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Ten Habits of Highly Successful Screenwriters

TEN HABITS OF HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL SCREENWRITERS By Derek Rydall Founder, ScriptwriterCentral.com “Bad habits are like a comfortable bed, easy to get into, but hard to get out of,” -- Unknown “Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones,” -- Benjamin Franklin Think of this as a quick-reference for instant inspiration – whether you’re a screenwriter or script consultant: 1. DO SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE EVERY DAY Write something every day – whether it’s your project or an assignment. If you find yourself stuck just staring at a blank screen, try staring at a great script instead -- and try to figure out how it’s put together. It might inspire you to get your own writing done. The point here is to keep exercising and refining your craft, building your knowledge, and keeping the momentum – all of which will give you a competitive edge.

This isn’t about becoming a workaholic. It’s about breaking through the inertia of complacency. It’s so easy to get comfortable, to settle for the status quo, to rationalize why you’re not doing what you know you need to in order to succeed. “I don’t fee like it,” is not a viable excuse anymore. 2.

TAKE FREQUENT BREAKS This may sound like a contradiction to the above habit. It’s not. In fact, without this one, you won’t be able to sustain the level of quality and productivity referred to above. Unless you’re able to take a break (whether it’s ten minute, an hour, a day, or a week) and recharge, you’ll soon be booking a room in burnout city. 3. GET ORGANIZED A messy, disorganized office is an energy sapper if there ever was one. Not just because it takes longer to find that important document under that stack of unopened bills, but also because it literally pulls power from your psychic field. Every little ‘toleration’ you put up with burns fuel that could be put to much better use in growing your business. 4. WORK WHEN YOU WORK BEST Some of us are morning people.

Others are struck with the muse at the stroke of midnight. If you don’t already know, find out what time of day you work best, and gear your most labor-intensive activities for that time period. (Of course, if you’re on a deadline, you might have to work around the clock, but that’s a different issue.) If you schedule your activities based on your energy cycles, you will find your productivity take a quantum leap. For example, I have two periods when I work the best – late morning and late afternoon. So I try to schedule the heavy-lifting (writing, analyzing) during those hours. When I first get up, I need to ease into the day’s work, so I do more preparatory work, like going over the day’s schedule, straightening up the office, e-mails. Once I’m warmed up, I crack open the script or writing file and get to work for a few hours. I break for lunch, meditation, make calls, work out, do some errands – and start my second writing period. Then it’s home for family time, dinner, and bedtime stories.

But not my bedtime. Because at night, my energy cycle is perfect for opening mail, paying bills, filing, during simple research – tasks that don’t take a lot of energy. The point of this example is that if I opened my mail and paid my bills in the late morning, I would waste my most productive energy cycle (not to mention become depressed) which I couldn’t make-up very easily at night during my bill paying, mail-opening time. Make sense? It may take some time to find your perfect energy-schedule, but it’s worth the experimentation. I’m still making adjustments. 5. GIVE EVERY PROJECT 100% Treat every project like it’s the job of your dreams – and you’ll soon attract more and more of your dream jobs. Why? Because you don’t get what you want in life, you get what you are. Ghandi said we must become the change we want to see in the world. Likewise, we must become the kind of person who would get the kind of jobs we want in the world.

This is another one of those universal principles I keep slipping in here. If it gives you a headache to try and make sense of it, don’t. Just give it a shot and see what happens. 6. KEEP LEARNING To have what others don’t, you must do what others won’t. The average person – and for that matter, the average script consultant – has a tendency to take the path of least resistance. So you must take the road less traveled. Stay open at the top. Maintain a Beginner’s Mind.


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