Is It Hard to Write a Screenplay?

How Hard is it to Write a Screenplay

Often, starting a new hobby or career is fun and exciting. The thought of your story often is the most exciting feeling you can have as a writer, but when it comes to the daunting task of actually writing, your excitement can wear off.  

Is it hard to write a screenplay? Yes, the act of writing a script can be challenging to complete especially if you haven’t written a complete feature film before. And the review and rewriting process is often considered the hardest part because this is where your passion wears off for the project.

Though don’t let that put you off writing a screenplay!

Let’s break down all those intimidating components that put people off writing a screenplay. 

Can Anybody Write a Screenplay? 

Can anybody write a screenplay? Yes, anyone can write a script. There are no barriers to entry for writing anything.

Before, those in Hollywood had the know-how of screenwriting kept close to their chest. But now, that knowledge is continuously shared. 
The internet allows screenwriters to spread their experiences and own lessons with writers worldwide. 

There are videos, articles, blogs, and an array of other resources freely available. So no matter your situation, if you want to know more about writing a screenplay, you can. 

Many professional screenwriters like John August and J. Gideon Sarantinos have websites with a long history. Here they share inside tips and tricks that no other generation of writers have had before, right at their fingertips. 

Even screenwriting software is becoming more universally affordable for avid screenwriters. 

FadeIn, Highland 2, and Studio Binder have been developed with new writers in mind. They offer tools that will help you get accustomed to basic screenwriting rules. 

So, nothing is holding you back from getting started on your first screenplay. 

How Long Does It Usually Take To Write a Screenplay?

How long does it take to write a screenplay? Professionals can take up to 12 weeks to write the first draft.

But this is if a studio were to hire a screenwriter to write a project for them.

There is no honest answer to how long it should take you to write a screenplay for individuals. It will take as long as it takes you. In a video interview, Lee Jessup spoke about her expectations for her screenwriting clients. She advised that writers write at least one new production-ready feature screenplay every year. Or two new, production-ready pilot scripts. 

There are a few things to note here: 

  • Jessup speaks about her expectations for industry-level, experienced writers. Not those starting their journey. 
  • Product ready means edited, finalized, and ready-to-go blueprints. Not every new screenwriter will feel the need to finalize their screenplays
  • Jessup doesn’t account for personal commitments and life limitations.
  • She assumes that all new scripts will derive from a new concept.

If you ask how hard it is to write a screenplay, you are probably not already a professional screenwriter. 

The expectations that Jessup outlines are when the industry expects full-time paid screenwriters. 

When writing your first screenplay, you should cut yourself more slack. Personal commitments will limit the amount of time you can spend writing your screenplay. It is essential to set an update to aim for but make it realistic.

You will need to spend a tiny amount of writing time getting yourself familiar with screenwriting rules. This, too, will reduce how many pages of a script you can write a day, never mind a year. 

Once you get into the swing of formatting and structuring your screenplays, it will not take nearly as long to complete a script. 

Having the Passion and the Drive 

A simple internet search can tell you everything you need to know about writing a screenplay… in theory. 
But in practice, things get a little more complicated. 

Everybody can write a screenplay, but not everybody has enough passion. You have to have the determination and perseverance to push through those days when touching your scrips seems impossible. 

Anders Ericsson (a Swedish psychologist) came up with purposeful practice. 

When you find the thing, you want to improve and actively train to improve it. In this case, identify your writing weaknesses and find ways to become a better screenwriter. 

If you do not want to put the work into honing your craft, you will have a hard time writing a screenplay. 

Talking to other screenwriters will also make writing your screenplays easier. 

Screenwriting is often a lonely craft. Getting to know other screenwriters and seeing for yourself that you are not the only one that writing wall sometimes can help you more motivated to write. 

After all, if they can do it, then so can you. 

Surround Yourself With The Right Tools

You are setting yourself up for a complicated process if you write your script by hand.

Specific screenwriting tools continue to be created so that you can have an easier time writing a screenplay. So use them! 

In her article discussing how to write a screenplay when you are a self-taught screenwriter, Barri Evins talks about how hard screenwriting is to master. 

Not necessarily the act itself but rather the various rules and expectations of screenwriting. 

Many screenwriting software will format your screenplay for you. They will also allow you to see a script breakdown. This will make you understand a screenplay as a blueprint rather than as a work of fiction.

Likewise, there are countless produced screenplay examples online for you to study. 

Surround yourself with tools and references to make writing your screenplay easier. Then, if you run into a formatting or sequencing problem, you can find a quick solution. 

Time To Hear From You 

Let us know if you found writing a screenplay a hard task for you?

What were the common hurdles that nearly made you quit?

Are there any tools you recommend to new screenwriters? How long did it take you to write your first ready-to-produce script? 

Is It Hard to Write a Screenplay?
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