Insane Writing Tips For Badass Writers

I've ignored this blog for well over a year, and suddenly it's getting more traffic than a two-dollar hooker. I was initially worried that someone had hacked into my account and had uploaded harsh porn, but no such luck after some investigation, it turns out the people over at the Academy's Nicholl Fellowship posted a link to my piece about polishing a script.

My first thought was that someone over in the Nicholl office must be having a birthday, and they've all had a few dozen too many. A drunken dare gone horribly wrong goes a long way to explaining why someone at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences would think it's a good idea to link to me. I mean, who in their right mind would think I have anything valuable to say?! I'm a writer, for God sakes. None of us know what the hell we're talking about.

My second thought was, "Cool!!!," quickly followed by my third thought, "Oh shit, a bunch of hopeful Nicholl entrants are coming here looking for nuggets of wisdom, so I better write a new post that sounds halfway intelligent."

I fought off the urge to have substance induced meaningless sex and forget about this blog all over again, and instead turned my attention to what bullshit wisdom I could possibly offer. My post about polishing was pretty damn accurate, albeit R rated, so in some twisted way, I get why they linked to it.

It's that time of year where screenwriters worldwide, and half the population of California, put the finishing touches on their scripts and send them off hoping to land one of the five coveted Fellowships. Typos are lovingly corrected; word choices are fine tuned to sing like angels of God. Loved ones embrace their pet screenwriters for the first time in months as they emerge from their caves in desperate need of a shower, pages in hand, glowing from victory. Yes, it's time to polish.

What more could I add? It's time to send your baby out into the world to see what will happen. Will it thrive on its own or will it get hit by a car and die a horrible roadkill death? - And I've already written about that. I could write about how doing nothing but waiting for the results is the wrong thing to do. Write another script, damn it, and forget about the results that are still months away - but telling someone they're an idiot if they don't keep writing doesn't take up any space at all.

No, addressing all those hopeful entrants who have slaved away for almost a year is a waste of space. They're as ready as they're going to be, and all I can say is good luck, godspeed, break a leg, and all that stuff.

With the deadline only 50 some odd days away, there is really only one thing I can write about that will be of any help to anyone at all, so I decided to direct this post to those few crazy mofos writers who aren't yet in the polishing stage, who may not even be in the rewrite stage, who may not have even typed FADE IN yet. What advice could I give to them?

You're screwed buddy. Don't give up.

Is it humanly possible to write a script by the deadline that's good enough to be a contender?


I knew a guy who shall remain nameless unless he chooses to out himself. This guy sent me the first thirty pages of his script for notes the day before the 2010 deadline. Where were the rest of the pages?! He hadn't written them yet. This guy worked like a son of a bitch, and it didn't look like he would make it. By some miracle, a computer gremlin screwed with the Academy matrix and their computer system went down... and the deadline was extended by one day. And the guy?! He pulled pages out of his ass, and by God, he finished it.

Now you want to know how he managed to do it. I don't have a clue. It was remarkable. A thing of legend.

And the kicker... the script made the quarterfinals.

I don't recommend trying this at home. This guy had mad skills and a few loose screws. For every savant who can do this, there are a thousand who would churn out garbage under the same circumstances. But this guy had less than three days. If you're reading this soon after I post, you still have well over fifty. It's totally doable. Go read my posts about characters and concepts and other good stuff, and write your ass off, then read the rewrite and polishing stuff, and DO IT.

If you're truly committed, say goodbye to your life for the next couple of months, kiss your kids goodbye, kiss your hygiene goodbye, kiss sleep goodbye, find a few takeout places that deliver a nice variety of cheap pizza, Chinese, and donuts (donuts are KEY!), then sit your ass down and do it. Don't stop to second-guess, or to get your friends to read, or to check your mail and play a quick round of Angry Birds, or because you need to take a dump. Just get it done.

You wanna be a pro one day, right?! Pros laugh at deadlines like this, then bend them over and make them their bitch. Just get it done.

Oh, and that guy? He's now repped and working on gigs and assignments all over town.

Get it done. And save me a donut.

March 10 UPDATE:  This was getting lost in the comments, and it so shouldn't get lost:

So that crazy badass guy who pulled brilliant pages out of his ass in two days?! He gave me the the okay to out him. Mr Ryan Jackson, take a virtual bow. If you want to bask in the glory of his mad skills, check out his blog.

Great image by Thomas Hawk