I’ve written quite a bit in the past about how to prepare for a shoot. Today, we’re going to explore preparing to write and the different methods of writing preparation.
Now, writing is also a very essential part of a filmmaking. In fact, sometimes it comes even before the idea of the film. A good script builds a good framework on how you would like to go about making your film.
Now writing might seem daunting. There’s a great quote and I’m paraphrasing:
Blank paper is intimidating. It’s that cute girl at school and it’ll take every ounce of courage to ask her for a dance.
I forget who to attribute this quote to and I can’t find it online anymore. I want to say “Christopher something,” but either way it’s a great and fitting analogy for writing.
Don’t fret, I’ve been doing this for some time now, and I have got some tips that could help you with the writing process. These are what I actually do to get myself ready to write.
Writing is intimidating
Sometimes you just don’t want to write. Even just writing this article, I was gripped at times by the clutches of procrastination. It happens to us all.
And it’s especially difficult when you’re just about to start writing. That’s why writing preparation is so important. If you get the preparation right, then you can nip procrastination in the bud!
If you’re looking for a way to get the inspiration, to start, I have written something in the past to give you some tips to get your creative juices going. And, like I mentioned then, you really don’t want to be rolling out something unoriginal, boring and dull. No one wants that.
I actually have quite a rhythm when it comes to writing. I don’t want to say that I eat, breathe and sleep writing. But I am frequently driven towards writing, putting down something, and the sowing everything together.
Whether it’s a script, a brief for my production company, or a piece here on Filmmaking Lifestyle, writing is a big part of my life. And it’s true that it’s something of a love/hate relationship at this point.
Let me share with you how I go about it…
Everything and Everyone has a story
Firstly, ideas are everywhere. Just keep on the lookout for them.
I like to observe. I can spend hours in a café, or at the park, just looking at other people’s lives. I always have found it so interesting.
When I see an old couple walking together holding hands with each other, I imagine how their story has played out.
Perhaps they were young lovers, and only recently got reunited, after 40 or so years. Or perhaps they’ve been together forever.
When I see a boy with his dog, I imagine this dog was the best friend he had while he was going through a hard time at home, or that kid who likes to paddle, is he escaping or is he going towards something? I let my mind to travel, and go to places I have never experienced on my own.
I acknowledge that everyone’s life is interesting, and so are my character’s lives. I build my characters so that they do not just exist for the duration of the movie, but actually have a life of their own, and the movie just captures a part of their life, a significant one.
Sometimes writing your own story may be the best thing to publish. This is where you can combine words with personal feelings and experience. It may also be very intense writing this, but it’s an effective writing method, especially as an exercise to get yourself into writing flow. More on that in a bit.
Reading sparks ideas
You may have heard that line before, and it’s true! When I was younger, I just devoured books. They brought me to a world that I never knew existed beyond what I knew and saw everything.
I started having a grander sense of imagination because of what the story books had shared with me. And since then, my mind gets to travel, sometimes to the peak of Mount Everest, sometimes taking the role of an undercover cop whose gotten so deep in the world of the Italian Mafia that even his department is unsure about where his loyalties lie.
I still make it a goal to read as much as I can. Fiction, non-fiction, news, etc. They keep the fuel burning, even on my downtime, and I don’t have any writing to do.
Here’s a fitting quote from Werner Herzog about being a filmmaker. He has said in multiple interviews that if you want to be a filmmaker you should:
“Read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read… read, read… read.”
Perhaps, all that reading also had a big influence on my intellectual development as a young child, and that has helped me also become more observant as a person.
But we can’t daydream non-stop. You have to make sure that these thoughts and observations don’t go to waste.
So you must make sure you capture these ideas…
Always keep a notebook nearby
Okay, so we live in the digital age now. Yet, some of the smartest and most knowledgeable (and successful) folks I know still carry around a notebook.
Yes, an actual physical notebook.
Well, this may not be strictly a physical notebook, just some place where you can write down something when the thought comes. I make use of the notes app in my phone, on my laptop. I have also written things on the napkin that was given to me with my coffee earlier.
Why? Because thoughts can be fleeting, and you don’t want to lose an idea. It may not make sense immediately, but the idea came about. It may take a while to stitch it all together. Or it may also just be part of another story, which you will write in a later period in time.
Before having this disciple, I would have ‘AHA!’-moments that escaped me after 30 minutes. And then, I would scramble my brain again, when I finally got a pen, only to realize that the thought had left me.
And that sucks. That was an opportunity to mold something. I’ve learned my lesson since then, and I’ve been collecting my thoughts on paper.
Nothing beats being able to capture something before it passes.
Keep a rigorous schedule committed to writing
Fine, you may not be one of those 9-5 kinds of people who like to clock in at a physical office and crunch some numbers. Before you shrug off this part, I’ll tell you why you have to keep a regular schedule.
Believe it or not, our brains have a schedule. It typically alerts us when we are tired and knows when we need to sleep. It wakes us up after a good rest. And, of course, it essentially also tells us when we need to eat, aside from hearing our tummies grumble.
So, why shouldn’t it also be in concentrate mode when we need to write?
With experience, you will be able to see what kind of schedule works best for you when it comes to writing. Some people are night owls and get their most productive work done after everyone else has gone to bed. Some like to write just at sunrise with a cup of coffee by their side.
Whatever the routine, most famous writers will tell you that they had a daily routine that they followed. Having a routine sets your brain like a clock. It’ll know when to get you into ‘concentration mode,’ because you’ll be doing your writing at the same time every day.
Structure breeds success.
Write even when you don’t feel like writing
Similar to my previous point, aside from having a regular schedule to write, sometimes you will be tempted to not follow it because you ‘don’t feel like it’.
I have had days when I totally felt out of it. So have other writers. But, it’s not an excuse. I’ve written crap before, that I ended up not including in my final draft, and I know that that’s okay.
It was a good exercise. In fact, it lets me still dive in deeper to something I wouldn’t have done on a better day. I may throw away what I wrote on a bad day, but at least I went and explored it.
My point here is.. make it a habit.
Habits are only really fulfilled when you regularly get to do it, even when you initially don’t feel like it. Eventually, the pain of trying to get out of it gets less and less, and soon, it will just be a natural part of you.
Write as if you’re speaking to a friend
Whenever I’m struggling with writing, it really helps to imagine that I’m just writing to a friend. This is especially effective for blog post writing, or any kind of long-form writing.
I’ll sit there and imagine, “Okay, I’m writing to my friend Ben now.”
I’ll even go as far as adding things into my text like, “Just imagine you’re sat down with me in a coffee shop and we’re just chilling out” in some of my pieces of writing.
Another thing you can do is read your piece of writing through and imagine you’re actually reading it directly to that friend. As if you’ve penned a letter and they’re the sole audience. Again, this really helps for all kinds of writing, but especially long-form stuff.
Why does it work? Because you’re personalizing your writing it actually makes it easier to write. It makes it more relevant if you can actually see your target audience in your head as you write.
Years ago, I’d actually read books and imagine them as movies. So I’d read a novel and it would suddenly become a script. I say years ago, but I actually still do this. The characters would take on on-screen speaking roles in my mind and the whole book would become more cinematic.
You can do a similar thing to this with your writing.
Just start writing
There are many exercises to help with your writing, especially for writing preparation.
One of my favorites is to just start writing. Block out a time you’re going to write and then make sure you start writing. You can write about anything and everything – it doesn’t matter. Just write about something to get your writing and creative juices flowing.
Here’s how it works:
- Block out a scheduled time to write everyday. It helps if it’s the same time every day, as this will build a habit.
- Now, sit down and write.
- Write about absolutely anything when you start.
- It can be gobblydegook and total nonsense. This exercise is just about getting your writing muscles started.
- Carry on writing and knock off your writing tasks during your allotted writing time!
You’ll find with this technique that you get into the writing flow and everything comes a lot more naturally. Once you get started, you’ll find writing comes more naturally throughout the day.
It’s just about getting started. Everything flows from there.
Have a balanced life
This may sound clichéd, and you may think, ‘why do I have to be told this, when all I want to do is know how to write?’
Actually, it does make a big difference. I know I perform a lot better, and write a lot better when I have been able to run 3 miles every other day, have my three meals, a beer or two in the evening, and sleep 8 hours a day.
This may not be the same routine that works for you, but I do need the endorphins, the right amount of calories and enough rest to be able to let my entire body function. This, likewise, improves mental concentration.
I take time out on weekends, to refresh myself, and get out from the light of my laptop to the rays of sunlight, and get as much of that natural Vitamin D as I can. It is, after all, great for your energy levels.
Also, I get to reward myself, after I have been able to meet some milestones in my writing. And I also have fun planning for those milestones.
Writing Preparation – In Conclusion
Take time to reward yourself. Don’t forget that.
Aside from doing the research I have to for my writing, I also set some time for research on non-work stuff. Like what kind of vacation spot to take the long weekend in, or where our next dinner spot will be once I hit my next milestone.
I also tend to make plans with friends during the week, to meet up with them over the weekend. These are little wins for me that help with my overall concentration and productivity, and to get my own creative juices flowing naturally.
So, these are what I want to share about what I do, before, during and after the entire process of writing. They are my own personal recommendations based on my experience, and I hope they get to be an effective method for you as well.
Remember, sometimes just sitting down and starting to write is 9o% of the battle. It’s like that old adage about, “Showing up is 90% of being successful.”
Have fun writing!
We hope you’ve found our article on writing preparation useful to you and your particular circumstances and situation. Did we miss any writing tips that you really like? How do you go about your writing preparation? Let us know in the comments below.