Monday, December 01, 2008

10 Ways for a Screenwriter to Procrastinate

Now comes the time of year when I double-dip. There are a lot of things going on right now - the end of the semester, the looming holiday, etc. And, as much as I hate to say it, this blog will be neglected like that irritating guy in the office probably was when he was a child.

With that in mind, I am placing on the blog an article written for another publication.

As some of you know, I am on the board of the Dallas Screenwriters Association. One of the benefits of being on the board is that I get to write an article for every DSA newsletter about whatever the heck I want to write about. So here is the article I am submitting. When it appears in the newsletter, it will be edited and refined into something sweet and dainty. But for now, I present it in the raw, crude form.

10 Ways for a Screenwriter to Procrastinate

The end of the year is a time to reflect on what you have accomplished and look forward to what you plan to do in the upcoming year. Being a writer, I tend to procrastinate more than the average person. But being a creative writer means that I can invent wild and wonderful ways to explain why my procrastination is really a productive use of my time. So instead of making a set of ten New Years resolutions, I am making a list of ten great ways to procrastinate.

1. Creative Screenwriting podcasts
Creative Screenwriting magazine is a great way to read interviews, script analysis, and industry news. The magazine also offers a series of downloadable audio interviews with prolific screenwriters like Charlie Kaufman, Paul Haggis, and the Coen Brothers. Senior Editor Jeff Goldsmith asks insightful, interesting, and entertaining questions.

2. The Treatment Podcast / The Business Podcast / Martini Shot Podcast
KCRW is the Santa Monica-area public radio station, and they feature many radio shows (also available as free podcasts) that focus on the entertainment industry. While the radio station offers quite a bit, three shows in particular stand out head and shoulders above the rest.

The Treatment is a one-on-one conversation between host Elvis Mitchell and notable writers, directors, or actors.

The Business is a weekly summary of entertainment industry news as well as in-depth interviews on certain business aspects of the industry (for example, foreign sales, video on demand, etc.).

Martini Shot is a short, sweet, funny view of what it is like to be a working television comedy writer.

3. Self-reliant film / HD for Indies
For those of you who are passionate about digital film cameras and cinematography, or for those of you who want to your cinematographer about the latest tech toys, this is the website for you. Written by a group of working editors and cinematographers, it goes into great detail about the nuts and bolts of filmmaking. The Self-reliant film website focuses on all aspects of production from creation to distribution while the HD for Indies website focuses primarily on camera technology.

4. Screenplays Wanted
While not updated nearly enough for my tastes, this is an aggregator blog for companies or organizations that are seeking open submissions for screenplays. Think of it as an open job board on the internet.

5. LinkedIn
Part of being a writer is being a professional. And part of being a professional involves networking professionally. LinkedIn is a social networking website (like MySpace or Facebook) but it focuses strictly on business networking. Update your resume, connect with business partners, look for work, and recommend people with whom you have had positive working experiences on this website.

6. Trigger Street
Kevin Spacey’s pet website project is a place for people to upload their screenplays and have them evaluated by embittered, frustrated screenwriters. Ha! Just kidding. This website allows people to join, review screenplays, and upload their own screenplays for review. The advice is free, and sometimes is not the best quality. However, if a writer ever wants to go through an experience akin to getting notes from a studio, this is the place to go.

7. By Ken Levine / Jane in Progress
Writers write, and some of them write blogs.
By Ken Levine is the blog of veteran television and comedy writer (as well as former DSA guest speaker) Ken Levine. Mr. Levine has written for such shows as M*A*S*H and Frasier.
Read about his trip to the DSA here:
Jane in Progress is the personal blog of Jane Espenson, former writer and producer of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and current staff writer for Battlestar Galactica. She has great advice about the craftsmanship of writing and she also lets you know what she had for lunch that day.

8. The Simply Scripts website
This one is recommended with caution. Many of the scripts offered by the website are not scripts at all, but instead transcripts of the film (dialogue only, no stage directions). It also hosts a series of unproduced screenplays. However, if you sift through all of that, there are some legitimate screenplays available for download. If a writer uploads earlier, rejected draft on a personal website or if a studio releases copies of the screenplay to the public in hopes that it will generate Oscar buzz, the Simply Scripts website links to it.

9. The Graveyard Shift
For those of you who are fascinated by police dramas and police procedurals, this website, run by a retired police officer, gives insight into the details of what it is like to work on a police force. Learn about fingerprinting techniques and how CSI labs really work.

10. Hulu
Now that you have been productive on the internet for a few hours, take some time to watch some free television and film on the internet. Remember, when you watch six episodes of 30 Rock, it is not goofing off, it is research.


NoRegrets said...

Aw, we'll miss you!
Is there a separate list of how a project manager procrastinates. I know blogging is one of them.

Tera said...

I totally thought Martini Shot was something else and got excited for like 5.7 seconds!

Oh yeah...TAG! You're IT!

Lee Lofland said...

Thanks for mentioning my blog, The Graveyard Shift.

I kill just as much time writing the thing as you guys do reading it.

Actually, it's fun condensing 20 years into bits and pieces of daily information.

If I can ever help with a question please feel free to write me directly at