As a screenwriter, there are times you’ll be asked to write fast. Whether it’s a class, a contest, an opportunity to submit, or an assignment—a screenwriter’s life is full of deadlines. And, at the beginning of your career, you’ll get this question “We really liked your script, what else do you have?” In that moment, you’ll realize just how important writing fast can be. Here are a few ideas on how to get those juices flowing and keep them flowing.
No 1 – Outline.
People always ask me if I outline or fly by the seat of my pants. My typical answer is a little of both. I don’t recommend outlining to the point of perfection unless someone’s paying you to do that. I outline in a very half-assed, haphazard way until I get bored with that and have to start writing. So, does that save time? Absolutely. The biggest waste of your time is sitting looking at an empty screen not knowing what comes next. If you’re like me and only outline part way, stop when you run out of outline and outline some more. Knowing where you’re going, even if it’s just for the next twenty pages is a huge timesaver.
No. 2 — Write anything.
I’m going to repeat something I just said, the biggest waste of time is looking at a blank screen. If you really can’t think of anything to write, write characters descriptions, write scene descriptions. You’re going to need them eventually and you can write a description about a warehouse even if you don’t know what will happen in there. And… don’t worry if what you’re writing is good. Once you finish you will go back and edit. That’s when you worry if it’s good or not. And that’s when you fix it.
No. 3 — Keep count.
This may seem obsessive and something of a time-waster so if you’re not into it just move on. But, if you’re like me keeping a daily word count (or page count) is very important. Knowing that I wrote three thousand words yesterday makes me excited to come back to the project tomorrow. And if I’m excited I write faster. On those days when I don’t write three thousand words, it’s good to have an idea how much I did do. There’s nothing wrong with bribing yourself with a latte or an extra cookie when you’re three or four hundred words away from a milestone.
No. 4 — Quit while you’re ahead.
If you have trouble getting started first thing each morning, then quit writing half way through a scene. If you know what comes next makes it’s a lot easier to get started the next morning. Writing begets writing. By the time you finish the scene from last night you’ll have a good sense of where you need to go next.
No. 5 — Keep notes.
Most of these suggestions work well if you’re sitting at your desk writing all day long. But what if you’re grabbing bits of time here and there? If your day is broken up into many different activities and you only have a little bit of time to devote solely to writing then you need a little notebook (or a recording app) to carry around and take notes as things occur to you. If you do a good job taking notes when the ideas come then the next time you sit down to write, you’ll have a page or two of notes to input and that will, generally, grease the gears and get things going.
These tips should get you started writing fast. Do you have any good tricks for writing fast?