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Ten Habits of Highly Successful Screenwriters

TEN HABITS OF HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL SCREENWRITERS By Derek Rydall Founder, ScriptwriterCentral.com ďBad habits are like a comfortable bed, easy to get into, but hard to get out of,Ē -- Unknown ďYour net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones,Ē -- Benjamin Franklin Think of this as a quick-reference for instant inspiration Ė whether youíre a screenwriter or script consultant:

1. DO SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE EVERY DAY Write something every day Ė whether itís 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 itís 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 Ė all of which will give you a competitive edge. This isnít about becoming a workaholic. Itís about breaking through the inertia of complacency. Itís so easy to get comfortable, to settle for the status quo, to rationalize why youíre not doing what you know you need to in order to succeed. ďI donít fee like it,Ē is not a viable excuse anymore.

2. TAKE FREQUENT BREAKS This may sound like a contradiction to the above habit. Itís not. In fact, without this one, you wonít be able to sustain the level of quality and productivity referred to above. Unless youíre able to take a break (whether itís ten minute, an hour, a day, or a week) and recharge, youíll 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 Ďtolerationí 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 donít 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 youíre on a deadline, you might have to work around the clock, but thatís 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 Ė 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 dayís work, so I do more preparatory work, like going over the dayís schedule, straightening up the office, e-mails. Once Iím 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 Ė and start my second writing period. Then itís 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 Ė tasks that donít 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 couldnít 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 itís worth the experimentation. Iím still making adjustments.

5. GIVE EVERY PROJECT 100% Treat every project like itís the job of your dreams Ė and youíll soon attract more and more of your dream jobs. Why? Because you donít 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, donít. Just give it a shot and see what happens.

6. KEEP LEARNING To have what others donít, you must do what others wonít. The average person Ė and for that matter, the average script consultant Ė 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 Beginnerís Mind. Besides continued study in related and complimentary fields Ė read and investigate areas outside of your field Ė and outside of show business. Some of the most innovative ideas have come from people adapting concepts they discovered in completely unrelated fields.

7. ACT AND DRESS LIKE A PRO This is another relative rule. A stockbroker acts and dresses quite differently than a tennis pro. In the entertainment industry, an executive acts and dresses differently than an actor. Even more specific, different clients will have different expectations. In general, business casual seems to work best. You also want to have an updated resume and work samples readily available. Do your homework, show up to appointments with all the right gear to get the job done, and treat each client or prospect with the utmost respect and value.

8. HONOR YOUR WORK HOURS During work hours, especially in a home office, youíll have plenty of opportunities for distraction from well-meaning friends and family members. In the most diplomatic tone you can muster, kindly inform them that youíre at work not at home. This is a real business, not a hobby. Youíll talk to them after hours, or on your break.

9. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF Feed your mind and body with high quality nourishment -- and exercise. I know this is obvious to most people -- yet most people still donít do it. Writing and consulting is hard work that requires real endurance. If you want to be a high-performance person, you need to run on high-octane fuel.


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