It's no secret that if you want to get better at something then you need to practice and practice. And the more you practice, the better you should get. This isn't always true, many will practice, and reach a plateau. They'll reach a certain level of competency, and they just won't go any further. No matter how much time and effort they put in, they just won't get to the next level. This is very true when it comes to writing. But you can increase the odds if you actually learn to focus, rather than spreading yourself thin over far too many projects in any given year, or time period.
There is a limit to the amount you can write in any given period of time. Let's say for arguments sake, that you set yourself writing goals for a year. These goals that you want to achieve will be dependent on what other commitments you have outside of writing. Whether or not you have a family, work full-time, or part-time. All these factors will impede the amount of time you have to write. So what should you do? Should you try and write as much as you can, or should you focus on a small number of projects?
The reason I'm bringing this up, is because I have a habit of writing far too much, and this causes me to lose focus, and not put in enough time and energy into developing a project that I've finished. As an example, I wrote nine screenplays last year, and the year before that, I wrote nine screenplays. I'll tell you first hand, that's far too many projects. Writing this much exhausts your imagination, and creative juices, and leaves you no time to develop anything in that given year. There just isn't enough time to develop, and improve a project. And by doing this, and I'll be honest, 99.99 percent of what I wrote was terrible. Some of those projects are workable, and have potential to be developed, but the quality suffered big time. Because I didn't put the time in. Developing a feature project will take a lot of time and energy, and many drafts. Thinking that a vomit draft is acceptable is wrong. It's never acceptable!
From my own personal experience, I would say, and this is dependent on what other commitments you have outside of writing, that you should be aiming for three projects, possibly four in any given year. If you're writing features. I can't really put a figure out there for TV pilots, and sitcoms, but the number should be low enough so that it enables you time to get feedback and notes on them. So that you can rework, and develop them through the course of a year. By doing this, you will hopefully give yourself the chance to put a lot more time and effort into the project.
Three feature projects will give you roughly four months to work on each of them.
Four feature projects will give you roughly three months to work on each of them.
Knock out that first draft, and then get feedback and notes on it. And while you're waiting for those notes, start work on your next project.
Having three projects that you've rewritten, will be a lot better than having six shoddy first-drafts of six projects that you've put no real effort or work into.
Be realistic in the amount of time you have available through the year, and then set yourself some realistic goals that you can achieve.
Quality should always trump quantity.
Make that screenplay the best it can be. Give yourself the best shot. Whether you're entering it into a competition, or sending it out to people to read.
Best of luck for 2015.
Keep coming up with those ideas.
Welcome to Russell’s website. A storyteller who enjoys writing screenplays for movies. Even though the process is hard. It keeps his imagination working overtime.
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