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Complications Ensue:
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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I'm working on my fifth screenplay and while I am still improving as a writer, the pace with which I write is too slow. I want to crank out three perfect spec pages every day, but it takes me all day just to write two pages and many times I get stuck. I tend to get bogged down trying to make the right choices. I could never write for TV with its fast pace. Could you shed some light on how you improved as a writer over time in quality but also in speed? Thanks!

I'd love to help, but I was always fast. If anything, I'd say I've had to learn to slow down.

I think I write fast mostly because I plan ahead, and then I don't overthink.

Planning ahead means making sure in advance that I know what the scene has to do. I have a beat sheet that tells me what has to happen by the end of the scene. So the only hard part about writing the scene from the outline is figuring out how to get into the scene.

Not overthinking it means I am not trying to write three perfect pages a day. If I'm writing a feature, I am trying to write at least five pages a day, and on a good day, maybe up to twelve. If I'm writing TV, I could easily hit fifteen pages a day, and I've written an entire half hour script in a day. (TV is faster because I know the characters and the template; there's less to invent.) Some of those pages may be what I hoped for. Some may not. But I'm probably not going to go back and even read them until I've written the whole script. Once I've written a scene, I won't go back and fuss with it unless something I write down the road specifically makes me think I need to add something.

I think it's inefficient to rewrite pages before you've written the whole script. Only once you've written the whole script do you know how the pieces fit. You may realize that a scene that was just not working is just not working because of something you didn't do right earlier. Or you may realize you don't actually need that scene. Why fuss with it until you can see it in context?

I would say that probably the shortest period of time I spend writing a script is writing the first draft. I spend more time thinking up the concept and creating the outline. And then I tweak.

Stop worrying and just write.



Hey Alex,

I have the same issue, writing slow. I don't think there's an easy answer but I do think that having a beat sheet & outline are key to facilitating.

FYI: A bunch of your posts have the text all crossed out.

By Blogger januaryfire, at 4:23 PM  

My advice: Freedom for Mac/Windows http://macfreedom.com/ I can't believe how much more I get done with that turned on. No more constantly checking dictionary.com, being distracted by Twitter, or researching the specifics of a location. Just me and my writing. Tune the world out.

By Blogger Vaughn, at 2:04 PM  

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