One of the first steps after signing on to a new project is to begin crafting a script. Scripts help us determine both what the content will be, but also, how it’s going to be delivered. Some of our clients opt to write scripts for their projects internally, instead of working with a third party scriptwriter. Regardless, we know how daunting it can be to face a blank page, which is why we offer script consultation for all of our clients.
The great thing about scriptwriting is there isn’t a right or wrong way to go about it! But, at some point, we all experience a moment or two of frustration. So here is some advice to help, whether you’re having a tough time getting started, or you’re experiencing some serious writer’s block! These are some of my personal favorite tips to help maintain your momentum:
1. Organize your thoughts
There are so many different ways to help yourself get/stay organized. I find having some solid source where I can list all my thoughts and revisit while I work is incredibly helpful. Not only does it keep you on track, but if done well, you get most of the legwork done upfront.
Notecards are easy to arrange and rearrange while you’re planning topics, or your thought progression. This is a great method if you prefer to have tangible notes in front of you, or if you’re in the very preliminary stages of writing.
Bullet points are my personal favorite because they allow you to write or type your thoughts in a stream-of-consciousness manner. With bullet points, you don’t have to worry about creating a full sentence or thought…yet. This method is useful when you feel like the information you have lacks a definitive structure. Since you’re only organizing the main points, it allows you to easily and clearly list your thoughts and see where you need to create transitions or connections between those thoughts or ideas.
Finally, outlines are a great way to take the previous suggestions and combine them. I find this method is most useful when you’re closer to creating a rough draft. While most outlines tend to use concise bullet points to create a high-level overview of the piece, my personal tip would be to outline using complete sentences--be as thorough as possible. What you’ll find is that your writing begins to flow, and that you connect the dots quite naturally between topics.
In my opinion, getting organized is the most beneficial tip for scriptwriting; this allows you to get those thoughts out of your brain and onto a page, or word doc. You already have all the raw materials, now it’s time to start putting them together.
2. Change of perspective
The obvious, and immediate, trick for this is to get up and go for a walk. Sometimes just moving around helps get you out of your writing funk. Many of us spend our days sitting at our computers, or hunched over a notepad scribbling down ideas as they come. Getting out into the world and grabbing some fresh air is a simple and efficient way to liven things up.
Perhaps you don’t have the opportunity to leave your workspace; instead, take a few minutes to clean up your office or desk area. The fewer distractions--or in my case, unsightly indications that your post-its are planning a revolution--the better. These seemingly small things will soon catch your eye and start nagging at you to address them. Having a clean setup allows you to stay focused and stop fidgeting with the bobblehead on your desk corner. Plus, once you’ve finished writing, you’ll feel even more accomplished that your space is tidy too.
If you feel motivated by a rewards-based system, try approaching writing like a game! Time yourself and see how much you can accomplish in 30 minutes. Or stretch yourself and see what you can do in 60 minutes…and then, if you're me, reward yourself with coffee. Lots of coffee. We all have massive to-do lists, and the thought of all those unchecked items can send your head spinning. Timing yourself creates a sense of urgency, but also ensures you’re carving out time to write without cutting into the time you may need for other tasks.
3. Find what inspires you
No matter what your topic is, engaging with your creativity will help you stay motivated and excited to sit down and write. Sometimes our creativity and productivity need a little boost. Listening to music is a great way to help you channel a certain tone into your work. Go ahead, put your headphones in and zone out! Some people love classical music, since songs with lyrics can be distracting, but listening to music that aligns with your topic can help you evoke that same tone in your writing. For example, listening to emotional music can help you find the right tone for your upcoming fundraising video, while listening to upbeat music might help you maintain an excited tone for your product video.
If you’re more visual, then perhaps an art or vision board will help re-spark interest in your topic. Even something as simple as looking back at source material can keep you on track, while reminding you what intrigued you about your topic in the first place. Maybe you’re writing for a documentary and feeling stuck; go back to your original source of inspiration for the project and see if there are any areas that you haven’t covered yet, or that you forgot about.
Many writers find reading to be a major source of inspiration, especially if you have a favorite author or a beloved collection of quotes. Reading another writer’s work often helps get the wheels turning; these can act as a prompt for you to respond to, inspire you to take a different approach, or explore other writing techniques outside your comfort zone. Be careful not to let these “inspirations” become a distraction or an excuse not to write, but rather allow them to recharge your creativity and motivate you to get to work!
Put your personal phone on silent, or if you're braver still, turn it off. Yes, I mean completely. Minimize the tab with your emails; you don't want to keep jumping back and forth between the two tasks. This is all about minimizing distractions so that you can focus. If you're worried about not responding in a timely fashion, my suggestion is to make sure you’re prioritizing. This script doesn’t have to take priority over your other tasks, but keep in mind if by carving out an hour to work on your script, you will be able to focus more intently on your other tasks when the time comes. Perhaps you know a certain time of day where emails or calls are slower for you; make a point to use that time to the fullest.
If Facebook or other social media sites are your downfall, there are websites and apps such as SelfControl that allow you to put a temporary block on distracting websites. Other resources can be found here. Use these sites to your advantage!
Sometimes the simplest answer is the best. If you're easily distracted, take some time to block out those outside distractions like conversations at the water cooler, or checking your phone every 5 minutes. If closing your door isn’t an option, try noise-reducing headphones. This is all about knowing what works for you, so that you can be as efficient and productive as possible.
5. Don’t overthink it
Writing should be fun, and, hopefully with some of these tips, it will be! If you’re feeling stuck or unsure where to take your script next, you can always look at samples online, or reach out and have a second set of eyes look over your work. You know your topic best, so all the materials you need to craft a script are available to you!
If you’re interested in learning more, you can also check out this article by Jeff Goins, which goes in depth to discuss writer’s block, as well as offer additional strategies to fight it off.