Is it possible?
Yes, professional writers have done it, and now it’s your turn.
Remember, this isn’t for everyone. Only for people who may have the talent but procrastinate. If that’s you, please keep reading.
What you need to know to accomplish this is first how to write a screenplay. If you don’t, please take a look at my other post below.
This process is a challenge, but below, we’ve laid out some steps to help you plan and get through this process as efficiently as possible.
1) Outline Intensely Before Writing
Outlining isn’t part of this process and if you took a look at my article “How to write a screenplay” you will know that this part isn’t always essential, but when it comes to writing a screenplay in 30 days it is.
Why write an outline first?
In this one month process, you might not have time to be thinking about the next plot point, especially if you’re balancing a full time or even part-time job. At most you might have three hours in a day to perform so to be efficient please do this first.
How long should my outline be?
Your outline should be 10 to 20 pages long. Why so long because you want to think through the plotting to completion. Yes, your characters will still surprise you and take on a life of there own during the writing process, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t outline.
What should your script outline have?
Since this is a reasonably long script outline, you want to have a little more information, so when you start writing if you get stuck, you can find your place fairly quickly from looking at your outline. Things you should include are:
- Character list. descriptions of each and there wants and needs
- Seven plot points
- Memorable scenes (write them out)
You would add a comprehensive character list to this outline, unlike in a traditional one because you want to remember when people enter the story and why. Helping keep you on track and not inventing people that were never intended on being int he story, to begin with.
Writing out scenes not complete but just the “pros” can save you time in the 30 days of forgetting and remembering the most important turning points in a script.
Only after your outline is finished should you start the clock on your 30-day time limit.
Now let’s get into it.
2) Don’t judge yourself
Don’t read a single word until your done.
Probably one of the most essential pieces of advice in this post. As writers, we tend to look back at the page and try to perfect what we wrote. When writing a screenplay in 30 days, don’t do this. It wastes to much time. Perfection will come later right now its time to sprint.
Like in that one time in college or high school when you had a paper due to tomorrow. Approach this with the same attitude, just write it.
There will be a time in this 30-day process when you will judge yourself, but the first 3-weeks isn’t part of that. For most writers, this is a freeing process and takes the stress out of writing something great. This is also the time when you throw in things you think is funny if your writing a comedy or scary if you’re writing a horror. If you feel it, then write it. You can always throw it out later.
3) Set a Time to Write
If you try to randomize this during your month, you might be setting yourself up for failure. Leaving your writing to when your tired or worse when you have other important things to do and forget.
Best times, according to the most productive people throughout history is either early or really late at night. The reason being most of the time working at 2 am by staying up late or waking up early at 4 am, everyone is asleep fewer distractions.
No kids running around, no roommates taking or no car noises zooming by. Unless your somewhere like New York.
For me, I’m a night person, but I’ve found working earlier. I have more energy. But it’s up to you.
How long should your writing sessions be?
The length of your writing sessions depends on your willpower. During the first day have a timmer running. Then start writing. The moment you feel a frustrated irritated or antsy stop. These are all signs of mental exhaustion.
Same when exercising. The lactic acid builds up in muscles tells you’ve had a good workout. If you push too far beyond that, you need to rest before working out that muscle again.
Now contrary to what people tell you. “Keep going one more” etc. If you want to write every day for 30 days straight, you shouldn’t push past your mental exhaustion too often. The next day like your muscles will be too sore to do it. Or when it comes to your brain, you won’t feel like it.
If you write for 1 hour straight and start to feel this way, stop the next day push 3 minutes past that point and every couple of days up to your time. The slow increase will trick your brain into thinking it’s not that much longer. By the end of your 30 days, you will have a new threshold for writing. Giving you the ability to work longer than most people you know.
4) Remember to Have Fun
If you’re naturally not editing and judging yourself every line, this should come naturally. Keep a reason in your head for doing this. Make sure the goal is something other than financial gain. Most people think their primary motivation is money, but when they put that motivation in from of them, they burn out quickly.
You’re writing this story because it excites you not because of its the next Oscar-winning script. Keeping this thought in your mind takes a lot of pressure off and gives you motivation other than paying the bills. You should be thinking like this as a creative anyway.
For example, as the thumbnail, I put a picture of Corry Finley film “Thoroughbreds.” Which he wrote and directed. If you don’t know him it’s fine then the main point is hes not traditionally a screenwriter and if your reading this post your not either. He was a playwright.
He had the challenge of adapting his own work into a screenplay.
and you could bet they wanted it sooner than later.
And because of his vision, they asked him to direct it, giving him 5 million. There are dozens of stories just like this. He wasn’t trying to sell a movie he was trying to make a great story.
6.) Reread your Script / Edit it
You’re not writing the whole 30 days you may be at most writing for four weeks of it. The last week is the editing part. If you had fun, you probably wrote a bunch of scenes that could be cut or dialogue that might make you cringe during this part. But just laugh it off and start cutting.
Cut as much as you can. If you wrote 100 pages, try to cut 10 getting it to 90 if you wrote 90 cuts it down to 80. Don’t fall in love with scenes during this process fall in love with a great story. A story isn’t three good scenes a story is entirely connected scenes leading to a point.
Try to cut down your action lines and dialogue as well. Remember it needs to read like a movie will be shot not like a book is read.
When cutting think to yourself if the story didn’t have that would it still work? Will the point still be made? If the answer is yes, then take it out.
5) Create a Schedule
What does writing a screenplay in one month look like? Take a look below.
Week one – Review your outlines first act and beats. Write Fade In. Time yourself until you get tired. How many pages did you write? How long did you go for? Keep track. Remember to be on point for a 90-page script you need at least three pages a day if you feel good to go for four or even five but don’t push it too hard — consistency over quantity here.
Minimum 21 pages done.
Week two – up your time writing this should increase your page count. You might go from three pages to four whatever your schedule is improve it. Your will power should be slighly pushed here. This would put you ahead of schedule.
Minimum 46 pages done including your first 21.
Week three – Increase your rate of work. Remember to peek at your outline to make sure you’re on track. You might not have more time you can dedicate to your writing by now, but your speed should be increasing as your brain gets used to the process. But if you do have more time, please increase the time writing by 3-5 minutes every couple of days.
Minimum 74 pages done including your first 46.
Week four – By this time, you on your last act. Depending on how much of your story you’ve written, you can start the previous process, which is the review. But if you’re not there yet, it’s ok. You have the entire week to keep writing.
Minimum 90 pages done including your first 74.
Week five – review time. Take this week to read through and correct any mistakes you see. If you do this, you might overwrite, which is not a bad thing. It means you had fun. But cut the unnecessary parts out. You should work on a minimum of 15 pages a day. Again this isn’t the most fun part, but its a must.
Congratulations you’ve finished a script in 30 days.
Your finished writing but you’re not done
A script takes time to perfect. Every screenwriter knows that there are many drafts after the first one. But the first maybe the hardest. I’ve heard many writers say:
“Good I’ve finished the first draft now four more to go.”
You may think the draft you hold in your hand is the finished one. If so it’s because of your a newer writer. So then the question becomes how do I know my screenplay is good? I wrote an article you can go through just about that topic it’s below.
Other than that if you would like professional help in determining the status of your script before sending it out to the universe. There is a service where you can get your script professionally graded by a Hollywood screenwriter.
Imagine the writer of the TV series like Malcolm in the middle or Starticus or movies like Dred reading your script and giving it a pass or fail grade. Click below to find out more
What Do the Pros Do?
Pro screenwriters, according to the WGA, don’t finish their first drafts in 30 days. That’s insanity, especially on the professional level. A standard contract gives them 12 weeks to finish there the first draft. But think of how efficient you will be with your time once you get there?
This process over three months is a lot less stressful, giving you 1 to 1.5 pages a day to write.
My personal Experience
After doing this myself, I’ve learned how to hustle and how to never judge my writing to critically. It was hard the first week, but by week 4, I got the hang of it. My screenwriting has gotten better since then, not because Of this process but because I just write more. More practice equals more chances to get better. It’s no longer a daunting task anymore its an exciting one.
I use to have a lot of anxiety when it came to writing mainly because I was a perfectionist. And yes Im still a perfectionist but only after the first draft is finished. Also, I don’t write an entire screenplay in one month, I take my time now, but I keep it at the 12-week professional level.
Writing a script this fast is a challenge. Like running a mile a day for 30 days straight or learning to dance in 30 days. But it pushes you and makes doing that activity easy and fun moving forward.