The power of a visible goal
All last week I was in a workshop with LA-based screenwriter Paul Margolis, who was coaching some of us kiwi screenwriters on how to sell direct to Hollywood.
Needless to say, it was a fascinating week, where we got to meet kindred spirits, talk about our passion and get solid feedback from Paul and from each other. It was amazing to see how people's ideas developed and grew over the week.
But the best thing about the whole week was Friday night, where Paul called our collective bluffs. He said in Hollywood you usually get three months to write a script. That's 12 weeks - and with usualy screenplay lengths, that's 10 pages a week. That's 2 pages a day, assuming you take weekends off. That's roughly half a page an hour.
All of a sudden, instead of an abstract goal - writing a Hollywood screenplay - we had a frighteningly tangible goal: a completed first draft by June 2nd. The scariest part was four hours a day working on the script.
It was scary but it worked. It was like the mid-point in a movie where the hero can no longer go back to his ordinary life. We were no longer amateurs and strangers; we are now a band of writers, mutually committed to a deadline. We're all working on different projects, but one of the key motivators will be not wanting to look silly in front of the others come June 2nd.
Now I'm motivated! And today will be my first four hour shift. I'm going out tonight, but even if I'm up in the wee hours - I'll be doing that four hours. Because I've found a) what I love to do, and b) a system of discipline to help me do it.
I'll keep you posted.