You average 6-8 hours a day on the world wide web. That’s one third of your day. Asking you to do something creative, like screenwriting, on the source of your greatest addiction is like asking a crack addict to cook a gourmet meal inside a crack den. How else can I write, you ask yourself. I need my keyboard, my Final Draft app, my access to Wikipedia and so on. But do you really?
Writers have been doing it for thousands of years without computers, without typewriters, hell, even without notebooks. Sometimes they chiseled entire books on stone tablets. The computer is merely today’s writing instrument of choice. You don’t have to be on this computer to be writing. That is just the limited way you choose to see writing. I know no other way, you protest! Well, you could write like wrote in kindergarten. Remember, it was called…
But the pros all have Final Draft, Save the Cat app, a dogeared copy of Mckee’s story, you insist. There’s two writers at least who are the highest form of movie writing who hand-write all their first drafts. These guys are named Woody Allen and Quentin Tarantino. Liberate yourself from the shackles of technology and do it like Woody and Quentin… who knows, maybe you’ll crank out a “Hannah and Her Sisters” or “True Romance.”
A) FILL THE BLANK SPACE
Since Woody Allen began writing, he hand-writes all his first drafts. He’s not even limited to a notebook. Once on a European vacation, a bored Woody scribbled the entire film “Crimes and Misdemeanors” on hotel napkins. He’s not limited to laptops or notebooks. He just writes. To paraphrase the Woodman, he sees a blank space and wants to “fill” it. Since 1972, Woody has written at least one movie per year. How?
It’s 2016 and another one of his films is about to be released, and the next one about to be shot already. How does this guy manage to crank these screenplays out year after year after year?
If you didn’t deal with Spam emails, Facebook, iChat, Twitter, Pinterest, and so on and so forth, you would remove 95% of your obstacles. And then you could just deal with the challenge of you know… JUST WRITING A STORY.
That’s all Woody does. Once complete, he types his screenplay on the same type writer his mom bought him when he was 16. They don’t make ’em like they used to. I know some people who have had over dozen laptops in just a few years and zero screenplays. Woody has used the same friggin’ typewriter for like 50 some years and he’s got about the same amount of screenplays.
B) PROTECT YOUR CREATIVITY
There may be something you don’t know about the great Quentin Tarantino. He can barely spell. Apparently, the most basic word is a huge challenge to the writer of “Pulp Fiction.” “Inglourios Basterds” is titled that way for a reason. The writer/director insisted it was spelled the way he spells… like the most incompetent third grade student in class. A high school drop out, QT lacks the functions that most amateur screenwriters covet. The need for perfect grammar and spelling. I can’t tell you how many amateurs I meet who consider this MORE important than character development.
How the hell can this imbecile get from point A to point Z to tell a story? Very simple. He just “writes” it. In a notebook. With multicolored pens. He uses the variety of colors for rewriting. QT says his first draft resemble the notebook of a psychotic killer. Even before he was successful, QT had someone correct his spelling for him and also retype it for him. Waste of money? What about all the seminars, boot camps and apps some people buy?
QT is only worried about ONE THING. Telling a great story. Maybe he doesn’t always achieve this, but his track record is pretty damn good. Love or hate him, just understand that the man is deeply protective of his creativity. He won’t let silly things like grammar, spelling or typing get in the way of his imagination’s freedom.
Thomas Edison once said he didn’t need to know anything about math because he could just hire someone to do math. Tarantino doesn’t spell or understand grammar because… he can just hire someone who’s good at it to take care of it for him. Can you imagine what a nightmare auto-correct would be for him?
Telling a story is a skill we are all born with. We tell stories all day to other people, whether we’re good at it or not. When we story-tell to someone else, a loved one, a colleague at work, or an acquaintance, we’re not worried about grammar, spelling or even telling the story in order. We just STORY-TELL.
You don’t have to fire up the laptop, tablet, or any other device to write really well, as Woody and Quentin have demonstrated in repeated fashion. In fact, eliminating technology may allow your imagine to flourish more profoundly that even you could have imagined. A pen and notebook may very well be the pick axe to the prison of technology you’ve been sentenced to.
Give this writing tip a try, and you just might finally break out!
We’ve assembled all 13 of our screenwriting tips in this monster of a page to help you improve your screenwriting habits and enjoy the craft more than ever.
Written by: Norith Soth