The First Weekly Check In of 2015 68 comments


life_best_oscar_photos_041 640 x 427

Welcome writers to a very special check-in: the first weekly check in of the 2015 writing year!


You asked for it, you got it. The Weekly Check In is back!

We haven’t had a check in together for a while, and I’ve missed you! So let’s launch the 2015 writing year with a special annual writing check in.

I may phrase the check-in questions in terms of writing but I know we have some multi-talented creative people here so please feel welcome to share about all your creative projects.

Special 2015 New Year Writing Check In

1. How did you fare with your writing and creative goals in 2014?

You know me: I’m just as excited about process as about outcomes. Your internal and intrinsically-motivated writing goals, like taking risks, raising the quality of your writing, or make advances in your writing approach are as valid as external, extrinsic writing accomplishments.

If you are a shy or modest person, this is your official permission to brag about yourself. I really want to know what you’ve been up to!

2. What are your writing and creative goals for 2015?

If you aren’t sure yet what your writing goals for the year are, that’s okay: you’re welcome to come back and add a response in the discussion here anytime you like.

Now that you’ve shared your big goals for the year, let’s move on to our standard weekly check in and talk about the immediate steps you’re taking to achieve those goals.

2015 Week One Weekly Check In

Next week we’ll review our progress on goals for the previous week, but given that we’re coming out of the disruption of the holiday season, let’s leave that for now and move straight on to new goals.

What are your creative goals for the coming week?

Reminder: The most effective goals are process-oriented. (I’ll write more about setting effective goals in the future.) If you’re new to weekly check ins, here are some suggestions for different kinds of weekly goals to help you get started:

Writing

You might set a goal to write a certain number of words, pages, or hours per day or per week. You might also set goals around doing research and prep, or rewriting, editing and proofreading. Or, rather than set quantitative goals, you might set qualitative goals, and commit to attempting something more difficult (or something easier!–that can be a valid goal, too) or something new.

Growing

What are you doing to grow as a writer this week? Goals around growing might include experimenting with writing games and exercises, writing in new forms, taking a class, reading a writing book, or working with a mentor. Making choices that expand your creative outlook can be great parts of Reading, Watching and Feeding Your Creative Spark, too.

Reading

What are you reading this week? Do you set yourself reading goals? I’m sure you’re all reading work in the field that you write for. I hope you’re also reading in other fields. Whether it’s the canonical works of western literature, writing in any form outside the western canon, works by marginalized writers,  there is a myriad of options: great writing is inspirational.

Watching

If you write work for performance I’m sure you’re watching in your field, but again, there’s so much opportunity to learn from works outside the narrowest definition of what you write. What are you watching, analyzing and learning from this week?

Supporting

One of the topics I want to explore this year is the idea of “literary citizenship”–which gets more attention in some writing fields than others. For now, the short version is that there’s much to be gained from supporting fellow writers and participating actively in a creative community. Are you exchanging notes with another writer this week? Writing a book review or an interview? What are your goals about connecting with and investing in your fellow writers?

Feeding Your Creative Spark

What are your goals around not just exploiting but also nurturing your creativity this week? Where do you go for inspiration? What fills you up and reinvigorates you?

The suggestions above aren’t the only way to set creative goals and you’re not obligated to answer those questions but I hope they inspire some ideas for how you can set weekly goals of your own.

Reminder for Our First Check In

In the spirit of improv, please cheer for each other when you check in. If you’re new to weekly check ins, the idea of cheering might feel a bit silly at first, especially for people you don’t know. But I promise you that A) you’ll all get to know each other pretty quickly, and B) it feels really great to be cheered for, even by strangers. So please take me on faith and give the cheering a try.

The first weekly check in of the year is here: hurray! I am so excited to hear all about your writing. Fill me in!

And very best wishes to everyone on achieving your writing goals this year.


68 thoughts on “The First Weekly Check In of 2015

  • Susana

    I started 2014 with a bit of a bang. A producer hired me to write a script for him. Unfortunately, as the months passed by, the project died because of conflicting viewpoints.
    This year, I’m planning on working on my own screenplays. Already I’ve adapted a short story of mine into a short script and I also have a subject for my next feature-length script. By the end of this week I’d like to get started on the research.

    • Shaula Evans Post author

      Yay, Susanna!

      Please keep me posted on how the research and the new script goes.

      If you or anyone else would like resources on writing short films, please let me know. I have some incredible information in my archives that I’m happy to post here. I’d also like to get some conversations going between the short story writers, flash fiction writers, and short film writers, as I see some tremendous potential for us to learn from each other.

  • Shelley Gustavson

    Apologies. This is long.

    Normally the proj. manager in me sticks to agendas well, but as we’re all getting to know one another, I figured I could make this the therapy-esque ramble to open up my thoughts. That way you all can then keep me on task, or remind me to revisit issues I’ve brought up here. In essence, think of this as my 2015 career and creative “vomit draft.”

    2014 was the year I gave myself permission to call myself “a screenwriter.” Since then I’ve written two specs and am working on revisions to both. Plus I’ve outlined and/or brainstormed about 6 other stories (some just scribbles of ideas, others near treatment level). I also put myself out there on TBL., TBB, and Twitter. While I am used to working in collaborative environment with reviewers who don’t mince their words, I also used 2014 to rebuild my pragmatic, callused ability to handle criticism and grow.

    Getting the brain and courage going is one thing, but revisions, editing, and refining are another. The first spec was a pleasure for me personally, but a hard, steep learning curve in terms of switching professional hats. I’m proud of what I did last year, but I’m more excited about what’s to come, and what I can do better.

    My 2015 goals focus mostly on the brass-tacks of revisions to my first two specs: resubmit one for more feedback, and begin submitting the other that hasn’t seen the light of other people’s eyes [ahem, I’m looking at all of you here at SE.com].

    Also hope to try for some competitions, posts on TBL for feedback, etc.

    Besides actual writing, however, a lot of my 2015 goals have to do with furthering my education about the business side of screenwriting–webinars, articles, books, plus simply practicing pitching online to rebuild my public speaking muscles…

    Thanks to a recent holiday post by S. Meyers on examining where one has come from, where one is now, and where one wants to be, I’ve shaped my to-do list for 2015 into categories like “Brass Tacks” (must do writing/editing tasks and deadlines), “Process” (ways to improve and try new things), “Business” (pitch practices, loglines, management research), and “Education” (reading, podcasts, etc.).

    As for next week? After a month off from the holidays I’m almost scared to begin revisions to my second spec, no matter how much I love it. (It’s an adaptation of Euripides’ The Bacchae… I know, I know…. but trust me, it will be okay.)

    I want to do right by it, be more methodical and efficient with my revisions based on what I learned with spec #1, and work through it this month. My goal is to have a revised draft ready for readers after the first week of Feb.

    So, next week:

    1. If I haven’t begun revisions to spec #2, please give me a swift kick in the pants. I’ve been using the holiday downtime to shape characters through interview-like techniques, re-outlining, drawing relationships maps, etc., but while I feel ready to revise, I also know I’m stalling.

    2. I’m also reading a draft for a friend here at SE.com, Mayur P., so my goal is to finish my first read for him and to begin notes.

    3. My next screenplay to read is “The Debt” by P. Straughn, who has become my new favorite professional obsession. (If you all haven’t seen “Frank” you really should–yes, the Michael Fassbender-in-a-paper-mache-head movie.)

    Best of luck and can’t wait to hear from all of you,

    Shel

    • Shaula Evans Post author

      Hurray, Shelley!

      > I also used 2014 to rebuild my pragmatic, callused ability to handle criticism and grow.

      Bravo! Being able to collaborate and interact with other creatives in a professional, emotionally-safe way cracks open so much writing potential and creative opportunities.

      If anyone wants to have some discussions around here about how to handle criticism and how to cultivate those skills, say the word.

      > Getting the brain and courage going is one thing, but revisions, editing, and refining are another.

      I’ve found very little good information out there about how to rewrite effectively–so I’ve had to make up my own methods. It’s a topic I’m always happy to discuss with other writers as I’m keen to learn from what you’ve worked out for yourselves, too.

      Please consider “rewriting” another topic that’s up for discussion and if it’s a high priority for any of you, let me know and I’ll make it a priority.

  • John Connor

    Yay Susana! I’m sorry to hear about your project with the producer falling apart, but I hope at least there were some lessons you could take from the experience. What are your plans for your short script? Are you wanting to make it yourself, or is it more something you’d be looking to shop around? (I probably can’t help either way, I’m just curious!)

    As for me, my 2014 was a bit of a disappointment in terms of how much writing I did: I started the year with a definite (over-ambitious) goal, and didn’t even come close to matching it. I actually fell victim to something Shaula hints at in her post: I made my goal all about the outcome (“I’m gonna write X number of feature drafts this year!”) and not about the process (“I’m gonna sit down and write X pages each day”). It made the goal seem insurmountable, and it quickly got away from me, which led to me getting annoyed with myself.

    So this year, I’m going back to the trick I learned when I was trying to write novels, which is to keep my goals nice and small, keep them short-term, and keep them relatively achievable. For the four days a week I’m at my day job, I’m gonna try and write two pages a day; on the other three days, I’m gonna aim for six pages. I started applying that pattern last Monday, and I’ve kept it up without raising too much of a sweat this week, and the twenty-six pages I wrote are the most I’ve written in a week in a looooooong time. It’s kind of amazing how far you can walk while you’re simply concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other! ;-)

    In terms of the more qualitative goals Shaula mentions, this script I’m working on is easily the most complex, difficult and ambitious story idea I’ve ever had, and if I can realise my vision for it (big if!), I suspect it could really push my writing to another level. Here’s hoping!

    • Shaula Evans Post author

      Yay, John!

      Before you beat yourself up too much, I know that last year you watched more movies than all other humans on earth combined (give or take a few billion), and as a screenwriter, that counts towards your professional and creative development. Do give yourself credit for that, too.

      Hmm. Sounds like we need to talk about how to make effective goals that are inspiring instead of demotivating. Consider that in the list.

      > It’s kind of amazing how far you can walk while you’re simply concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other! ;-)

      Yes!

      (And yet I keep learning and relearning this myself, too.)

      > …this script I’m working on is easily the most complex, difficult and ambitious story idea I’ve ever had, and if I can realise my vision for it (big if!), I suspect it could really push my writing to another level.

      I find it’s important for me to go after a Big Scary Project like that on a regular basis because it keeps me honest, it makes me grow–and when I go back to my “regular old projects” they also seem so much easier in comparison that it takes any intimidation out.

      I’m in the middle of one myself that I honestly may have bungled. Don’t know if I can pull it off or not, at least not with my current level of writing skills. And I’m good with that! I have learned a great deal from my work on this project already: in that sense it has already justified the resources I invested. If I can’t work it out now, I’ll put it aside and come back to it later when I have new insights on what to do with it. Some projects are slow burners and this one may be.

      I know how good and also how ambitious your writing always is, John, so I look forward to seeing what you can do when you really push yourself!

      • John Connor

        “I know that last year you watched more movies than all other humans on earth combined (give or take a few billion), and as a screenwriter, that counts towards your professional and creative development.”

        Watching movies is still the most fun way I know to learn about how to write movies, that’s why I do it so often. (Don’t get me wrong, I love writing more than anything, but there’s a struggle involved that stops it from being pure ‘fun’ the way nestling into a cinema seat is for me.) I will admit, though, that I probably need to invest some more time in those other methods of learning screenwriting (giving notes, reading pro scripts, etc.) which I’ve tended to be more lax about.

        “I find it’s important for me to go after a Big Scary Project like that on a regular basis because it keeps me honest, it makes me grow–and when I go back to my “regular old projects” they also seem so much easier in comparison that it takes any intimidation out.”

        Yeah, I found something similar when I took a break from my (fairly complicated, plot-wise) sci-fi script and bashed out a fairly simple, fairly conventional horror movie. Hopefully the same thing will happen this year (but on a kinda larger scale), when I finish my Urban Fantasy Gangster Romance, and scale things down again for my relatively intimate Gay Themed Period Noir.

        (Good God, sometimes I look at the genres I’m mashing up and think I’ve gone completely insane.)

    • Susana

      Thanks John.
      I mostly wrote the short for the experience and keeping up the writing habit. I tried to do NaNoWriMo last Nivember and only got a few thousand words, but I just don’t want to lose the momentum.
      My smaller goals when I’m writing a feature are similar to yours: I give myself a number of pages to write each day (ten if I’m not working, four if I am). Good luck on the script you’re working on!

      • John Connor

        Susana, you’re soooooo right about importance of momentum. It’s amazing how hard sitting down to write can seem when you’ve been out of the groove for a while, but how easy and natural it can seem once you’ve really made it a part of a daily routine. Best of luck with your writing for this week, and for all of 2015!

  • Mark Walker

    Hurray Susana and John! Glad to hear you have clear plans and best of luck to both of you!

    I’m planning to do something similar to you John and try and make those goals more manageable. I started 2014 with a Diary within which I planned the coming week’s spare time and how I would utilise that for writing. It worked pretty well at first and I was managing to write pages, do research and read scripts. However, the impetus slipped as time passed.

    Working full-time makes it tricky to write effectively without some form of planning, as I found in the latter half of 2014 when my diary efforst slid and my organisation failed.

    I still managed to get some things done in 2014 that I wanted to, and put some work out on the Black Board for some useful feedback, but I think I could have got more written/edited if I had continued with my planning.

    So I am going to have another go this year – and this writing year begins tomorrow – so next week you all get the chance to make sure I did keep to my word!

    Broadly speaking, I want to finish rewrites on two scripts I have been working on in 2014 and, like John, have a new story I started researching in 2014 and am really excited to get to work on.

    But I also need to push myself “out there” more and put my money where my mouth is – I need to promote myself and my writing.

    For this week, I just want to get back into planning properly, so I’ll be using some time to get back into my new script and, if it all works out, reading at least one screenplay.

    I also want to spend more time keeping up to date with things on social media and other screnwriting website and groups.

    So not much then…. :-)

    But I think I kicked it off well with a viewing of Big Hero 6 this morning, which was one of those goose-bump inducing movies that just makes you so happy and determined to play a part in creating those same emotions through your own writing.

    Other than writing, as some of you know, I got into astronomy in 2014 and have slowly been getting to grips with astrophotography. I am hoping to develop those skills as well in 2015 and get better and better shots to bore everyone with!

    So here is to 2015, great writing, creativity and accountability! ;-)

    Good luck everyone!

    • Shaula Evans Post author

      Yay, Mark!

      I would love to know why we stop doing things that work (re: your diary). I do this ALL THE TIME in my own life. I suspect there are some good explanations out there. I feel like if I better understood why and how this happened I be better able to prevent it.

      > For this week, I just want to get back into planning properly,

      You know, I find that when I’m in full-out all-production mode, I get less done than when I take the time away from “doing” and to invest in “planning”. I fully support you in getting organized for your new writing year.

      > So not much then….

      Slacker. ;)

      I’m glad you’ve got your astronomy, too. Many of the creative people I admire have more than one “thing” they do–often one (or more) for public exposure but also at least one thing that’s just for them. It’s a balanced approach to creativity that I want to move more towards myself.

      What genres are the screenplays you’re working on this year?

      • Mark Walker

        Ahhh….genre genre genre…..I still feel I need to settle…I need to finish Tin Soldier as I have spent so much time on it and had some great feedback that it would be a waste to let it lie fallow – even if it never sees the light of day – and that’s a drama. I might rewrite my teen drama that you read a few pages on as I have some ideas as to how I can rewrite that to make it less “amateurish”, and then the puppets are my primary focus at the moment – and that’s a family film.

        So I’m mixing it up a bit there….maybe 2015 will be the year I find my genre comfort zone…..although I still do feel the urge to try horror….maybe a family horror! ;-)

  • Shelley Gustavson

    I second a “would love to hear more about Susana’s story.” JC, great job with the page-count approach!

  • Steve Gregg

    Happy 2015! New to the check-in process but can already tell I like it.

    Susana, hooray for starting us off: the very first check-in of the very first check-in. Love it that you’re turning last year’s disappointment into a concrete goal.

    And yay John, for your goal (and advice) about small goals, something I’ve noticed is helpful for me as well. I’m really interested to see what your productivity is on your day-job days vs your “free” days. When I have day jobs I’m often surprised at how the structure of the former counterintuitively ups my writing output. (That no doubt says bad things about my inherent discipline. )

    The play project of the moment is called Crush, a full-length play for high schools to perform. There’s a very cute group of kids at a charter school in Los Angeles who’ll be producing it this spring, so I need to keep moving.

    I’m going to use Shaula’s check-in beat by beat (at least) this time, since it contains some goals I wouldn’t have thought of on my own.

    Writing: five scenes from my third draft outline. Two are rewrites, three are newish. (That’s a high goal, but I’m feeling energized by this. We’ll see how it turns out.)

    Growing: I learn best by teaching, and I’m teaching how to teach playwriting to two different groups at the end of the month. My goal is to have exercises, classroom games, and scene study ready for the concepts I’m teaching, so it can be somewhat plug and play for them.

    Watching: I have a pilot I want to write, an hour-long drama, so I’ll watch and break down Switched at Birth.

    Supporting: I’m putting “Joining this check-in” because I love having a really easy goal or even one that’s already checked off, like this, to give myself momentum.

    So looking forward to this!

    Steve

    • Shaula Evans Post author

      Hurray, Steve! I’m delighted to find you in the comments here. I’m glad to hear you like the check in process already.

      I will look forward to reading updates about Crush and about your teaching.

      Keep me posted on how you fare with your pilot. I’ve got some good TV-writing resources which I’m happy to share. (In particular, let me know if/when you hit bumps in the road with the writing process.)

      I wanted to do a big project about how to write TV pilots that I’ve had to postpone while I get the new site off the ground, but it’s something I want to revisit here eventually, too.

  • Barbara

    Cheers to Susana, John and Steve.

    John, I also did not meet my 2014 goals for actual writing. I can blame my new day job, but it’s also down to bad time management and pure laziness, sometimes.

    However, I do think I 2014 was a good year for me, because this is the year I stood up for myself professionally. I can’t get into specifics, but … It’s easy for aspiring writers to get taken advantage of. We are so eager to get in the door, we don’t realize we’re being treated like the mat!

    Anyway, I ended the year with three produced short films and a check for another script. A small check, but still.

    My goal for 2015 is to get representation. My Christmas present to myself was an imdpro subscription and I am going to concentrate on querying. I’ve queried before, but not in a consistent and focused way.

    Obviously, I need to keep writing too. My portfolio currently has three features, two sitcom pilots, one sloppy first draft, and lots and lots of unfinished projects and ideas. My writing goals are to get that rough draft to query stage, get at least one unfinished project to the rough draft stage, and get at least two ideas into the “unfinished project” category.

    • Mark Walker

      Good luck with the querying Barbara – would love to hear how you get on with that – and I hope “Cupid” is coming along well – I’d still like to see how that turns out! ;-)

    • Shaula Evans Post author

      > I can blame my new day job, but it’s also down to bad time management and pure laziness, sometimes.

      For what it’s worth, I find most people confuse “user-errors” with “system errors”. You are one of the least lazy, most prolific writers I know, so I doubt the problem is laziness. In most cases, invocations to “try harder” or “be less lazy” don’t accomplish anything for me, but looking at “how is this system broken or inefficient and how can I change it to work better” usually does.

      2014 would have been a better year for me if I’d stood up for myself more and earlier, so I am filing you as a role model in this department, Barbara. Well done!

      > Anyway, I ended the year with three produced short films and a check for another script. A small check, but still.

      A check is a check! That’s brilliant! Congratulations!

  • Shaula Evans Post author

    Only around for a sec right now but popping in to add a big Hurray for everyone and a special Hurray for Mark and Shelley, whose comments were temporarily abducted by the over-eager spam filter.

  • Debbie Moon

    Hurrah everyone! Well done for last year and let’s get started on this year!

    Last year was pretty good for me, but I still seem to be stuck getting television projects optioned but never made. This year I’m determined that one of them will get made – somehow! And I’m determined to get back to LA at some point this year…

    This week? I’m finishing up the first draft of a new feature script, and planning new projects for the year. Always fun to be deciding which of my many ridiculous ideas I should write next!

    • Shelley Gustavson

      Debbie, ridiculous ideas are the best… and my goal is to get back to Wales. I miss the Brecons.

    • Shaula Evans Post author

      Yay, Debbie! It just warms my heart to see you here: feels like a proper start for the new year.

      > Last year was pretty good for me…

      Ahem. I believe that line might win an award for British Understatement of the Millenium.

      Would you care to expand on that? (If not, may I brag on your behalf?)

      If you’d really rather not say just what a good year 2014 was for you, I’ll honour that. But let’s be clear that you have much to celebrate and you deserve to be celebrated!

      > This year I’m determined that one of them will get made – somehow! And I’m determined to get back to LA at some point this year…

      How many new TV projects have you got in the air right now?

      > Always fun to be deciding which of my many ridiculous ideas I should write next!

      Yes. :)

  • A.B. Williams

    Happy New Year and hello!

    If I may be honest, declaring my goals publically scares the bahoohoo out of me, considering my previous attempts at meeting said deadlines have “failed” thus far. BUT, I believe having goals is an important step in allowing myself treat my writing as my career.

    2014 was my year to stop day dreaming about, “what if this,” and, “one day that,” and to finally do something about my filmmaking desires. I have begun writing in earnest and am learning what deadlines are feasible and what is too much for my current set of skills to handle in working around my other obligations.

    For this first full week of 2015, my goal deals with my need for a consistent, daily writing routine, well, as consistent as my stay-at-home-parent of three, unpredictable schedule will allow. I wince as I acknowledge this means waking daily at 5AM to write before the first child rises. Some days I may have two hours, some days one, some days none. I don’t particular LOVE this idea, but nighttime writing with bedtime stalling and those last sips of water, trips to the potty, and one more hug moments have offered little in the way of distraction free/continuous writing time. Once all is said and done, I’m usually too pooped to be creative. My goal for the week is to find my groove and get myself regimented, for however many minutes/hours/pages each day will allow.

    My bigger goals for 2015 are both concrete and hopeful. Concrete are to write at least three of my spec ideas, submit to the Black List and the Austin Film Festival, and filim my first feature. Hopeful ones are for my submissions to do well, to start a webseries, and somehow begin earning a form of a living as a writer/filmaker. No, I don’t currently know how that magic is going to happen, but I haven’t earned a paycheck in over ten years and am determined to contribute again, be the amount covering a week or two of groceries or eliminating our mortgage. Time will tell.

    Thank you, Shaula, for setting this up and allowing me to participate. Wishing you all success with your first week!
    A.B.

    • Shaula Evans Post author

      Hurray, A.B.! It’s wonderful to see you here. Thank you for braving the waters.

      It sound like you have a disciplined yet flexible/realistic approach to writing while parenting, which I really applaud. I’m an inveterate insomniac but when I’m able to get up in the morning, I do my absolute best writing starting at 5 or 6 am after a solid night sleep. I think you’re onto a winning formula there.

      > I haven’t earned a paycheck in over ten years and am determined to contribute again, be the amount covering a week or two of groceries or eliminating our mortgage.

      GOOD. I want to find more ways for writers to make money at writing, too–not just me, but all of us. I always have my eye on this and I’m happy to share what I learn with all y’all.

      > Thank you, Shaula, for setting this up and allowing me to participate.

      You’re welcome, A.B. Now that you’ve delurked I hope we’ll see more of you.

  • John Connor

    Yay Shelley, yay Mark, yay Stephen, yay Barbara, yay Debbie, yay Spam Filter! Wait, scratch that last one …

    Seriously though, it’s great to hear that everyone is energised and looking to stretch themselves and take their writing to the next level. I can’t wait to see what 2015 brings for us all.

  • Jason C Killpack

    Salutations new and old friends!

    A big yay for Susana! Sorry that your project fell through, but here’s to your continued success in 2015!

    A tremendous holler for Shelley! I hope you fill your creative hunger for knowledge this year and much progress on your many specs!

    A loud noisy congrats to John! That is a wonderful page count for the week and I hope you can stick with your writing goals this year!

    A hearty huzzah to Mark! Indeed I hope you can manage to keep to your goals and put yourself out there more!

    A jolly hurray to Steve! I wish you all the best with your play Crush and I know those kids are going to knock it out of the park!

    A courageous shout out to Barbara! That’s great that you stood up for yourself professionally, sometimes if we don’t stand up no one else will! I seriously hope you have successful queries!

    A victorious cheer to Debbie! That’s a great goal to have and I hope you do indeed get one made and not just optioned! Good luck with your new specs!

    A jubilant salutation to my dearest A.B. ! “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” :) I am so glad you took the plunge my friend and no more what if’s and one day’s. I know you will find a regiment that works for you!

    Ok now as for me, 2014 was not successful in some ways and at the same time more successful than I thought it would be.

    On my writing side I didn’t get too much writing done. I was and am kicking around 7 or so spec ideas with 2 to 3 of them actually began working on. But nowhere near what I wanted to accomplish.

    I did however enroll in film school at The Los Angeles Film School and that is going quite well. On Monday I start my 6th month and am maintaining a 4.0, which is a first for me so I am very excited about that.

    I am moving to L.A. this June and so I have a lot to do and prepare for along with all my writing goals.

    Probably my main writing goal for the first half of the year is to have 3 specs finished and polished ready to shop by the time I move. And by the end of the year I want to have finished at least 6 specs.

    I also need to find a writing schedule that I can stick to daily whether it be a word count or page count I haven’t decided yet. I also really want to be involved here as much as possible, and a big thanks to Shaula for creating this awesome place for us!

    I will also be dipping my toes into directing and producing my own short films and indie films once I’m in L.A. , I have a camera, lighting and sound kit so pretty much have everything I need to make my films a reality. Just need people to collaborate with!

    Thank you everyone for taking the time to read this and I look forward to getting to know those of you whom I don’t already know! Here’s to our success in 2015!

    Jason C Killpack

    • Shaula Evans Post author

      Yay, Jason! I’m just delighted to see you pop up in the comments here. Thank you for checking in.

      Bravo on your 4.0. That’s tremendous! (Amazing how much more engaging school is when you’re there by choice studying something you want to learn, isn’t it?)

      > I also need to find a writing schedule that I can stick to daily whether it be a word count or page count I haven’t decided yet.

      Okay, you’ve confirmed that we need to talk here about writing schedules and writing goals. I’ll aim to get something up about that soon.

      > I also really want to be involved here as much as possible, and a big thanks to Shaula for creating this awesome place for us!

      You’re welcome. I’m so pleased to hear you’ll be around. :)

      Do keep me posted on how your short film ventures go. I have a feeling 2015 is going to be the Year of the Short (in a really good way).

  • Rod Thompson

    1. 2014 was a defining year for me. It was my first real step into the arena and I’ve dug in like a tick! Without going on and on, I was totally stoked with the way 2014 went down, and I’m GOING (not hoping) to improve and go that much further in 2015.

    2. Honestly, outside of the norms of wanting a rep, or an option, I really just want to keep telling stories the best way that I can. I have a few contests that I’m entered into, so I’d love to place or win one of those. :D

    THIS WEEK

    I just finished a quick 10 page short as a challenge on Twitter. I called it my “Hair of the Dog” since I just finished a new feature on Dec. 31st and was suffering a gnarly writer’s hangover.

    In reading up further on the industry, this week I am really challenging myself to write a treatment. I never have. Never needed to. I’m a fly-by-story, rough outline sort of writer, so this will be an exercise in the absurd for me. LOL.

    • Shaula Evans Post author

      Yay, Rod! It’s great to catch up with you: I’ve missed you.

      > I called it my “Hair of the Dog” since I just finished a new feature on Dec. 31st and was suffering a gnarly writer’s hangover.

      Okay, this made me laugh out loud. Sounds grueling.

      > this week I am really challenging myself to write a treatment. I never have. Never needed to. I’m a fly-by-story, rough outline sort of writer, so this will be an exercise in the absurd for me.

      I sat down on Sunday night to write you a post about how to write treatments… and it wound up so long that I’ve cut it into a series of NINE articles for you. The first part is live here (as you’ve already discovered): What is a treatment — and the series will run for the next nine weeks (so I don’t bore to tears anyone who isn’t interested in treatments).

      I love writing treatments (I’m an outlier that way) and I really hope this helps you out.

      BTW, I’d much rather write articles here that address your immediate writing needs than topics I pull out of thin air (although I’ll do that sometimes, too), so I’ll be keeping a close eye on the weekly check ins to see what you’re all doing.

  • david joyner

    Congrats to all for their progress in 2014 and good luck to all on your writing goals for 2015. Thanks Shaula for starting to build this community back up again.

    Last year, I would say my biggest accomplishment was that I feel I improved as a *rewriter*. In other words, I think I can better edit myself than one year ago. Not a lot better, but somewhat better.

    For 2015, I’d like to continue writing a series of comedies based on some characters I started working on last year. I hope to learn more about writing (and rewriting) by working on that.

    I’ll also try to follow John’s suggestion on creating small writing goals.

    • Shaula Evans Post author

      Yay, David. And Happy New Year to you, too!

      > Thanks Shaula for starting to build this community back up again.

      You’re welcome. I keep feeling like we’re in a “putting the band back together” montage. In a good way!

      > Last year, I would say my biggest accomplishment was that I feel I improved as a *rewriter*.

      That’s a big accomlishment, and one that doesn’t get enough discussion or attention. Well done!

      > For 2015, I’d like to continue writing a series of comedies based on some characters I started working on last year.

      As you know, my comedy archives are voluminous. I’m happy to post comedy resources here from time to time. I realize not everyone will be interested in writing comedy but… you should be! Whether or not you see yourself as a dedicated comedy writer, learning how comedy works reveals SO much about how writing works. Consider “comedy” on the editorial calendar for 2015.

  • Mark Walker

    Hurrah for everyone who has posted! Although this comment will probably get snaffled as well and pop up in time for next week’s check-in! Shaula assures me it is because I is speshul….. ;-)

    Anyway, good to see some great things going on and a big huzzah to everyone for getting going and for keeping going in 2015!

    Onwards!

    • Shaula Evans Post author

      Mark, you are the ultimate spam bait. No matter what I do, the spam filter gobbles every single one of your comments and I fish them out by hand.

      I have a lead on a different way to troubleshoot this and I promise I’ll stay on it. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy your “extra delicious” status as the most gobbled-commenter around here.

      • Mark Walker

        I thought the most-gobbled commentater would be the King Edward….

        Yeah, it’s late….. I’ll get my coat, if the spam filter lets me have it back! ;-)

  • Sue Morris

    Hello. I’m Sue. I’m new.
    And I’m British, so not that used to cheering, but hurrah for everyone here!
    Twitter has led me here. I’m hoping that this kind of moral and practical support will make it easier to keep my momentum going (and give me a kick up the arse when I need it).
    So, last year: mainly positive. The Drift, a sci-fi/horror feature that I wrote the screenplay for, was released last month. We made it ourselves for peanuts as a community project, but even so I can now legitimately call myself a produced screenwriter with IMDb credits (yay!). Over the course of 2014 I wrote several drafts of what will hopefully be the follow-up, which is a sci-fi/adventure story set in the same universe.
    This year I want to get to grips, finally, with my own spec that I’ve been I’ve been dallying with on and off for a long while now. It’s a period action/adventure set around real historical events. I still need to get this latest draft to a point where I feel comfortable enough to send it out for feedback, and then rewrite/polish in time for competition season. And I have some scraps of story ideas that I want to develop and outline ready for future specs.
    In particular this year I want to get into a more regular writing habit, even if on some days I can only manage a few minutes. I’m also planning to read more scripts, particularly those where I can compare what’s on the page to what ended up on screen.
    Specific goal for this week – rewriting this battle sequence which I’ve been studiously avoiding for ages.

    • Shelley Gustavson

      Sue, who are you on twitter? (And a hearty congrats on 2014– and the best for 2015!)

    • Shaula Evans Post author

      Hurray, Sue! Thank you for jumping in. It’s wonderful to “meet” you.

      > I’m hoping that this kind of moral and practical support will make it easier to keep my momentum going (and give me a kick up the arse when I need it).

      It works that way for me so I hope it has the same effect for you, too.

      > The Drift, a sci-fi/horror feature that I wrote the screenplay for, was released last month.

      That is HUGE! Congratulations!

      Is there somewhere / someway we can watch it?

      There are some talented scifi writers around here. I’ll try to put up some good scifi writing topics soon to draw them out of the woodwork so you can all get to know each other.

      > It’s a period action/adventure set around real historical events.

      “Base on a true story” seems to be THE hot phrase in film circles these days. Sounds like you have great timing.

      > In particular this year I want to get into a more regular writing habit, even if on some days I can only manage a few minutes.

      “Even only a few minutes” is a writing strategy that always pays off for me.

      > Specific goal for this week – rewriting this battle sequence which I’ve been studiously avoiding for ages.

      I’ve got some good information about writing combat sequences and set pieces. If you’d like anything along those lines, let me know.

      • Sue Morris

        Thanks, Shaula. If you’ve got some information to help with writing battle scenes that would be fantastic! It’s a medieval battle, and the challenge is circling between the various characters involved (some in the midst of the action, some observing it), so the reader/audience can keep track of them all. Plus trying to make the whole sequence flow so it’s entertaining and exciting to read – at least that’s the hope!

        As regards The Drift – is it OK to post links here? The trailer is on Youtube and the film is now available on Vimeo. Like I said, we made it ourselves, on a budget of £5,000, so basically it’s like an amateur dramatics version of a Hollywood movie! I wrote an article about the experience for the PAGE Awards ezine a few months ago.

  • April Austin

    Congrats to everyone on the progress you have made and good luck with all of your goals for 2015! It’s so exciting to see so many creative people come together to share their experiences. I enjoyed the weekly check-ins on the Black Board and glad that Shaula has carried that over to her new website.

    Responding to some of the writing prompts:

    How did you fare with your writing and creative goals in 2014?

    2014 was a great year in regards to getting some of my work seen by someone other than my mom. I took the risk of getting feedback from five people on a comedy script I was terrified to show anyone. That was a huge step for me and the response was so helpful. I got a one page monologue produced by a New York filmmaker. It was amazing and terrifying to see my words brought to life. All of the contest I entered last year fell through completely, so I coined 2014 the year of rejection, but it was still a great year overall.

    What are your writing and creative goals for 2015?

    My motto for this year is TakingRisks2015. I’m embracing my comedic side and venturing more into “dramedy” territory. It’s scary since I don’t consider myself a comedy writer, but I do like to find humor in those awkward moments in life. I would like to venture into directing mainly because I want to start putting some of my work out there to be seen. I won’t be able to afford a fancy camera and equipment, so I’m going to invest into getting an iPad so I can shoot, edit and share all on the same device. My main goal is to go after opportunities that seem scary and impossible to come out on top of. 2015 could be another year of rejection, but I have to push myself outside of my comfort zone so I can take my writing to the next level.

    What are your creative goals for the coming week?

    This week I plan on reading at least two scripts, writing two blog entries and writing fourteen pages for my new TV pilot.

    • Shaula Evans Post author

      Yay, April! I’ve been wondering how you were doing and I’m tickled that you’ve popped in to the check up.

      > 2014 was a great year in regards to getting some of my work seen by someone other than my mom.

      My mom has a copy of everything I’ve ever written.

      > I got a one page monologue produced by a New York filmmaker

      Ah, that was for Michael DiBiasio’s videoblogs project as I recall, is that right?

      > My motto for this year is TakingRisks2015. …I have to push myself outside of my comfort zone so I can take my writing to the next level.

      Hurray! That’s exciting!

      > This week I plan on reading at least two scripts, writing two blog entries and writing fourteen pages for my new TV pilot.

      You are one of the most committed writers I know, April, and you’re constantly an inspiration to me.

      • April Austin

        Thank you for the comments, Shaula. You inspire me as well! Love that you have this website.

        It was for Michael DiBiasio’s videoblog project. He has already finished shooting the film, so hopefully we’ll hear more about it soon.

        Time to stay true to my commitments… Let’s see how much I can do tonight. Already posted a new blog today, so I need to keep this momentum going!

  • Mayur Patel

    2014 was a learning curve for me as I was relatively new to script writing. I can remember writing my first feature where I was writing my story down and 154 pages later I’ve written half a story (I know, what the heck). From there I learned how to cut (if a scene doesn’t move a story forward, bye bye), write a scenario a different way and learned an important lesson from a fellow writer that brevity is KING.

    Since then the same feature is 150 pages long for the full story, massive turn around from before. A friend of mine Shelley is reviewing my script as we speak so I am looking forward her notes and advice which I know will strengthen the script.

    At the meantime I am writing three treatments for future stories and reviewing a script for a fellow writer who is at the same stage I was 6 months ago, teaching him the lesson of shortening his dialogue and action and making sure he’s always in active voice.

    1st January was weird. My new revolution was to keep improving my screenwriting and hopefully something good comes out of it, then all of a sudden a former Bollywood actor, director and producer approached me after reading one of my shorts from Inktip. He wanted his story idea turned into a screenplay but wasn’t sure if I’ve ever written a family drama before. My only feature is more of a tragic drama so didn’t know if it fits his bill. He said from the 15 page sample I gave him that it was very interesting, but I didn’t have the right mind for his project.

    I was happy though that I had my first proper contact with a producer and it just gives me a little confidence to show that I can do it if I keep working hard. If I am heading towards the right direction in screenwriting, then I can safely say anyone can :)

    • Shaula Evans Post author

      Hurray, Mayur!

      Some writers like to write long and edit back, some write super-lean and flesh out, and some do a lot of prep to break a story before they sit down to write. (There are myths about writers who write perfect first drafts but I’ve only ever met one–and he stagnated and stopped writing, so perhaps his story is really a cautionary tale.) If you are happy with writing long and paring back, good: keep doing that. If you’d ever like to start with a shorter first draft, let me know, and I’m happy to point you at different techniques that might help.

      > …then all of a sudden a former Bollywood actor, director and producer approached me…

      I’m sorry this didn’t work out but I’m pleased for you and proud of you that you had the courage to pursue a potential opportunity. Well done! I hope it feels super vindicating and whets your appetite for more writing adventures in 2015.

      • Mayur Patel

        It was thanks to your advice Shaula to pursue the producer as I had my doubts (more for the fact that I was wondering why he was asking me, a non experience writer). But he was legit, talked to him and he was a nice guy.

        I can’t wait for the how to write a treatment article to gain some tips on writing treatments, though I have looked at samples and try to compare mine to theirs.

  • Sutinder Bola

    Hello to everyone and thank you Shaula for starting this post. I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say that you are the hostess with the mostess when it comes to organising a get together of writers. I predict big things for shaulaevans.com in 2015.

    Great to hear all of your positive stories from last year. Well done to all of you.

    My creative goals for 2014 were pretty ambitious but I’m really pleased to say I managed to achieve most of them and the ones I didn’t achieve were muscled out by other bigger events in my life. All in all 2014 was a great year:

    1. I wrote a short
    2. I wrote a TV pilot
    3. I launched a script notes service (sutinderbola.com)
    4. I left London and moved to Los Angeles
    5. I signed up for (and survived) a filmmaking program at New York Film Academy in LA
    6. I directed the short I wrote and it’s been entered into various festivals around the world
    7. I launched an independent production company called Peacock Films (peacockfilms.com)
    8. I got married!

    So, 2015 must continue where 2014 left off… this year I want to

    1. Write a couple of feature scripts I’ve been gestating for a while
    2. Write and direct a new short
    3. Write a new TV pilot
    4. Produce the TV pilot I wrote last year
    5. Discover a talented new writer with a kick-ass feature script that I can Produce
    6. Join a writers group
    7. Hang out with other filmmakers and find some likeminded collaborators
    8. Raise my profile as a writer/director/producer

    I wish all of you the very best of luck for your creative and personal goals this coming year. Don’t be afraid to reach for the stars.

    Be safe, be true, be happy
    Sutinder

    • david joyner

      Congrats Sutinder on getting married!
      Saw your short and thought it was really well-made. Hope it leads to lots of good things.

    • John Connor

      Congratulations on all of your achievements in 2014, Sutinder, but especially for number 8 on your list which took me completely by surprise! Mazel tov! Best of luck for 2015, and for every year beyond.

    • Lydia Mulvey

      Holy moly, Sutinder! Congrats on your wedding. Wishing you a long and happy life together.
      And your goals for the year sound sensible, achievable and very smart.

    • Mark Walker

      Wow, Congratulations Sutinder, fantastic news to hear you got married! Very best wishes to you both for now and the future.

      Oh, and well done on the other stuff…. ;-)

      Have a great 2015!

  • Sutinder Bola

    John & Lydia – thank you both! Great to hear from you. Please keep in touch, let me know what you’re up to, I’m happy to read material if you need feedback. Let’s make 2015 a breakthrough year. God bless.

  • Ash Tordiffe

    A little late to this party, but I do really love the idea of being able to set goals for the year, and then week-by-week. AND have them out there somewhere so I can hold myself accountable.
    2014: Only discovered my love for writing last year. At 41. I’m a late starter, but it has literally changed my life. Nothing makes me feel quite as alive. So as a writing year it was pretty incredible. Started with a novel-length fanfic (blush) but when several people told me my writing style there would be very suitable for screenplay I had a go at writing one. Did get a draft down, and learnt so much in the process. Rebooted the story from the ground up as a result. Got it to treated outline stage by the end of 2014, and right now am working on the really fun part – coloring in.
    2015 goals:
    WRITING: I’d love to get this rewrite done and get some real feedback on it. Rewrite and rewrite as necessary until it’s as good as I can get it. THEN I’d like to try and write another feature by the end of the year.
    GROWING: So much to do, obviously – I’m such a baby. And so many potential ways to do it – writers’ groups, books on the craft, webinars, feedback from consultants. I’d like to explore various options. I also would like to work out how to carve writing space into each day. I’m a homeschooling mom-of-four, so it’s a challenge, but I’m learning to be flexible. Ballet parking lots, I find, can work as writing spaces too. I’d like to set up a feasible regular daily routine that I can feasibly stick to.
    Reading: Scripts. Lots of them. Both movies that have been made and other aspiring writers’ scrips.
    Watching: Movies – a little obviously, I guess. But I’d like, in particular, to watch movies and read their scripts together. Look at how the scripts translate. I’m pretty clueless about a lot of the film-making process.
    Supporting: Have discovered the Zoetrope website. I like the idea of a community where I can read and review the scripts of other learning writers, and hopefully get feedback on my work too. Laypersons’ opinions (especially from people who don’t know the writer personally) could be valuable too, I think. (Even mine). I’ll be giving this a try.

    So all-in-all, very early days for me, and still need to discover whether this is something I could pursue (i.e. if I actually have any talent and can develop skills, or whether, realistically, this is something I just do as a hobby).

    2015 is going to be an interesting year!

    • Shaula Evans Post author

      > A little late to this party

      The party is still going strong and everyone’s welcome.
      > I’d love to get this rewrite done and get some real feedback on it.

      I’m working on a cool way to help writers to connect with each other for writing feedback through this site. That’s going to take a while, but in the meantime, when you (or anyone!) is looking for notes or feedback on an outline, a treatment, or a drafts, you’re welcome to say so in the weekly check ins.

      > 2015 is going to be an interesting year!

      It sounds like you had an amazing writing year in 2014. I hope 2015 builds on the foundation you’ve laid to yield much writing success.

Comments are closed.