Wednesday, March 20, 2013

21 Days to Writer's Fitness

They say it takes 21 days to make--or break--a habit, and after 21 days of inspiration from Leigh Medeiros and Silver Wings Scripts, I can happily say it's true. Leigh is (amongst other creative accomplishments) the creator of "Screenwriter Shape-up", a 21-day program designed to turn your screenwriting wishes (I wish I had more time/ I wish I could follow through with my ideas/I wish I could write every day...) into established realities.

The version of Screenwriter Shape-Up I took started on February 11 and lasted until March 3. The mission was simple: write down a series of do-able goals for the full 21 days and then...well, do them! My goals this time around were fairly straightforward: to write a 1-page treatment of my most recent screenplay idea--a supernatural thriller--followed by a 2-page treatment, and then to outline my various scenes. But after a week into the program, I found the goal-setting was just the beginning of something much deeper . For instance, there was:
  • Discipline! As much as I'm intrigued by screenwriting, far too often it ends up on the back burner, especially when I'm working on a novel or even this blog. But now I've learned to carve out a dedicated screenwriting hour for myself every day. And you know what? That one little hour is  helping all my other writing as well.
  • Discovering that 21 days goes fast--and it's the perfect time frame for any kind of deadline or project in the future. The 30 days assigned to the more well-known writing marathons such as Nanowrimo or Scriptfrenzy can seem overwhelming, especially to new writers. 21 days is short and sweet.
  • I met so many nice new people--wow, there are some great and friendly writers out there.
  • I finally grasped how to use Facebook. This might not sound that amazing to my Internet-savvy friends, but Facebook has always been difficult for me to use. Being part of the discussion groups helped me to see the value of the site and fearlessly join in.
  • Working every day toward my goals allowed me to  accomplish them, and more--I now have a complete screenplay outline. Current goal: a complete first draft.
  • I learned I could use the 21-day plan for other projects, too. For instance, how about 21 days just for art journaling, 21 days for editing, or 21 days to write 21 poems? This could be a good schedule for all those spaces between various manuscript drafts awaiting revision and rewrites.
  • Best of all, now that the 21 days are up and I find myself lodged in my new screenwriting habit, I feel I can truly call myself a screenwriter. In the past I used to consider myself more of a screen-dabbler, a person who liked to play around with screenplays but never thought anything I wrote was worthy of entering into a competition or receiving serious consideration. No more! I love my current project and hope to have it contest-ready by next year.
So as you can see, my goals led me to some pretty good places. Which doesn't mean I can rest on my laurels. A writing habit means that once again it's time to stretch those fingers, lift those pens, and start writing. After all, they don't call them "exercise books" for nothing!

Tip of the Day: Set up your own 21-day program for a project you've always wanted to work on but have delayed for some reason. Choose "start" and "finish" dates that will help, not hinder you, assign yourself an achievable goal or two, and go for it!


Anonymous said...

What a fantastic post! Thrilled to the core that Screenwriter Shape-Up was so beneficial to you. I really enjoyed our journey together, and was/am inspired by your willingness to dive in and get disciplined. Here's to more writing journeys together in the future!


Sue Blazier said...

Thanks for writing about your experience here. I am inspired and signed up for the Shape-Up beginning June 17th. Here's to 21 days! Sue