Screenwriting Tricks for Authors

Do you REALLY want to write a book?

It’s that time of year again… Labor Day weekend marks the beginning of fall (autumn, in the UK!). And for a lot of us, fall is optimum writing time.

My natural writing cycles make me most productive in the spring and especially in the fall. It’s no surprise to me that Nanowrimo and Preptober have become almost an industry for hopeful new authors.

If you’ve been interested in writing for any amount of time, you know that Nanowrimo, National Novel Writing Month, is a frenzy of group writing that takes place throughout November, the object being to pump out 50,000 words of writing in a month through peer pressure. I mean, peer support.

And Preptober sprung up in the month of October because people realized (as I’ve been saying as long as I’ve been teaching prep classes) that it makes no sense to jump into a month of wriing if you haven’t laid some solid groundwork first.

These two events take place in the fall, because makes all kinds of sense to take advantage of our ingrained “Back to School” energy.

Plus the kids are back in school, which leaves the rest of us all kinds of time to—

Oh. Wait. Hmm.

No guarantees there, in a pandemic. Especially when some people have some insane idea that it’s their right to infect other people and their children.

So maybe you’re not going to have that time freed up to finally make some progress on your book.

Here’s the thing, though: There’s always something.

You get sick. Someone else gets sick There’s job turmoil. There’s marriage turmoil. There’s a new baby. There’s a new puppy. There’s a new house. There’s something that urgently needs fixing in the old house.

We all have something, all the time. Some people write through it, and some people don’t.

You CAN find the time to write, and you don’t have to do 50,000 words in a month-long frenzy to write a great book. That speed writing, bash-it-through approach works really well for some people, but many more books are written at a slower, steadier pace —and many of those are brilliant and successful.

So yes. Yes you can.

But here’s an honest question.

Do you WANT to write a book?

Do you, really?

Maybe the vast psychic change of the pandemic has realigned your desires, maybe even without you knowing. I’ve been seeing that happen all over the place, in every single profession you could name.

It’s always good thing to check on your reasons, what you really want and why, because the WHY is what drives us. 

So of course I’ll be posting my usual Preptober prompts in October—and I’ve also got a whole online class that you can take in 15-20 minute blocks of time, to really set yourself up for success at Nanowrimo—or to help you write you book at whatever your pace is. That’s all about the HOW of writing.

But we still have time in September to prep for Preptober. And that prep is about being clear about your dream, that vision, you’re committing yourself to.

So my first question is:

WHY are you writing?

A lot of people will say—Money. I’ve heard it over and over, all the years that I’ve been an author:  I just want to make a living with my writing.

Well, yeah, I understand that! What kept me writing for decades was—it was my job. It’s my living. I’ve always shown up for work—I’m responsible that way. And then once I started a book or script, the characters and worlds were soon so real to me that I felt this enormous responsibility to bring them fully into the world. That was a motivator that spanned my entire writing career, through multiple media and genres.

But now I’ve written so much I don’t actually have to write anymore. Not for a lving. But I’m more dedicated than ever, because I’m writing the most fascinating, complicated and satisfying series of my life so far and it is a fabulous place to spent seven or eight hours a day. And more than ever, I feel an enormous responsibility to bring it into the world.

What about you?

Ask yourself WHY, to remind yourself.

Then let’s find that idea that will light you up through a season—or year—of living that book.

– Alex