We’ve all had it, we all hate it. If you’ve ever stared at a blinking cursor on your screen, or at a stack of empty note cards, or off into the abyss and thought, “I’ve got nothing,” know that you’re not alone. Even the greats find themselves in creative and motivational funks. But just because things may seem difficult or bleak, doesn’t mean that there isn’t a way out.
Here’s a concise and action-centered list of things to do to shake off the gloom and get back into the swing of things. It also has a handy list of things that do NOT help with writer’s block (like reading and writing articles about writer’s block, whoops!).
But as every article, blog, and well-meaning professor or mentor will tell you, the only true way to get through the writer’s block is by simply writing. Writing crap, writing nonsense, writing something terrible and confusing and so off that it’s cringe-worthy. It doesn’t matter what you’re writing, so long as you actually do it. So stop dragging your feet, stop expecting perfection or inspiration or ease, and just write already!
How have you dealt with your creative blocks? Share any helpful tips or encouraging stories in the comments.
You’ve brainstormed a concept, you’ve outlined and rearranged, you’ve written, rewritten, and then rewritten again, and you’ve got yourself a daggum screenplay. Congratulations! First, take a second to pat yourself on the back. Everyone’s got an idea for a movie, but very few people actually finish what they start. Once you’re done being proud of yourself, that sinking feeling sets in and you ask yourself this horrifying question: “what do I do now?”
There are countless ways to “break into the business” which can somehow make it seem more difficult to accomplish. But if you’re starting from scratch, the next best step is to get your query letter together.
A query letter in today’s world is an email with a casual introduction, a killer logline, and a polite sign off. That’s it. Take a look at this helpful article from ScreenCraft about how to construct the perfect query letter.
As screenwriters, we get rejected a lot. If you haven’t, you’re either very lucky, or very new at this. Submitting your work and having it ignored (if you’re lucky) or ripped apart (if you’re not), doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Learning from rejection is a time-honored rite of passage for all aspiring creators. Harry Potter was rejected by publishers a solid twelve times, sometimes with harsh words, before our favorite boy wizard inspired seven books, eight films, and three theme parks.
If your pitch, story, or screenplay is turned down, congratulations! You thought of something, made it, and showed it to someone else. That is something to be commended and celebrated. Use this time to pat yourself on the back for being brave, but also use it as a time to see where you went wrong. Improve your structure, take another look at the dialogue, tweak and tighten, so that when you submit it again (which you definitely will), it’ll be that much harder to turn down.
And while you may be discouraged, take heart in the fact that some of our favorite movies of all time were passed over before finding their way to the big screen. See some shocking examples here, watch Brian Grazer’s words of encouragement here, and share in the comments something you’ve learned from rejection.
This summer, the students in the Hollins University Graduate Screenwriting & Film Studies video production class will release a seven-episode web series, called Failure to Adult, that was written, directed, and edited by Hollins University students. The writing took place during the spring semester prior and the filming of all seven episodes took place during the six-week summer session. It really is impressive what was accomplished in that time frame.
As a member of this class, I was incredibly excited to learn the filmmaking process from start to finish and script to screen as a new writer and filmmaker (I can say that now!). It was wonderful to learn each phase of the filmmaking process and how each phase brings its own set of challenges. We had six weeks to cast, shoot, edit, and premiere the web series. In order to do this successfully, we really had to work together and take on our own unique roles outside of rotating between the crew positions of Director, 1st Assistant Director (1st AD, the person who manages the set), Sound, Gaffer (the person in charge of the lights), props master/craft services (free food!), Director of Photography (DP), and Script Supervisor (scripty). While some of us hunted locations another corresponded with actors while somebody else organized all of our necessary information so we could all stay on the same page. It was a whirlwind of a process, but we are happy about the outcome. The coolest (and most terrifying) feeling was sitting in a room with peers and friends as we watched and laughed at the show we created. We got some strong feedback and are hopeful about how it will be received.
Feel free to check out the series and share it with people you know. It will officially launch in September on Vimeo and YouTube. Stay tuned!
Click here to see more details: Failure to Adult: Official Facebook Page
Press from NPR: Hollins Program Cranks Out Hopeful Filmmakers
Paula Schwartz with MovieMaker magazine sat down with Linus Sandgren to discuss the behind the scenes details about how he and director Damien Chazelle directed and filmed everything in La La Land.
Read the full article here: The Camera is a Dancer: DP Linus Sandgren Walks Us Through How He and Damien Chazelle Shot La La Land
Music plays such a vital role in the film and storytelling process. Alfred Hitchcock considered this role to be so important, he often listed his music directors directly after his name in the opening credits of his films. The folks at Film Courage sat down with music producer Harvey Mason, Jr to discuss everything from how to create a film soundtrack, what a music producer actually does to moving to Los Angeles to what happens after saying “YES” to a project.
Harvey Mason’s work includes SING, DreamGirls, Pitch Perfect, Sparkle, and The Wiz Live!
See the full video, article, and Harvey’s bio here: First Steps In Making A Movie Soundtrack by Harvey Mason, Jr.
Christopher Campbell from Film School Rejects gathers and shares six pieces of filmmaking advice from British filmmaker Ben Wheatley. As creatives, we find inspiration from many people, places, events, and things. Here’s more insight into how one successful filmmaker gets work done. Use your inspiration wisely 🙂
Read the full article here: 6 Filmmaking Tips from Ben Wheatley
Stephanie Forshee with Backstage provides some insight and guidance to budding and aspiring film directors. She answers every question such as what does a film director really do, how to get started, and how to find your artistic style as a director. She discusses several examples of how some of the most famous directors got their start. She reminds readers of one truth of the business: everyone’s path is different
Read the Full Article Here: How to Become a Film Director
Writing requires a tremendous amount of work and that work often happens in phases. If you were to look at the first drafts of Hamilton or Harry Potter, they would look undeniably different from their final products. First, you brainstorm. Then you create outlines about your story, the characters, the plot, and every other detail imaginable. Writers do this several times in several different ways. Then they write the first of many drafts. Ken Miyamoto with ScreenCraft discusses the difference between outlines, treatments, and scriptments and how each of them is important to the story development process.
Read the full article here: Outlines, Treatments, and Scriptments, Oh My!
Hunter Harris at Vulture shares a Vimeo clip of Greta Gerwig directing onset of “Lady Bird”. It’s always inspiring and fascinating to watch the behind-the-scenes work of anything that gets created. This video shares a small glimpse into the behind-the-scenes world of one of the most beloved films of the year.
See full article here: Warm Your Icy, Jaded Heart With This Video of Greta Gerwig Directing Lady Bird