The Dreaded “Block”

Writer’s block.

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.

The Query Letter

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.

The Power of Rejection

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.

Hollins University Web Series 2018: Failure to Adult

 

Failure to Adult-Cover Photo

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/failtoadultHU

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/failuretoadulthu/ 

 

Resume Advice for Screenwriters

Jacob N. Stuart, the Founder of Screenwriting Staffing, provides advice and guidance on how to create a screenwriter’s resume. He provides “12 Overview Points” about the who, what, when, why, and how about the information your writer’s resume needs to become gainfully employed as a writer in the business.

Read the full article here: A “HOW TO” GUIDE FOR WRITING THE “SCREENWRITER’S RESUME”

How to Trick Yourself Into Writing Your Screenplay

Naomi Beaty with ScreenCraft offers three tricks to help you get your screenplay done. Time and motivation are hard to come by sometimes, so you have to be creative about how you keep yourself from getting jaded.

Read the full article here: Trick Yourself Into Writing Your Screenplay

Are Locations a Character?

The folks at ScreenCraft discuss the location of a screenplay and how it works as a character to a story. Films such as Fatal Attraction, The FugitiveIn the War of the Roses, and The Woodsman are used as examples to explain just how location plays a role in bringing your story to life and how it completes your story onscreen.

Read the full article here: Do Your Locations Have Character?

Is My Screenplay Terrible? Here’s How to Find Out

Lisa Waugh with ScreenwritingU offers writers insight on how to determine whether or not your screenplay is good. With wit and humor, she offers six guidelines to think about as you evaluate your work and prepare to release it into the wild as well as warnings as to what can happen if you share your work too soon.

Read the Full Article Here: How to Know If Your Script Doesn’t Suck

Helpful Infographics for Screenwriters

Screenwriting is an inspiring, creative, amazing profession with seemingly endless opportunities. However, it can be daunting, especially for the newcomers. There’s a lot to take into account when writing out your movie: the setting, the time period, the genre, which actors will play which characters. The movie business has a lot of moving parts, but unlike writing novels where the novel is the finished product, the screenplay is where the whole journey begins. And that process is often very long and arduous. Stephanie Palmer, author of Good In a Room, provides several infographics to help decipher the screenwriting and process and movie business.

Read the Full Article Here: Screenplay Writing Explained In 7 Infographics

SCRIPT HACKS: 3 Kick-Ass Methods To Fix A Broken Screenplay Scene

Have you been staring at your computer screen at the blank page as the cursor taunts you with your inability to make it move? Caught yourself doodling on the blank notebook page because the words just. won’t. come. out. Is there a scene you’ve already written but, let’s face it, it’s pure fertilizer. If you have something on the page, you are halfway there. Give yourself a big high five. Don’t worry. Help is on the way! Alex Bloom with Script Magazine offers three “script hacks” on how to fix a broken scene so you can finish the story successfully and be on your way to winning your Oscar.

Read the full article here: SCRIPT HACKS: 3 Kick-Ass Methods To Fix A Broken Screenplay Scene