The Three Screenwriting Career Cs — Clarity, Center and Chaos


Sean Hinkley, former script consultant for International Creative Management (ICM), Miracle Entertainment, Nash Entertainment, and Viviano Entertainment, doesn’t believe in the three Rs in screenwriting, but rather the three Cs.

There’s always a lull when you don’t want it, and your days are completely jammed when your task list is full. There are certain times of the year when nothing seems to get done because people are on summer vacation, or preparing for the winter holidays. Maybe you’ve submitted your screenplays to the contests you’ve researched and in the meantime haven’t figured out what you’ll be writing next. Use that down time to create a new blueprint for your goals.

Remember, whatever is going on — or not going on — it’s all out of your control. Here’s how to maximize your downtime. Utilize The Three Cs!

CLARITY, CENTER AND CHAOS

Clarity (What)

No matter where you are in life, you need to have clarity in your purpose and your actions.

What are you goals; what is it that you want out of life? That is your purpose.

Let’s say you want to enter your script into several contests that are months away. That’s a great goal to have, and since the deadlines are down the road, you’ve time to prepare. Ask yourself: How can I get from where I am now to what I want in the future? What process can I create and utilize to get me there? The answers to these questions are your actions.

Without Clarity on either of these points, you will get nowhere. Clarity is like a mission statement — it defines who you are and what you stand for. Create Clarity by finding your purpose and understanding what actions you are willing to take.

Now that you have a goal, and you have a game plan of how you want to achieve your goal — it’s vital to have an organized way of going about it. This brings you to the next step.

Center (How)

All the mission statements and commitments that you make to yourself will be nothing more than meaningless words, unless you can deliver the goods. It’s one thing to say something, but follow through is the hard part. This is where being Centered comes into play.

How will you tackle your goals? Understand what you have going for you, and recognize what resources are at your disposal. It’s about making sacrifices and digging deep into reserves you never knew you had to get what you want.

Going back to the screenwriting contest; if the deadlines are several months away, what do you have to accomplish before then? You may have to ask several people you trust to read your script and give you honest feedback. It may be worth your while to take a weekend writing workshop to polish up your script.

This means you may have to put your weekend party plans on hold for a while. It takes time to perform a re-write. That friend who is reading your script is asking you to return the favor by reading their story; a workshop will cost money so that ski trip may not happen this season.

When you are centered, you are in the middle of your goal, you’ve surrounded yourself with the tools necessary to complete the job at hand. Focus is important, but think of being centered as focus, backed up with a tangible plan. Now that you have some organizational ideas to build upon, let’s see how disorder can actually help you succeed.

Chaos (Focus)

Many people think of chaos as something bad — a time in your life to be avoided. It conjures up images of confusion, destruction or disorganization. Use these perceived negative occurrences to your advantage so that you can create order in your life.

If your schedule is a mess, you’re getting behind on all of your goals, and time seems to be against you — now is the time to start from scratch. If nothing is working, then you have nothing to lose by trying something new.

Reorganize and prioritize your schedule. Are you trying to finish too many scripts at once? Channel your energies into getting one script into great shape. Are you getting the same feedback from your scripts from different people? That’s not a bad thing, so make those changes before you submit your script. Are you finding it difficult to write at night? Wake up earlier or block out time during the weekends to hammer out some pages.

While chaos can create overwhelming negative feelings that can mentally drag you down, recognize that chaos offers an opportunity to change. When life puts a brick wall in front of you, get a sledgehammer.

We all dread it, yet well all need it to move forward towards success. Criticism — Read Between the Lines. Understand what the feedback from a screenwriting contest, friend’s notes or a production company’s cryptic words really mean.

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