We’ve all heard that it takes 10,000 of practice to become a virtuoso piano player or tennis champ. While the hours might be debatable there is little doubt about the principle behind it; to get better at something you have to actually do it, a LOT! Are you really investing enough of your time in your screenwriting to make the progress you want?
Here are some of the best ways to invest in yourself as a screenwriter:
1) Join A Writing Group (locally or online)
Pros: It’s probably free, you can use it to make commitments about how much writing you’ll do in between get-togethers and get your group to hold you to it, great for peer review of each other’s scripts.
Cons: You might be in a group of writers with less experience than you so might feel you’re not learning very much.
Tips: Be open to meeting new people.
2) Take A Class or Course
Pros: You can find courses running a few weekends or a year or more, it encourages you to make a time and financial commitment so you’re more likely to put the work in, good courses set homework which further encourages you to get the writing done.
Cons: Although many courses offer some feedback on what you’ve written, the time pressures on course leaders means the feedback can be very limited, teaching can be a bit generalised.
Tips: Figure out what you want to get out of the course and then find one that best suits your needs.
3) Go On A Writing Retreat
Pros: It forces you to invest a chunk of uninterrupted time you might struggle to achieve any other way, being in a different environment encourages new ways of thinking so you don’t keep repeating thought patterns, improving your chances of producing something new and different, chance to meet other writers.
Cons: It is essentially a holiday so it’s a relatively pricey way of getting quite a short chunk of writing time.
Tips: Decide what’s most important to you (location, retreat leader, feedback opportunities) and then research what’s out there.
4) Attend A Screenwriting Conference – London Screenwriters’ Festival, Screenwriters World Conference (L.A or New York), Great American Pitch Fest
Pros: Most have great pitching opportunities, committing to it gives you a deadline to polish work you can pitch there, intensive, immersive, chance to meet lots of other writers and hear from industry experts.
Cons: Might feel a bit pricey for a few days, though LSF has a payment plan to spread the cost.
Tips: Commit early then plan a schedule to get work ready, building in time to get feedback on your scripts / pitches and rewrite accordingly before you go.
5) Get Professional Feedback On Your Script
Pros: Notes should inspire a constructive rewrite, screenwriting advice is tailored to you and your writing strengths and weaknesses.
Cons: Can be pricey and quality of feedback ranges enormously.
Tips: Get recommendations from fellow writers and check out the credentials of those offering feedback.
6) Find A Mentor / Coach
Pros: A good mentor will give you personalised script feedback on a portfolio of work, set goals and deadlines with you, offer support and advice, they are interested in helping you develop as a screenwriter.
Cons: Pricey, you need to put the writing in to make it worth your time and money.
Tips: Make sure you give yourself enough time every week to do the writing so your mentor regularly has work to respond to.