Thanks to a tough-as-nails computer, my family and friends who listened to my zany ideas; teachers who encouraged them to be even zanier; and classmates who read them out loud week-after-week, I now have two (yes, two) completed feature scripts in my arsenal. Plus a comedy-drama pilot script in the works!
They all need a lot more work done on them before they ever see the light of day, but I couldn’t be more proud of the work I did on them. It takes a lot of guts to spill your guts on paper, but doing so can teach you a lot about writing, life, and yourself.
To all the aspiring writers out there (and other creators too!), this is for you.
1. YOU CAN WRITE ABOUT ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING
Something I constantly heard in my weekly lectures at UCLA is that there are no original ideas. Everything has been done before. At first, hearing this could be deflating. But I had the opposite reaction. Given that virtually everything has been done before, the sky is the limit. Stay with me. You don’t need to try and impress people or be concerned with if people will like (or not like) your idea. You’re free to write whatever pops into your head. Nothing is too wacky. Too random. Too out there. They’ve seen it all. So, skip sticking with the bland, boring, bad ideas and just do you.
2. READING IS JUST AS IMPORTANT AS WRITING
Other scripts are your friends. Spend time with as many as you can. Devour each one. Study structure. Character arcs. Pacing. And honestly, enjoy the fun that comes with seeing how different the script is from the final film. Bonus points if you watch while you read. I enjoy reading in characters’ voices.
3. THAT NO ONE KNOWS ANYTHING
Take every opinion you get on your story with a grain of salt. Rules sort of exist when it comes to structure, but there’s an exception to every single one of them. Some scripts are like this. Others like that. Just learn the basic elements. Soon you’ll discover what works best for you and what doesn’t.
5. to be a little nosey in public
It’s amazing how little we interact with others around us nowadays. Thanks, social media! Why does this matter? Some of the best scenes and dialogue are inspired by real-life happenings. Like you’ll never believe what I heard over an intercom in Barnes and Noble.
6. WRITERS HAVE NO SAY IN THE MUSIC, CASTING, ETC.
But boy is it fun to dream! That’s why I have no shame in writing my song choices in montages and action lines. I’m trying to paint a picture with my words and sometimes I need background music. #SorryNotSorry
7. MOST SCRIPTS WILL NEVER GET MADE
Sad, but true. That’s why it’s important to…
8. FIND JOY IN THE WRITING PROCESS
Writing is the only thing you can control and the more you learn to love this part, the easier it will be to deal with the disappointment that comes with this profession. After you feel all the feels for writing…
9. GET COMFORTABLE WITH REWRITING
Your first drafts should never see the light of day. Well, maybe some trusted friends, teachers, or a writers group can take a look at it but overall, these drafts are for you. It’s going to take more than one pass to whip that baby into shape. Just think of it like this: If writing is pot of cold food, rewriting is the stove. In other words, without rewriting, your script is going nowhere. On second read, that analogy doesn’t make a lick of sense, so just take my word for it and get used to rewriting.
9. MAKE WRITER FRIENDS
They’re the only people who’ll always understand exactly what you’re going through. I may not always agree with their critiques, but I wouldn’t trade my writing group for anything in the world. Sometimes we just sit around and argue about the movies we’ve seen lately. Other times we laugh over the same inside jokes over and over and over again over drinks and trade sad dating stories.
10. THAT YOU HAVE TO START SOMEWHERE
Remember this on the nights when comparison kicks in. All great films and TV shows were once just an idea in someone’s head. It takes time (usually years and years) to create what you see on screen. Learn not to become frustrated with your rough first draft. Trust, I still have to tell myself this. That first draft has all the makings of an Academy Award winning script, but only if you don’t give up. Keep writing. People are counting on us to keep their Netflix queues filled one day!