How can you write your screenplay in 12 days?
At the start of May, I set myself a challenge to write a script in 18 days.
Spoilers I did it in 12.
In this post, I’ll break it down for you. I’ll share some of the techniques with you.
Hopefully, you’ll be able to to find something useful that will help you write a screenplay in 12 days.
10 tips for writing your screenplay in 12 days
In case you don’t want to read this post, check out this video:
Tip 1: Write first thing in the morning
Now some of you may find this more straightforward than others.
I’m a night owl, so this took a bit of adjustment.
As soon as I got up, I went straight to my computer and wrote.
I would write in 25-minute chunks. What I would do is set a timer on my phone. Once the 25 minutes was up, I would stop writing. I’d take a break then do another 25-minute chunk.
Now here is where I fall down and where you can improve over me. I struggle when it comes to jumping back in.
What do I mean by that?
As in if I was more strict on my breaks I’d get so much more done, my break timer is set for 10 minutes however in the interest of transparency I would take longer on my break.
Tip 2: Log your word count
I’d log how many words I wrote.
It would take me about 4×25 minute chunks per day. If I did that, I would be able to hit my daily word count.
It’s essential to track your progress. Now I used to resist measuring my progress for the longest time. What a regret. Why? Because in the end, it has helped me write more words in a shorter space of time.
One of the great benefits is that you can work out roughly when you will have something done. You will know where you can push and challenge yourself.
Tip 3: Set a deadline
Set yourself a deadline. It has to be a deadline you know you can hit.
The deadline also had to challenge me. It wasn’t like, write a screenplay in one day. There’s no way I would be able to do that. I’d not hit my target, and it would frustrate me. I know what my capabilities are rough.
What’s the point of setting yourself up for failure?
Setting myself an impossible deadline wouldn’t help anyone.
At the same time, setting it for this time next year wouldn’t help either.
It would have to be realistic but challenging at the same time.
Even though I got the script completed within 12 days, I set myself an initial deadline for 18 days.
That was at the start of May. In total, I had to do 35,000 words. I set myself a word count of 20,000 words for the script itself.
The 5k and 10k were there just to help with the actual writing of the script itself.
Tip 4: Be Accountable
One thing that will help you write your script is being accountable. You know, state it in public that you are going to have the first draft of a screenplay completed by a specific date.
I’m a member of a few screenwriting groups on Facebook. One of the groups had a signup sheet. I put my name down, the name of the script and the date I would have it finished.
If you aren’t a member of any Facebook groups, you can put it somewhere public. Tell people about it somehow. Set up a twitter account and tweet your intention.
It’s important you know there is evidence somewhere of you making a commitment. Making a commitment to writing your screenplay.
Tip 5: Be aware of your weakness
When you’re writing a script, it’s vital to know where you’re going to slow down. There will be points when you will want to quit and give up.
Now if this is your first screenplay, you might be unaware of where is your quitting point.
For me, it’s precisely at the midpoint.
As I was writing as soon as I got close to page 60, there were those feelings.
Feelings of worthlessness and thinking I was rubbish.
Do you ever get those feelings?
Since I knew I was going to feel like this, I factored that into my deadline. And if you can work out where you slow down, then you can allow yourself a day off.
Tip 6: Long walks deep forests
Taking really long walks helped me immeasurably.
After I completed the writing for the day, I would take a two-hour-long walk.
I would leave my phone at home.
In fact, I left everything except for the key to the front door.
The intent was to forget about the script until the next day. At the same time, tire out my body.
I’m fortunate enough to be able to go to a nearby forest. I would walk deep in there, taking in the surroundings.
If you can take advantage of a walk in nature, do so, your brain and body will thank you.
Tip 7: Harness the power of affirmations
Now, this is probably the weirdest tip on the list. You can use it in conjunction with your long walks.
Now if you think I’m a weirdo,
A) You’re right.
B) I understand.
If you want to completely disregard this point, I totally understand.
You can use the walking time to reprogramme yourself.
Confession, I use affirmations quite a bit.
I would use that time in the woods to talk to myself and basically psych myself up for the next day.
Here’s what I would say to myself. Again I understand this is going to be pretty cringy. But I’m telling you this in the interest of transparency.
OK, here it goes.
So, I will be walking through the woods on my own. Remember, no phone. As I walk I will be chanting to myself, a kind of song,
“I am the greatest writer,
I am fit,
I can achieve anything when I put my mind to it”.
That makes me feel really dumb sharing that with you, but there you go. The internet is forever.
Do I believe I am the greatest writer?
I did it to psych myself up. I had to keep telling myself “I’m the greatest writer”. Why? Well because otherwise, what is the point of writing a screenplay?
You have to believe in yourself and affirmations might just be what you need.
Tip 8: Keep going (even if it’s terrible)
Another thing that helped me was to keep ongoing. I kept pushing forward.
If something was bad, I ignored it and moved on.
Now I would make a note in the margin, but I would avoid changing anything in the actual script.
At this point, you are focusing on getting the first draft out there.
You need to be laser-focused on hitting your deadline.
Tip 9: Write now, think later
When I was writing the script, one of the things I wanted to do was reduce the thinking time.
I wanted to get on with the writing.
To cut down on thinking time, I had the screenplay all planned out. Bad Guys began as a 125-word synopsis. I would expand on that synopsis until I had 10k words.
The 10k words would act as a way to guide me through my own script.
Here in the synopsis stage, you can go nuts with thinking. Character backgrounds, world setting, you name it, go wild.
Go wild in the thinking phase because when you’re in screenplay mode, it is all about writing.
Tip 10: Write what you love
This one might feel a little obvious to some of you, but this is something I have learned recently.
Are you ready for this one?
You have to want to write the script.
You have to love writing this script. It has to get you fired up.
Briefly a bit about me: ten years ago I made a film called Deadville.
You might be thinking that I’ve been lazy ever since. That is far from the truth. I’ve been trying to make another film ever since.
I’ve been writing scripts that I feel like I should be writing. Scripts that I feel like they would be “right” for me to write.
At the same time, I have this other folder of fun scripts. Scripts that I would make if I things were perfect.
Let’s be real. Things will never be perfect.
Why was I waiting for something that would never happen?
So I said to myself: Kieran, write something you really want to write.
What a difference it made for me. I’m someone who loves to sleep in. Snooze the alarm until it’s comatose.
Well, something strange happened. I was so excited to work on this script a couple of days in I found myself beating the alarm.
The alarm tried to snooze me. You know what I mean?
But for the first time in a while, I was wide awake and working away.
Before I knew it, I had a screenplay written in 12 days.
If I can do it you can write your screenplay in 12 days.
There you have it. Those are my tips for what you can do to write your screenplay in 12 days.
What can you do now?
One thing you’ll find as well once you finish it is that you’re a much better writer than you give yourself credit for.
All the best, good luck with your script I’m excited to hear about what you can achieve.