As screenwriters, it’s always so frustrating when our wellsprings of ideas and creativity dry up, leaving us with nothing more than an unfinished scene, an unrealistic character, or even worse, a blank page. There are a lot of great ideas floating around out there in books, videos, and websites — I know I’ve added listening to music, watching films, and reading my screenplays aloud to my arsenal. But, I’ve compiled my own list of methods, some pretty unconventional, that are more or less surefire ways to kickstart my creativity and avoid those dreaded screenwriting dry spells.
When you haven’t the words to write, don’t write words. Open up your writing program of choice and just start writing anything and everything that comes to mind without stopping, correcting, or deleting/erasing. It sounds dumb, because the first page or two is going to be pretty much useless (I’ve written a half of page of “j’s” before,) but eventually you will start writing some amazing things.
Need an example? Here you go:
I’m just free writing to show you guys what it’s all about. I just love writing stuff, and I’m sure you do too. It’s like a fountain of thought is just pouring out of my head — well actually that’s not completely accurate, because my hands are doing a lot of the work. Where’s the love for the hands? They work so hard to get my thoughts on the page, and my brain gets all the credit. Brains are jerks. Hands are such unsung heroes — whatever happened to Eddie Vedder — his hair in the Jeremy video was just excellent. I had that hair when I was 17 and I really truly thought I was cool. Seriously — I really did.
Get a journal and make it your own
This isn’t a new (or unusual) idea, but it’s the thing that helped me the most as a screenwriter. Since we’ve all probably kept journals at one time or another and know how to use them, I’ll just say this: just make it your own. When I first started keeping my journal for my latest script, the first 10 or so pages are complete crap. They’re full of very carefully organized notes, quotes from books, bullet points, and musings that seemed to be written for someone else other than myself.
No! Be yourself while inside your journal. After I had this realization I filled the pages with drawings, meandering thoughts about story structure, and even dedicated an entire page to explaining how pretty I think Marion Cotillard is.