, check out this resource on how to write script treatments that sell.