Good-bye 2012

I’m sitting watching the snow fall on the city streets in front of my laptop. This is my final post of 2012 so I thought I would take a moment and look back at what I’ve done this year. I wrote a book this year. Earlier this week I pulled together all 12 chapters of the Screenwriting Workshop as well as a number of workshop general posts into a single document. I was impressed when I discovered that all of my writing came to 133 pages. That’s a book. As I started to read parts of my book I discovered it wasn’t a very well written book, but thus is the joys of a first draft.

For those of us who has always wanted to write a book why not do it the same way I did with the workshop. I wrote one chapter each month. Maybe even two chapters a month would work. This way you can focus on just that chapter or two for the entire month and by the end of the year you will have a 12 to 24 chapter book to show for your efforts. Doing things in small bites is always a great way to get a task done. In January I’m going to rewrite the first chapter of the Workshop. Not only do I want to improve the quality of the writing I want to improve the quality of the material.

What do you plan to write in 2013? I’m looking at the workshop’s rewrite as well as a screenplay. There’s a tiny little piece of me that really wants to write a novel of some sort but I keep telling that piece that I’m busy with other writing projects and will consider a novel in a couple of years. Or should I consider writing one in 2013? One of the big differences of the screenplay vs the novel is what happens after it’s written. While I have completed nearly a dozen different screenplays in over 25 years of writing not one has ever been produced. I’ve written far fewer short stories (and no novels) but I have a short story published in a local anthology book, “Gathered Streams“. A novelist has far more options to share their work with the world than a screenwriter.

The goal of any artist is to share their work with the world, isn’t it? Maybe that’s why I write this very blog – to share my thoughts and writing with others. It’s probably why you write as well. Within my local Canadian Authors Association branch there are a number of authors who have novellas as well as novels and short story anthologies published. They were all published by different means. Most were published by local, small publishing houses where two were published using self-publisher, iUniverse. There’s no need to chase after the huge publishing houses. With Apple’s iBooks Author application you can publish your book directly to their iBookstore without the need for a publisher.

The plan for the workshop is to publish it as an eBook, however I often find myself wondering if anyone would buy a screenwriting book from a writer who has yet to sell a screenplay? There was a story in the late summer of a student who was very upset when he discovered that his professional screenwriting professor had never sold a screenplay. That’s the situation my readers would find themselves in. Many new screenwriters have trouble understanding that you can write screenplays your entire life and never sell one. It’s the hazard of the job. As much as I enjoy screenwriting and talking about the screenwriting process, I will never make money doing it professionally. I’m going to be 43 years old in a week I just don’t think I fit in with today’s movie makers. They’re all young and have been holding cameras since they were 5 years old. I didn’t use my first video camera until I was 17 years old. My friends and I produced a couple of interesting films in high school and shortly thereafter such as Southern Justice and Mr. Phil but neither would ever make the festival circuit. Our abridged version of The Death of a Salesman earned us a mark of 100% in our grade 11 English class.

My best writing came from my high school days. I wrote screenplays in less than a week and short stories were being written nearly every couple of days. At one point I was taking three different English classes and all I was doing was writing. Then after high school there was little time for writing as I had to focus on finding a job. Once that was taken care off (I’m still at that job, 22 years later) I started to write again when a friend of my suggested we do monthly writing challenges. Each month we came up with a new writing prompt and we would each go off and write. At the end of the month we returned and read each others work and discussed it before determining our next prompt. A lot of people prefer to write with a deadline. I think that’s how I was able to complete the workshop in 2012 because I gave myself a deadline of a month for each chapter.

Speaking of writing prompts, writersdigest.com has a great prompt this week. “At exactly midnight on New Year’s Eve you receive an email labeled “Open Immediately.” The really strange thing is that the email is apparently from your future self. What does it say?” I enjoy the idea of time travel stories. My story that was published in “Gathered Streams” was a time travel story. I might spend a few hours with this writing prompt in my head and see what I might write. What do you think your future self would tell you? Would you try to fix past regrets? Would you try to pass back information to help yourself become rich or successful? Would you tell yourself to get off your butt and write?

I use the software One Note as a journal and I recently sat down and reviewed what I had written this time last year. I spoke about the beginning of the workshop project and that I hoped that I would remained focused and get it completed in 2012. I’m glad to see that I did finish that on time as planned. It’s good to look back on a year just ending and determine if it was a successful year or not. I think 2012 has been a very successful year for myself personally. Hopefully 2013 continues to be successful, but remember it’s only as successful as you make it so get out there and write.

– Steve

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2 responses to “Good-bye 2012

  1. First time reader, first time commenter, here. You pondered, “The plan for the workshop is to publish it as an eBook, however I often find myself wondering if anyone would buy a screenwriting book from a writer who has yet to sell a screenplay?”
    My personal answer to this question is a resounding “No.” As a screenwriter, I naturally own some screenwriting books, but at this stage, I always check credentials before even thinking about buying such a book. Of course, I’m typically skeptical of so-called-experts anyway, like the saying, “those who can’t, teach.” Though, I could understand that someone might be better at teaching than actually doing something. However, if you can’t do it yourself, why would I be convinced that you’d have any clue as to tell someone else how to do it? I once read or heard somewhere that it takes the writing of about ten screenplays before you truly learn the craft. I agree. And, I agree from personal experience, because it took me a lot of trial and error, wrongturns and backtracks before arriving at the point I’m now at – which is that I can craft a solid script nowadays.

    • Welcome to my blog irscriptwriter. I understand what you’re saying in your comments. While I’ve been writing screenplays since I was just 14 years old, and I have written (and completed over a dozen) I’ve done it just as a hobby. I’ve taken screenwriting classes and like yourself I’ve read many screenplay how to books. Right now I’m enjoying the learning process. The studying of script and film to fully understand the methods of storytelling seems to be my hobby at the moment. We each get what we can from what we read. Look at some of the crap on the screens these days. No one has an original idea any more in Hollywood. I wouldn’t want to learn screenwriting from any of them. Sometimes it’s the writer out of left field who surprises the world with a great screenplay. Someone no one would have expected. They just have to step forward and say – my writing is good enough. My writing can sell. The only one stopping me is me.

      Thanks for your comments and have a very happy and successful 2012.

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