SCRIPT ANGEL: Why Intensive Writing Is Vital

Hayley McKenzie is a Script Editor and founder of Script Angel, helping screenwriters elevate their craft and advance their screenwriting career. Follow her on Twitter @scriptangel1.

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I’ve worked with hundreds of new writers over the years, all of them passionate about screenwriting and eager to turn their hobby into their career. While many of them, I’m delighted to say, do make that leap, just as many don’t. You might think that what separates those that do from those that don’t is a natural talent, but you’d be wrong. The defining feature of those writers that make the leap from hobbyist to represented writer earning their living from their passion is that their approach to screenwriting is intensive – they simply write more and write more often.

SCRIPT ANGEL: Why Intensive Writing Is Vital by Hayley McKenzie | Script Magazine

I totally get that there is a heck of a lot more to screenwriting than just writing the actual pages of a script. I’ve been a script editor in production and in development and I understand the need for projects to percolate in the subconscious. But just endless thinking about your idea instead of committing it to paper and beginning the process of redrafting is a sure-fire way for you to make progress at a snail’s pace. Great athletes, musicians and artists didn’t become great by thinking about doing it, they became brilliant by the intensive practice of their craft. Screenwriting is no different.

I’ve recently had the pleasure of speaking at the London Screenwriters’ Festival. As well catching up with my own brilliant clients, I also bumped into a few lovely writers I’d met previously but never worked with. Many had spoken the previous year about wanting to make more progress and, although they hadn’t come to Script Angel for help developing their work, I assumed they had sought help and feedback elsewhere. What surprised me was how many of those writers who had spoken to me so passionately about writing a year ago hadn’t written a single new thing since then. In fact many hadn’t even managed to do a full rewrite on the script they’d been writing back then.

It’s hard, I know. A demanding day-job, family commitments and friendships all compete for our time. But in my experience it’s pretty much impossible to become a good enough screenwriter to break in without actually doing a LOT of writing. Having seen first-hand the dramatic difference between those writing occasionally and those writing every day, I recently decided to focus Script Angel on helping those writers dedicated to writing intensively. We now offer writers the opportunity to work with an experienced script editor over three months, six months or a year, setting deadlines and providing swift feedback on multiple drafts.

What we offer at Script Angel might not be quite right for you, but however you achieve it, it’s vital that you put a rocket under your writing. By simply doing more writing more often, and getting feedback at every stage, you can become a much better writer much faster. Even with the right kind of help it’s still a long road, with most writers (assuming you’re working pretty intensively) typically taking five years to break in. But if you just write occasionally making any kind of progress is going to be frustratingly slow and difficult.

Don’t be one of those aspiring writers who let another year go by without actually having done the writing you meant to do. However you do it, get feedback, find someone to set you deadlines and do more writing!

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