15 Minutes a Day

Slow and steady progress beats hasty, sporadic effort every time. If you want to succeed, spend at least 15 minutes every day working on your screenplay. Chances are good that you’ll get into a flow and want to do more than 15 minutes, but make 15 minutes a bare minimum and you’ll see massive results through slow and steady progress.

I’m working with an incredible vocal coach (www.vocalawareness.com) who has coached major celebrities including Pierce Brosnan, Sean Connery, Angelina Jolie, and Arnold Schwazenegger. His main teaching method focuses on doing simple vocal exercises for only seven minutes a day. Do this consistently and you’ll gradually see and feel an improvement in your vocal abilities.

Writing a screenplay is no different. Anyone can spare an extra 15 minutes a day to write. The goal is simply to force you to develop the habit of writing consistently. The more you write, the closer you’ll get to success.

This vocal coach told me that in pursuing any goal or dream, you always have two choices: To do or not. It all depends on how badly you want it.

If you can’t spare 15 minutes a day to work on your screenwriting career, you probably don’t want it that badly. That’s okay. What’s not okay is if you keep dreaming about becoming a screenwriter but do nothing to make your dream come true.

That’s why 15 minutes is such a powerful metaphor for both allocating your time everyday to writing and to breaking up a 120 minute screenplay into eight distinct, 15-minute segments. Fifteen minutes isn’t much time. We waste more time in traffic.

To help you stay on your daily 15 minute a day writing routine, break down some different tasks you can work on. That way if you don’t feel like doing any actual writing, you can work on the background of your story or the plot and still work gradually towards your eventual success.

Here are some ideas for working in your 15 minute time period:

  • Write. If you don’t feel like working on your actual script or you haven’t gotten far enough in your planning to justify writing, just practice writing any scene so you can start describing scenes cinematically. Make sure everything you write has a distinct beginning (Inciting Incident), conflict where an outcome is in doubt (Rising Action) and a definitive end (Climax).
  • Think of different titles for your screenplay.
  • Make up different taglines to summarize the theme or feel of your story.
  • Write a one-page synopsis that condenses your story.
  • Write a multiple page treatment that describes your entire story. Treatments can help you see what gaps exist in your story.

Always do something to further your story along whether it’s simple research, writing actual scenes, or just writing down background information about your characters. Remember the story about the turtle and the hare.

The turtle worked slowly and steadily towards the finish line but the hare dashed ahead and then did nothing while the turtle slowly crept past.

You don’t want to be the hare. You want to be the turtle. Even better, you want to be the hare that has the persistence of a turtle so you’ll reach your goal faster than you thought possible, and it can all happen just by spending 15 minutes a day working on your screenplay.

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