101 habits of successful screenwriter from Carl Iglesias
101 habits of successful screenwriter from Carl Iglesias

101 habits of successful screenwriter from Carl Iglesias

Carl Iglesias is a screenwriter and sought-after screenwriter and consultant who specializes in the reader’s emotional response to a written page. He is the author of the bestselling books “Writing for Emotional Impact” and “101 Habits of Highly Successful Writers.”

He teaches at UCLA’s Writers’ Program Expansion Program, where he just won the 2010 Outstanding Lecturer Award, Screenwriting Expo, and online at the University of Writers. He also writes a regular craft column for Creative Screenwriting magazine.

  1. be original, develop creative thinking. See familiar things from a different perspective.
    2 Be a good storyteller, you should be able to do it naturally.
  2. feel comfortable being alone. Only in this state will you work – for weeks and months.
  3. Observe the world around you, it is generous with things that can become part of your story.
  4. Know how to collaborate. From the script to the final cut, the story undergoes a lot of changes, and you’d better be ready for that. Filmmaking is a team effort.
  5. Your desire to write should be resilient and inspiring to work with.
  6. Believe that you are talented enough. In the end, all that matters is exactly what you do with your talent.
  7. Be an insatiable reader.
  8. Be in love with the craft.
  9. Be in love with movies.
  10. Being a screenwriter in Hollywood has its drawbacks. Deal with them.
  11. Think about your career, not just your screenplay. You have to develop yourself, not just your ideas.
  12. Determine not only your desires, but also clear goals.
  13. Don’t let insecurity affect your Path.
  14. Don’t stop educating yourself.
  15. Be willing to sacrifice something. Writing takes time, energy, and inspiration that you could have spent…having fun in great company.
  16. Apply high standards of quality to your work.
  17. Find your sources of inspiration. Surround yourself with them.
  18. Don’t worry about finding an idea. Better work on being ready when it comes.
  19. Ask the right questions to get the right answers.
  20. Research information to the best of your ability.
  21. Become a child – spontaneous, ready to play and wonder.
  22. Give yourself to your story. Live it.
  23. Do things that inspire you.
  24. Write down your ideas as often as they come.
  25. Create a story structure.
  26. Think through the story several scenes ahead.
  27. Have a separate space to work in.
  28. Have handy tools for creativity.
  29. Choose the best time to write. One where no one and nothing gets in your way.
  30. Write regularly. As often as you can.
  31. Face the “blank slate.” Some would argue that this is the most “scary” thing about being a writer and writer.
  32. Write to music.
  33. Write in silence.
  34. Do exercise. Physical health is important for normal brain function.
  35. Take breaks and rest. Exhausting yourself is unproductive.
  36. Eat right.
  37. Write in spite of your fears (fear of criticism, lack of talent, insecurity).
  38. Turn off your inner critic.
  39. Focus solely on the task at hand.
  40. Work on more than one project at a time. Switch to another project if there are problems with the current one.
  41. Make sure you are not distracted while working. It’s best to turn off your phone.
  42. Make sure you are not distracted while you are working. It’s best to turn off your phone.
  43. Find guaranteed time to write.
  44. Have a strict work schedule.
  45. Establish a daily quota for the number of pages you write.
  46. Write even when you “can’t write.
  47. Find a balance between your writing and your personal life. A full relationship with people is essential to your understanding of life.
  48. Take your time. Boil your ideas over low heat. But don’t be slow, either, lest the idea boil over.
  49. Let deadlines be your motivators.
  50. Deal with a genre crisis. Enlist your best friend to read the script. Go out for a walk. Acknowledge that you haven’t found the core of your story.
  51. Don’t believe in the existence of a genre crisis.
  52. Write the first, “terrible” draft. Write without stopping, then filter it on a fresh head.
  53. Finish the draft before you rewrite it.
  54. Only move forward if you have finished the current scene.
  55. Make your script as good as it can be. Don’t rush to submit a second draft.
  56. Be interested in the opinions of others. Tell your script to a friend, your mother, a random passerby. But draw your own conclusions!
  57. Be ready for criticism. Listen, but don’t take criticism of the script personally.
  58. Creating a story is not much different from painting. Learn to write well. Your writing style is what makes the story tell.
  59. Understand, finally, what is the merit of great talent and what is the merit of great work. A writer is a person who has a much harder time writing than other people (Thomas Mann).
  60. Trust your instincts. Write about what you’re passionate about, not what you’re good at. What you know about may bore you-as well as your audience.
  61. You have to have a message. Decide what you want to talk to your audience about.
  62. Create a really great story! Your job is to find your way to people’s hearts, not just make your point.
  63. Develop an inner flair for drama and conflict. No conflict, no story.
  64. Raise the stakes. Your hero will only grow if he has something to lose.
  65. Understand and internalize the importance of character building. Every story is a story of character development.
  66. Read your dialogues aloud. Speech is an important part of your character. And the difference between reading a text to yourself and reading it aloud is huge.
  67. Understand who your audience is. A professional writer always writes for the reader, a professional filmmaker always films for the audience.
  68. The number one sin is to be boring. To paraphrase William Gibson, “the first task of the screenwriter is to make sure no one leaves the audience.”
  69. Evoke emotion. Create emotion in the audience and operate with it. Cinema is a big business of delivering emotion.
  70. Understand the Hollywood system. Here the script is essential to the whole industry, but not the screenwriter. Success will come to your work, not to you personally.
  71. Study the movie business. You need to know the key players in the film market, their projects and contacts. Do that when you’re taking a break from your work.
  72. Live in Los Angeles. You can hone your skills anywhere in the world, but it’s still best to show up in the flesh for the meeting and contract.
  73. Contacts and relationships are very important. Knowledgeable people know the facts. Successful and prosperous people know people (John Demartini).
  74. However, the deciding factor is always the quality of your work, not your charm.
  75. Don’t isolate yourself from the world except when you’re writing.
  76. Take every opportunity to make useful contacts and make an impression.
  77. Learn from more successful colleagues, don’t get hung up on your own accomplishments, no matter how great they are.
  78. If you don’t want to sell your script personally, get yourself an agent. A good script will always find an agent, there are no exceptions.
  79. There’s no point in writing query letters. All the textbooks teach that without a query letter you will not sell your script, but in fact they work no better than ordinary spam.
  80. Believe in your work. Decide for yourself that your story is the best of all, and your listeners are extraordinarily lucky, since they managed to find out about it.
  81. Rehearse your pitching speech until it is flawless.
  82. Know your story from every possible angle, so you can tell it without preparation.
  83. Keep your pitch short, simple, and clear.
  84. Do not show nervousness and excitement. You can’t have no fear at all, but you can camouflage it.
  85. Be flexible, adapt to any situation. If your story is inadvertently interrupted, quietly start with the last point.
  86. Don’t be afraid that your ideas will be stolen. Believe me, it is much cheaper to buy a script than to go to court and restore your reputation. In addition, any idea still needs to be developed, and again, you need a good writer.
  87. Do not pitch in front of the producer, meeting him by chance in a restaurant, at a wedding or near the bathroom. The last thing a producer wants at this point is to listen to your idea. However, if you are asked about ready-made stories, it makes sense to tell.
  88. Don’t work for free and don’t give away your script. A producer who can’t pay you for a script is unlikely to make a worthwhile film.
  89. Don’t be unyielding in your work. Directors are unlikely to want to work next time with someone who defends the color of every skirt in the script. But you don’t have to agree with everything as a secretary, either. The truth is somewhere in the middle.
  90. Don’t burn bridges behind you by being fired from a project. It happens to even the most successful writers. There’s usually nothing personal about it, and the studio may well contract you for the next project.
  91. Know how to wait. Meetings, feedback, decisions.
  92. Don’t be afraid of rejection. Rejection is not failure, it’s when you just stay in the same place.
  93. Finish what you started.
  94. Don’t give up easily. If you love what you do and it’s important to you, no one will stand in your way. And just the same – any of your doubts are sure to find embodiment in the face of a skeptical expert.
  95. Change what’s not working. To the same goal may lead many ways, and not all of them are equally easy and successful.
  96. Review your goals regularly. You should get satisfaction from your work, and if it’s not there, no amount of outside praise can be an indicator that your path is right.
  97. Everything has a price. Just think about what you could do if you weren’t chasing your stupid dream of becoming a screenwriter. Go out with friends, date, get married a couple of times, have kids and travel, in short, lead a normal life… Are you ready for this social sacrifice?
  98. Be honest with yourself. You have to know exactly what you want to achieve – money, fame, professional recognition, realization of your ideas.
  99. Be passionate about the craft, despite the disappointments.
  100. Don’t take everything too seriously. In order to write about life, you have to live it.
  101. Write all the time. You can’t make a movie just because you’re a good attentive viewer. Only practice makes a professional a professional. Matsuo Basho: Don’t strive to find traces of sages. Strive to find what they were looking for.


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