When a reader gets a script from the spec pile, they usually don’t have a clue who the writer is, or where the writer comes from. The script is going to be representative of everything the reader’s going to assume about the writer’s personality, talents and abilities.
To this end, some common mistakes and typos appear to suggest the screenwriter is not quite up to the task of writing a good script. Some of these blemishes are not immediately suggestive of a hack wannabe but are usually indicative of someone with a poor regard for the basic use of the English language.
In a fit of writing momentum, even the best writers may type you’re when they mean your, but that’s why proof reading a script is important. Ideally, don’t proof read your own script. Get someone else to do it. Somebody you trust and can rely on, whether it be a professional proof reader or a friend. Script readers usually make equally good proof readers, so they’re probably the best point of contact.
A total of one or two typos in a script may not be too disconcerting. However, when a script has a spelling mistake in its opening sentence, and then continues to pepper the description and dialogue with typos and dodgy use of grammar, then, well, it’s really distracting. Nine times out of ten, the story on offer is just as erratic, and the script becomes an easy PASS for the reader.
Getting the basics right can go a long way in ensuring a positive response to your script. Why not take the time to make sure that your script is wearing its Sunday best, and then no-one can complain about the way it looks, the way it reads, or the way it’s formatted.
Whoa! Even the Brits have this problem. In a way, that’s a relief!
SITCOM ROOM registration is now open – by Ken Levine
Ever wonder what it’s like to be a comedy writer on a sitcom? Being surrounded by really funny people in a work environment where laughter is not just encouraged but required? Is this something you’ve always wanted to do? Or just something you’d like to experience one time? Then I invite you to join THE SITCOM ROOM — a weekend hands-on seminar where you don’t just sit and listen to boring lectures for two days, you WRITE. You’re put in a writing room where you will fix a script and see Hollywood actors performyour material. It’s kind of like one of those baseball fantasy camps except you don’t blow out your hamstring.
I only do these once a year at the most. Sometimes I do them once every two years.
I only take twenty students.
And I opened registration on Sunday for those on my mailing list and within 48 hours I filled half of the slots. There are now only 10 openings. So if you’re interested, please take advantage now. When we’re sold out, that’s it. I keep it small so that every student gets ample attention and opportunity.
Ya gotta let go! Ya gotta fly! Ya gotta WRITE, dammit, WRITE!
Guilt-Free Creativity: Stop Kicking Yourself & Start Producing – by Elizabeth Grace Sanders
We’ve all been there: You finally carve out the time to work on a big creative project and then you… choke. After counting on this break to really produce something, you’re suddenly paralyzed by performance anxiety. But instead of showing up as fear on the surface, it manifests itself as guilt. If you don’t proceed with caution, you can soon fritter away your creative fortune on nickel and dime activities.
Whether you’re going on a planned sabbatical or retreat, or just in between gigs, the best way to prepare yourself for creative productivity is to decide in advance how you will respond when guilt attempts to frustrate your efforts. Here are three key temptations and how to thwart them:
Guilt That You Have More Time Than Others
The Challenge: If the people around you – family, friends, colleagues – seem really time-pressed, you can start to feel guilty that you have such unstructured days. To equalize the pressure, you might begin to volunteer to take on tasks such as running errands, attending meetings, and doing special projects because “you have the time.” At first, checking easy tasks off your list feels good, but soon you grow angry and resentful that you can’t make progress on your own big goals.
The Solution: Just because you’re working on a personal project, it doesn’t mean that you have free time. You must remember that any “extra” time has already been allocated toward your important goals. In a practical sense, this could look like blocking off your creative work time on your calendar – and respecting it – just like you would with a regular client meeting. Or if you prefer less structure, you could decide on a minimum number of hours each day and each week that you will spend doing what matters most to you. Everything you do for others will need to fit in the remaining discretionary time…
Guilt That You’re Not Making Money
The Challenge: If you’ve reduced your hours, decided not to pursue a job, or turned down contract work so that you can move your passion project forward, you may struggle with guilt that time spent on this work doesn’t immediately benefit you financially. This can lead you to distract yourself by doing time-consuming things that may save you a bit here and there, like selling things on Craigslist or going to three stores to find the cheapest price on a computer accessory, but ultimately steal time from your highest goal.
The Solution: If you start to feel anxious about finances when there’s nothing to actually worry about, meaning that you can easily pay your bills and put food on the table, remember why you decided to take this time in the first place. Remind yourself of how hard you found it to do your creative work when you had lots of other professional responsibilities. Also, decide to look at this as a long-term investment where you can have a larger pay-off in the end. To help make this idea tangible, look into contest applications, gallery show entries, grant opportunities, or job postings that you will be eligible for by using this time productively. Print them off and post them near your workspace…
Guilt That You Are Progressing Too Slowly
The Challenge: Once you have the time to focus on your creative pursuits, you may discover that you completely underestimated how long it would take you to make progress. Your grandiose visions of writing the next great American novel deflate to hopes of completing a few short stories. Or your desire to create a website that makes your designer friends drool diminishes to a hope that you’ll launch a site where all the hyperlinks function.
The Solution: Just because you have what you consider loads of time, doesn’t mean that you can get everything done at once. It took Michelangelo four years to paint the Sistine Chapel and some of the world’s greatest buildings took hundreds of years to construct. Instead of getting discouraged, record what actions you do on a daily and weekly basis and celebrate what you did accomplish. Also, try to find ways to get a sense of completion faster, such as publishing an excerpt of your book as an article, exhibiting the first painting in something that will become a series, or giving a presentation on your findings so far…
Know who doesn’t feel guilty about these 3 things? Exactly: Successful, working writers. Instead, they feel guilty about “making it” too fast, making too much money, and not having time to do anything but write. In other words, you just can’t win.
…So you can, you know, write/succeed/finish-what-you-start!
Ego Depletion, Motivation and Attention: A New Model of Self-Control – by Sam McNerney
The human brain is fickle when it comes to commitments. Between 60 and 80 percent of people don’t use their gym memberships. Most diets work at first but backfire in the long run. According to a 2007 survey conducted by the British psychologist Richard Wiseman, about 88 percent of New Year’s resolutions end in failure.
Given how widespread our broken pledges are, it’s no surprise that psychologists study human willpower. Florida State University Professor of Psychology Roy Baumeister is one of the main figures in this area of study. His research on willpower began in the late 1990s with a few papers demonstrating that when people exert willpower, self-control, persistence and rationality founder. Willpower, he discovered, was a limited resource easily drained by everyday activity.
Keep reading and you’ll see that the idea here is that willpower is an exhaustible resource. With that knowledge, we can now happily decide not to waste that exhaustible resource on little things so we have it when we need it.
Buh-bye, diet. Ten coherent script pages await the day! (Although, we always did want to learn Ukrainian. Hmm…)
Why Morning Routines Are Creativity Killers – by Annie Murphy Paul
Brrriiinnng. The alarm clock buzzes in another hectic weekday morning. You leap out of bed, rush into the shower, into your clothes and out the door with barely a moment to think. A stressful commute gets your blood pressure climbing. Once at the office, you glance through the newspaper, its array of stories ranging from discouraging to depressing to tragic. With a sigh, you pour yourself a cup of coffee and get down to work, ready to do some creative, original problem solving.
Good luck with that.
As several recent studies highlight, the way most of us spend our mornings is exactly counter to the conditions that neuroscientists and cognitive psychologists tell us promote flexible, open-minded thinking. Take that hurried wake-up, for example. In a study published in the journal Thinking and Reasoning last year, researchers Mareike Wieth and Rose Zacks reported that imaginative insights are most likely to come to us when we’re groggy and unfocused. The mental processes that inhibit distracting or irrelevant thoughts are at their weakest in these moments, allowing unexpected and sometimes inspired connections to be made. Sleepy people’s “more diffuse attentional focus,” they write, leads them to “widen their search through their knowledge network. This widening leads to an increase in creative problem solving.” By not giving yourself time to tune in to your meandering mind, you’re missing out on the surprising solutions it may offer. (If you happen to be one of those perky morning people, your most inventive time comes when you’re winding down in the early evening.)..
The only thing most of us do right in the morning, in fact, is drink coffee. Caffeine not only makes us more alert, as we all know — it also increases the brain’s level of dopamine, the neurotransmitter that influences feelings of motivation and reward when we hit on a great idea. (Nicotine does this too, but I can’t in good conscience recommend an a.m. cigarette.)
So what would our mornings look like if we re-engineered them in the interest of maximizing our creative-problem-solving capacities? We’d set the alarm a few minutes early and lie awake in bed….