How To Write

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


No, seriously how do you write? That's what I'm hoping to find out.

Right out of college when I had a bit more time on my hands (and a lot more confidence in my head) I ordered every book I could find on screenwriting. I read about ten in a couple of months and tried to teach myself everything there was to know about writing a script. And then I sat down and I wrote.

I wrote two full (AWFUL like silly awful) screenplays and I felt triumphant and was like "okay, I'm done, now who wants the privilege of turning my wonderful idea into a movie starring ME?"

Much to my surprise, no one offered. So then I stopped and life happened and everything else in between.

Three years later, I've got the itch again. And here's what I've realized about my first try at writing, even though my first "screenplays" (using that word lightly here) were painfully bad, at least I finished something. I've had some trouble with that lately, like a lot of trouble.

So in an attempt to keep myself accountable, I'm working with an instructor from The Second City to learn the art of screenwriting. And I can't tell you how much I am enjoying it. In all honestly, I love anything that feels like school. What I wouldn't give to go back to those college years spent in Andrew Hall discussing literature with my hippy loving English professors. I just didn't appreciate it then like I would now. It's such a shame that college years are wasted on college students.

But I digress.

The point is I'm trying again. I'm a little more realistic this time around and understand that everyone has at least five screenplays they're working on in their back pocket. But who cares, how does that apply to me?  I'm just trying to write something I'm proud of and can keep around as a writing sample. Or I can set it out on my coffee table and insist that EVERYONE who enters my house read it before they leave. Wouldn't that be fun.

Returning to this form of writing hasn't been easy. I sat down yesterday and it took me nearly four hours to write two pages. TWO. All of my old negative voices I haven't heard from in a while made sure to stop by to be certain that I second guessed every single line I wrote down.

Really, you're going to use that line? That sounds awful. That's not how you do this. WHY are you even doing this? You realize this is one big waste of time. This sounds like a child wrote it. This is so bad it's funny to me. Just go take a nap. Eat some chips. Clean the wall. Do anything but write this piece of shit. You're terrible at everything. Ext and so forth. I like to think these voices keep me grounded.

And now I'm going to show you where all of the writing magic goes down. And by "magic" I mostly mean crying.

It all happens in my home office. Home office = this tiny space in my living room where the wall was just big enough to fit a desk.




The Hustle notebook can be found here.  And even though the page you see is blank, I immediately filled it out and hustled the hell out of it. I'm slowly learning how to live my life via a to-do list, it's a work in progress. It's on my to-do list.

And hanging above it all is a signed poster by one of my favorite screenwriters and directors and fellow Nebraskan, Mr. Alexander Payne. I hang it here for inspiration. It hasn't given me any yet, but I keep hoping. And at the very least I get to stare at Bruce Dern's dreamy profile!



And now I have to write 8 more pages before my next class today at 3:00 p.m. It took me 7 days to write 2 pages, so, so I'm feeling really good about the task ahead of me.

Hustle. Hustle. Hustle.

It's what I do best, just look at all of the small trophies I won in basketball that say "Most Hustle Award" from years 2003-2005. They don't give those out to just anyone.

What's your writing style? How do you get "the creative juices flowing?"

34 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Believe it or not, it's from Urban Outfitter!

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  2. love your desk area. How comfy and cozy. I remember having to write papers for school and it drove me crazy because i was such a procrastinator. I'm sure you'll do great on your paper.

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  3. I sincerely think the hardest thing is just starting. the blank pages stares down at you menacingly. so the fact that you're tackling that is everything. plus your desk is awesome. can you come make mine pretty?

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  4. I write a stream of consciousness and then edit later. Spitting out everything I want to say in a conversational tone is the only way I feel comfortable writing. I also work really well with impending deadlines, so my best work always comes out at the last minute. While writing all my papers right before they were due came off as irresponsible in college, looking back I think I actually really knew myself and what I needed. Anyway, I guess my point is if I was looking at a blank screen, I would probably just walk away until a blank screen wasn't an option. Adrenaline was my way of getting the creative juices flown'.

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  5. Honestly, it's just a matter of sitting down and making myself write and write often. I have 1 book published and 2 in the works and when I get out of the habit of writing every day, writing gets harder. But once I'm back in the habit of writing, it gets easier. It took me an hour to write one page on the first day, but two weeks later I can write over ten in an hour. Oh, and reminding yourself that when you do sit down to edit when you're all done, you have to be brutal on yourself.

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  6. I admire anyone who can start and finish a screenplay, let along 2 screenplays! My brother got the screenwriting gene in our family. I love your hustle planner by the way :)

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  7. Taylor I just fell down the rabbit hole of reading a bunch of your old posts from 2011 and I was trying to hold my breath and cover my mouth so I wasn't laughing out loud in my office. I feel like you could write just about the funniest damn movie about being a young 20-something trying to figure out "the real world" aka working shitty jobs, trying to live the college dream a little longer, and making it in the big city. I would watch that movie and it'd probably be the next Mean Girls in terms of having the best quotes. Write it!

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    1. Omg Shireen, I got a little nervous when I started reading your comment bc some of my old posts are a little less than "PC" eeek.. and they're not edited. Or filtered at all... So thank you for this nice comment never the less.

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  8. Well your writing on this here blog is fabulous, so if that's any indication, you'll do great! :) Love your desk!

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  9. I am currently working on my senior portfolio, and I'm a little stressed about it. It's easier for me to sit down and write a blog, but as I'm in the 2nd draft stage, I'm a little annoyed at myself because I can't get up the courage to sit down and write. It doesn't help the fact that my creative corner has turned into a junk storage. I usually write by throwing up on the page. Literally. Just kidding - only if I've had too much to drink, and I never want to get to that point while I'm writing or otherwise. But I just write all my thoughts out then go back and weed out the unimportant ones. But it's hard, because the negative voices in our own head and even from our future audience can dampen our desires to truly write what we want. All that being said, I bet your screenplays are hilarious because your blog is hilarious. I would totally watch a show you wrote.

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  10. Nebraska was one of my FAVORITE movies last year. Alexander Payne is a genius and that poster is awesome!

    I'm sure his genius will rub off on you soon :D Your space looks comfy & inspiring!

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  11. Love the "home office!" Looks a great creative space (read: I'm jealous, haha). Good luck with your writing!

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  12. Your office space is so cute, I love daydreaming about the day I can afford a big enough apartment to have an actual office and then pretending I can decorate it. As for the writing it sounds like you are creating something wonderful and I agree (anything that feels like school is a lot of fun).

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  13. look at your super cute desk space! congratulations on getting back into screenwriting and LOVE that you're working with someone to keep up your accountability! i found that that's part of my challenge too, no one really knows if i don't do anything except me (and i'm a big fan of chips and cleaning the way than actually doing work). that self-talk is powerful stuff...

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  14. When I write a blog post, I just sit and let the words come to me, although at times I will be out and think of something I want to write about and will grap some paper and a pen and jot down my thoughts, most of the time I have no problem with thinking what to write about there is no secret to it but if you have read my blog you will no my secret..................I am not a writer.................shh don't tell anyone

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  15. A-College English classes were my favorite and I would be a professional college student reading big books and writing big papers for the rest of my life if life would allow it.
    B-If Liza Minnelli's furry, white jacket/blanket doesn't get the creative juices flowing, then I just don't know what will. Why does that remind me of Liza? I have no idea. Clearly my writing style is called verbal vomit on the paper.
    C-Those stupid damn voices talk to me all of the time about my stupid little blog that no one reads. Why do we listen to them? The sign on your desk says believe. Believe it'll happen for you. Believe you are taking the steps to get where you want to be. Believe your talents will grow and you will fine tune them and succeed. Because what's cool about you is that you don't just dream while you sleep. You dream wide awake and then you take the steps (improv classes, open mic nights, hosting, screenplay writing classes) to make it happen. That says volumes about you. (Hi, my name is DeNae, and in my free time I like to write inspirational speeches on people's blog comments. Weirdo!)

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  16. Oh, I’m so in love with your blog! So beautiful photos and interesting posts!
    Will be happy to see you in my blog!

    Diana Cloudlet
    http://www.dianacloudlet.com/

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  17. My best suggestion would be to not overthink as you're writing - just write the stupid, cheesy dialogue and know that you can fix it during editing - bc writing the stupid, cheesy dialogue will pave the way to the really great stuff!

    Good luck!!!

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  18. You're 'voices' sound just like mine, singing "You suck at this" over and over again… they're so mean :(

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  19. I would LOVE to try my hand at writing a screenplay ( or a play.. .OR A MUSICAL!) but all I've ever done is novels. Which is awesome - but they're two totally different styles I feel like. I wouldn't even know where to begin! Any recommendations with the many books you've read on the subject? I'd love to take a class or something, but right now that's just not in the cards for me. :(

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  20. Nebraska is one of the best movies I've seen in ages. The cemetery scene oh god it's a wonderful scene. I worked on promoting it so I saw it about 10 times and it never got old. But I digress good luck on writing your screenplay! Finding that motivation and discovering the tools that can make it work are often the hardest steps and you've got those down!

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  21. The thing is, you just have to write. Turn off that inner editor and just write as much as you can as fast as you can. The editing/revising stage is where you can go back and tell yourself if something is working or it isn't.

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  22. I actually love your home office! Have fun writing girlie you will do great!

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