Zero Draft Thirty: Get the damn thing done!

T minus 2 days. On November 1, the Zero Draft Thirty challenge kicks off!

Zero Draft is what some writers call the vomit draft… or muscle draft… the just-get-the-damn-thing-done draft.

And thirty is… well… the number 30 which is… oh, yeah… the number of days in November!

Write an entire first draft of a script in November — FADE IN to FADE OUT in 30 days.

Feature length movie screenplay. Original TV pilot. Rewrite a current project. Break a story in prep. Generate a month's worth of story concepts.

Whatever you feel will ratchet your creative ambitions into overdrive, do THAT!

Go here, here, here, and here to learn about the #ZD30SCRIPT challenge.

Check out the comments and see how nearly 400 writers have signed up. And you are invited to join the creative fracas.

By the way, Indiewire has picked up on the challenge. And it's been translated into Spanish. So this thing has legs!

Last week, I focused on story prep, a series of posts to help you break your story before typing FADE IN. This week: The psychology of writing, an exploration of a writer's inner life and dynamics which inhibit our creative output.

Today: Get the damn thing done!

I lied. When I wrote that thing about “There are no screenwriting rules”

Actually there is one.

It’s about first drafts. They are of such importance, I break my own rule about there not being any screenwriting rules by allowing this one rule. And here it is:

Get the damn thing done!

You have to start somewhere. And one of the most fundamental values of having a first draft in hand is it gives you something on which you can work. Your story is no longer vapor, an illusion, some fantasy flitting about in your mind.

Rather a first draft is a tangible object you can print out and feel in your hands… but only when you get to FADE OUT.

Moreover if the adage "writing is rewriting" is true — and it is — then it is imperative to get to that rewriting part of the process. And logic dictates you cannot get to that phase until you have gotten through the first draft.

Well, technically you can rewrite along the way when doing a first draft. Or go back and rewrite what you’ve written starting at Page 1… but that path is wrought with peril. Because a kind of inertia can set in where a pattern emerges like this…

Go back to Page 1. Tinker with the opening. Rewrite. Go back to Page 1. Tinker some more. Back to Page 1…

That’s not rewriting. That’s perfectionism. There is a place for that… but in your final draft, not in the first draft process.

Do not expect perfection… because your first draft is going to be flawed no matter what.

Indeed if you embrace the spirit of a first draft — Get the damn thing done! – that should free you up to pound it out.

You've done the hard work of finding as much of the story as you can during prep. Now it's all about putting words down, scene by scene, page by page, from FADE IN to FADE OUT.

Nothing. Else. Matters.

The first draft is a journey of discovery where no matter what your opinion of the pages are, you find essential truths about your story… what works… what doesn’t.

Keep moving forward even if what you’re writing feels like utter shit.

Finally there’s this: Finishing a first draft is an enormous psychological accomplishment. Because let’s face it, the greatest joy of writing is having written. When you type FADE OUT for the first time in your story-crafting process, you will have written something. In the process, you will have beaten back the Hectoring Voices Of Negativity Inside Your Head.

What are you thinking? Don’t write this story, it’s ridiculous? Who are you trying to kid anyway? Don’t write today, it’s beautiful outside, let’s go play! You are never going to get anywhere with this story!

When you type F-A-D-E-O-U-T, each letter is like a hammer blow to The Voices’ ugly skulls.

Take that, ya’ bastards!!!

So when it comes to this first draft you are writing, remember the only screenwriting rule I believe ought to exist:

Get the damn thing done! Get the damn thing done!!


The Zero Draft Thirty challenge.

November 1: Type FADE IN / In the Beginning.
November 30: Type FADE OUT / The End.

30 days. A first draft of an original story.

Who's with me?

It's cool! It's crazy! It's free!

NOTE: For those of you using Twitter, use the hashtag #ZD30SCRIPT.

Background on the Zero Draft Thirty challenge:

Who's with me to pound out a script in November
Zero Draft Thirty: Write a Script in a Month Challenge
Zero Draft Thirty: Story Prep – Overview
Zero Draft Thirty: Story Prep – Index Cards
Zero Draft Thirty: Story Prep – Character Development
Zero Draft Thirty: Story Prep – Script Diary
Zero Draft Thirty: What Are You Afraid Of
Zero Draft Thirty: The Despair of the Blank Page
Zero Draft Thirty: Your Characters Want You to Tell Their Story
Zero Draft Thirty: Trust the Process


Go Into The Story

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