Happy New Year PSA!
By Jessica Spring Brown, Screenwriter and Board Member of Phoenix Screenwriters Association
I don’t know about you, but I love the start of a new year. Whether it starts in September, think school, or January, when the calendar reminds us we are getting older. For me, it is all about cleaning up and organizing my writing desk, getting my supplies refreshed, taking stock of where I am at in various projects, and dreaming about my next great tentpole I want to try and write. Ah, a fresh new year!
But for some writers, a fresh new year is filled with fear and doubts like a blank page of a new project. What if I fail or my writing stinks? What if I waste a whole year of my life on something no one will buy? Yes, for those writers, a fresh new year can be a dreadful event, nothing to celebrate.
Well, fear not! Together we will tackle all your fears about writing and the many common challenges that come up for writers by building our tool box. Over the past two years I have been reviewing a book per month on the craft of writing.
With the new year, I want to take one writing challenge every two months and share with you some books that would help you with that specific writing challenge. 2023 is the year we will build a super tool chest for writers like those huge tool chests you can buy at Home Depot or the one that your mechanic has that says “mechanics is my life.”
Getting organized and motivated to jump into a new project (or keep working on a current project). Build habits that create a writing lifestyle.
January and February
Atomic Habits by James Clear: I reach for this book as a reminder on how to build those tiny habits that turn into a lifestyle. I want to live the life of a writer, I need to build the habits that create that lifestyle for me. This book shows how to do that one small habit change at a time. It works for other areas of your life too. Also, James puts out an amazing weekly newsletter that is free.
Put Your Ass Where Your Heart Wants to Be by Steven Pressfield: One of his newest books and one that sings to me when I feel a big case of procrastination coming on. This book is quick on reading and huge on motivation. Plus, Steven never lets you off the hook. I also love The War Of Art and Turning PRO as well as The Artist’s Journey. All of his books wrap their arms around you and quietly tell you “Get to Work. You can do this.”
The 12 Week Year for Writers by A. Trevor Thrall, PhD: I LOVE a deadline. I truly do. It keeps me on task and focused on getting the writing done. This book helps me to divide up my year into 4 mini years where I push to get the work done and not second guess my writing. I admit I work best under a deadline, even though I prefer not to have one. I just get it done and then I am happy. Image doing that four times a year.
The 90-Day Novel, the 90-Day Screenplay and The 90-Day Rewrite all by Alan Watt: These books contain honest feedback and guidelines on what you should be doing each day of the 90 days. Each are full of questions you can be asking yourself every day to help you get through your project. It teaches me to stick to the program and make every day of writing count. It feels like bootcamp for writers with a really nice camp director.
The Coffee Break Screenwriter 2nd Edition by Pilar Alessandra: Do you know how to tackle a really huge writing project? Ten minutes at a time. This is a go to for me throughout the year. I love the quick fixes and exercises Pilar shares with the writer to get through a writing challenge. I use this book when setting up a project at a high level to wrap my head around how I want to timeline the writing out once I have the big chunks of the story figured out.
So, the first ten tools to consider adding to your writer’s tool chest. There are many more books out there that focus on getting started, staying motivated, time mapping out your project. If you discover one or you have one that you
really like, I am always up for hearing about it. I have room in my tool chest for more tools. I bought the super big one at Home Depot and I have some empty drawers left.
Happy New Writing Year Fellow Writers!
Enjoy the Write…..
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to share your favorite books on the craft of writing or you want me to cover a specific challenge. Reach out if you also need some motivation for your project. I don’t bite.
And don’t forget our new Table Read program for Screenwriters and Playwrights. Come join us! It’s the write thing to do. Sign up through EventBrite or Meet Up at Phoenix Screenwriters Association. And be sure to check out our Website: Phoenix Screenwriters Association.ORG. You can find the archive of PSA Newsletters there if you are looking for more tools.