Where to Shove That Apple, and Other Practical Tips for Screenwriters

Don't you just get the overwhelming need to commit unspeakable acts of violence when someone offers you unsolicited advice, particularly when that advice comes in the form of a cheesy proverb?

An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Sure it does. If you shove that apple far enough up the doctor's ass, he's unlikely to come anywhere near you for a very long time -- unless he's into that sort of thing. But WTF does this have to do with writing?

The point is, this painfully true-to-life example of lazy dialogue, is a simple coping mechanism used by people outside of the industry when they are confronted with something well beyond their comfort zone and have absolutely nothing of value to say. Like, say, when you tell them you're a screenwriter.

Now that's a conversation stopper. And what does the average person do when confronted by the unknown? They devolve into a fight or flight mentality. But running away from a casual conversation is a societal no-no, so the brain spits out a knee jerk attack in the form of well-meaning platitudes gems of wisdom. Don't believe me?

How many times have you heard, "Don't quit your day job?" If the answer is never, you're not a screenwriter.

Don't take it personally. It happens to every type of artist, especially early in their career. It's nature's way of making sure that only a small number of the species escape the cubicle life.

Still, hearing that one in the hand is better than two in the bush is enough to drive any writer batshit, so here for your sanity pleasure are some real life practical tips you can actually use while giving the finger to the idiot spouting proverbs out of his ass.

1) DO quit your day job.

It will make you hungry and desperate. Two qualities every writer needs. But if you absolutely have to get a job because, say, you have twenty-six little mouths to feed or you're paying off that undisclosed settlement you can't legally talk about, at least get one where they don't mind if you slack off and work on your craft while you do it. Something like a night watchman or a parking lot attendant or an air traffic controller would be perfect.

2) DO put all your eggs in one basket.

With every single script. Don't hold back. Write every script like it's THE ONE.

3) DO bite off more than you can chew.

Yeah, you very likely will die a horrible choking death, but you might just rise to the challenge.

4) If it ain't broke, make it better.

'nuff said on that one.

5) Absolutely leap before you look.

You might just fly, or at least land somewhere very unexpected.

6) Forget about minding your Ps and Qs.

Well, when you're typing you should mind them, but no writer ever got anywhere worrying about being politically correct.

7) DO forget to say your prayers.

The gods of screenwriting prefer live human sacrifices. Daily.

8) DO get hairy palms from playing with it over and over.

No first draft is perfect. Good writing is all in the rewrites. And hairy palms will keep you warm after you quit your day job and the gas company turns off your heat.

Fantastic image by FotoRita