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How To Become A Screenwriter In One Day

The #1 Psychological Mind Shift You MUST Make If You Want To Break Into The Industry



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December 20, 2016 21 comments
how to become a screenwriter

If you want to know how to become a screenwriter, it’s actually quite simple and can be achieved in just one day.

It’s a fundamental element that separates the aspiring screenwriters who turn pro from those who don’t. And all it requires is making one psychological mind-shift…

Make the decision to become a screenwriter.

The story behind how Blake Snyder, author of the Save the Cat screenwriting books, broke into the industry is a great example of this mind-shift.

In 1989, Snyder had been trying to break into Hollywood for seven years. He was thirty-one, broke, and with only a few minor writing credits to his name. His girlfriend suggested going into teaching so as to have something to fall back on. But to Blake, this felt like the beginning of a slippery slope to never becoming a screenwriter.

So, he decided to make a change.. He made the decision to become a screenwriter. He set himself goals. He kept office hours with his writing: Monday to Friday, 9 to 5.

In other words, he finally took it seriously and decided that if he wanted to become a writer, he had to put in as much work as all the other aspiring screenwriters out there who were putting in seven or eight hours a day. And that’s when things started to turn around for him.

how to become a screenwriter

Another great example can be found in Michael Arndt’s (Toy Story 3) breaking-in story. He was working as Matthew Broderick’s assistant, reading scripts every day and getting depressed because he wasn’t writing as much as he’d like.

So, he decided to make a change…

He saved up enough money to survive on for a year. Then he quit his job with Broderick and dedicated himself to writing. Like Synder, he kept office hours and wrote every day. By the end of the year he’d written seven screenplays, one of which was called Little Miss Sunshine.

While all this may sound simplistic, if you are to have any chance of making it a reality, it is VERY important that you actually make the decision to become a screenwriter.

How to become a screenwriter

How To Become A Screenwriter: A Super Practical Tip

The most important thing you need to do right away if you want to get a handle on this screenwriting thang is to write. EVERY DAY. We’re not saying you have to quit your day job and rent an office, but here’s how you can make writing every day easier:

1. Go buy a calendar and a big fat red marker pen.

2. Put the calendar up somewhere conspicuous, like above your computer.

3. Put a big red cross through every day that you write.

4. Make a commitment not to break the chain of crosses.

Even if on some days you only write for ten minutes, it all counts. You’ve written SOMETHING. It’s much easier to commit to writing even for ten minutes than it is for an hour, and you’ll probably find that the ten minutes soon turns into twenty or sixty anyway 🙂

This is a surprisingly powerful tool to get you in the rhythm of writing every day. Stick to it and you’ll be putting yourself at a MAJOR advantage over the vast majority of writers out there.

How To Become A Screenwriter In One Day

how to become a screenwriterThere’s no point making the decision to become a writer if you don’t stick to the plan.

So set goals for yourself, minimum word or page counts to achieve everyday and make sure you stick to them. The calendar trick should help you with this.

At the beginning of the great 1941 movie, Come Live With Me, Jimmy Stewart has a conversation with a hobo on a park bench about this very subject. The hobo’s advice? “Once you’ve made up your mind, you’re in.”

Take that step, and you’ve done the hardest part. You’ve cracked the question of how to become a screenwriter.


Are you struggling with how to become a screenwriter? Have you made a psychological mind-shift to try and achieve this? We’d love to hear all about it in the comments section below.

How to become a screenwriter

  1. Tim Aucoin says:

    Great advice. I’ve been calling myself a screenwriter for years, even though I haven’t actually sold anything. It’s all about belief and hard work.

    1. Good job Tim – that’s the way forward. I always tell people to introduce themselves at a party as a screenwriter rather than a cab driver or whatever 🙂

  2. Dustin says:

    Pleasee keep the advice coming! At this point I can’t afford office hours or schooling, still trying. I am trying to find a job in any media type job, let alone film making etc. Just stuck in a poopy rut.

    1. Keep at it Dustin. If you go for a job in an agency or production company you’ll make so many connections.

  3. prince sinha says:

    I have American spy story movie the Great Achiment in awarpan fav wine jack dainel old no7 in karchi bear bar he drink jack dainel old no7 some isi finally come by samjota express

  4. naman gupta says:

    this is so elemental, it slips often. thanks for taking us back to basics. really appreciate the good spirit!

    1. SRP says:

      Cheers Naman. Yes – the essentials get skipped over sometimes so always good for a refresh!

    2. SRP says:

      Thanks Naman – appreciated.

  5. Scott Koban says:

    Thanks for the reminder. I should not be self-indulgent about not writing each day. Most of the time I do write, on buses, trains, in coffee shops, on the floor, as well as on a desk. Have been writing for years on a project, but sometimes get exhausted from producing scenes from inside me. No complaining though. as I am very fortunate to have a mentor who’s got feature editor and story analyst for Paramount during 30 years, under his belt. Top of the line pro who loves what I’m writing. But I’m human, so some days I get waves of self-doubt and think, these are just words on paper, how can that be of value to anybody? Then I remind myself words can become movies that can change people’s lives…then I think, this guy, with his credentials and in a position of power in Hollywood, is taking me seriousely…so I will too. Calendar goes up today. Thanks again.

    1. SRP says:

      You’re welcome, Scott. Don’t worry, even the greats get plagued by self-doubt. Sounds like you’ve struck gold with your mentor – keep at it!

  6. Kennypoka says:

    As a Nigerian, how can I write a good script to fit into the America setting? I have some short scripts, I wish to get started with that before writing a full feature script.

    1. SRP says:

      Hi there, what’s most important is the story. I guess you could write a short that’s set in LA or wherever, or film it there if you can, but ultimately a short is going to get noticed if it’s good, not because it’s set in the States.

  7. Narayan Sharmah says:

    I have already started the phenomenal process!

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Good luck Narayan!

  8. Petal says:

    Very good information. It makes me feel encouraged. I am currently at university and looking for a job. I want to become a screenwriter but am so busy with studies I don’t even know how to balance the time.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks Petal – it’s tough but you just need to make the time if you want to seriously give screenwriting shot.

  9. John Carey says:

    Study every screenwriting book at your local library. Study the books “Dr. Format Tells All” and “The Screenwriter’s Bible.” Read several scripts that have won Best Screenplay awards. Write every day. Get other screenwriters to trade with you to read each other’s work – such as in a screenwriting workshop. Get seven scripts finished and polished. Allow yourself to write a really awful script, and don’t worry about it being flawed and terrible. Simply get it up to 45-ish pages for a one-hour TV show, or about 95-105 pages for a film script. See if your local college offers screenwriting courses (but, you might learn a whole lot more by studying any 12 screenwriting books and forcing yourself to write a first draft of a script every month). Watch the screenwriting videos on YouTube. But, write every day. Finish scripts. Focus on stuff that film distributors and film financiers would be interested in.

  10. John Hamilton says:

    Great advice! I made a decision (out of the blue) to be a screenwriter and made that switch Dec 3rd, 2017. Since then, I’ve completed 1 crime/thriller, high-concept feature of 83 pages with one more rewrite planned to make it 90+, have 12 more in the works with various genres all in different stages of process, 1 TV sitcom pilot, and a few shorts. By this time next year, I hope to have at least 5-7 completed features, a 1-hour TV pilot and at least 1 short reel all professionally polished and ready for whatever comes. Representation, sales, options and/or writing assignments. I want it all.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      That sounds awesome – keep us posted how you get on, John.

  11. Chibuzor says:

    How to do i get an international agent to work with? I am in Nigeria

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Hi, not sure what you mean by “international agent?”

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