I’ve gotten a few e-mails over the past two to three months that go something like this…
Hey, I found your blog by [whatever reason] and it’s kinda cool. I’ve always wanted to write a screenplay but don’t think I can. My idea is [fleshed out in various lengths]. What do you think? Can I write that?
My answer is always YES! Of course you can write it. I never tell them whether or not it’s a good idea, because that’s beside the point. I’m not a judge of their story. I’m just here to tell them it is possible for them to write a screenplay, and if they put the effort into it they will write one.
Sometimes I take for granted just how hard it is to write that first script. Now that I’ve got almost ten screenplays behind me I’ve forgotten how intimidated I was by the blank screen. The cursor blinking, staring at you, reminding you that you’re not writing each time is flashes. And all of this is even before you think about whether or not your screenplay is going to be any “good.”
First, forget “good.” What is “good” anyway? Don’t worry about “good.” Leave “good” for later. As a matter of fact, fuck “good.” Worry about “good” later.
Second, don’t worry how long it takes you. So what if you have to stop for a week? So what if you get 30 pages in and stop over? So what if you don’t feel like any one will like it? None of these things matter. You’re not getting paid. Nothing is on the line. You’re writing for yourself, so that’s all you should care about.
Third, consistency is the key. If you stop, start again. If you can only write for one hour a week, then only write for one hour a week. If you need to take a few days off, take a few days off and then come back. Again, you are doing this for you, no one else. So do it on your terms.
Fourth, if you never type FADE OUT, you’ll never understand how big of a rush you are missing out on. I’m being serious here, sitting and looking at something you’ve actually created is just a fantastic experience. It connects you to the all of the story tellers that have existed on our planet throughout time. Be it a native American shaman talking about the wars of the Gods, or your Great Uncle explaining how they took the bridge in WWII, you are in those ranks and now part of that club. It’s as much about the experience as it is the screenplay. You will have created something. An entire world. You’ll have created people, or animals, that populate that world. And you will have given them an experience that will have changed their lives. In a funny sort of a way, you will have become a God. But most importantly, it will make you want to do it all over again.
You CAN write that first screenplay. You CAN find the tools for free. And you CAN figure out the story on your own. I’m here to help. The internet is here to help. You can do it. And if you like it enough, and hone your talents, maybe one day we can all watch your film in the theater and know that somewhere, somehow, we might have had a little something to do with making that happen.
Until next time, keep writing!