Dipping your toe into the screenwriting waters.
I had my “aha” moment. A few of them actually. Suddenly, I didn’t need to write — I had to write. What started as a slow crawl, became a freight train. Every unoccupied waking moment turned toward the new idea in my head. A small seed of a story that was blossoming into what I thought was a novel. I had to get it out.
The catch? I was working full-time in Sales, with zero professional writing experience, education, or network. The big question came…where do I even start?
Find a place to learn, a community, and a “home” for your writing
I was living in Boston at the time and after a quick search, I found Grub Street, a local community and educational institute for writers. At this point, I hadn’t considered the intersection of my two passions: writing, and film. In my younger years, I had always read and written books, so my brain went right there. The closest highway. Get the idea out of your head and onto the pages of a novel. I enrolled in my first Grub Street class and was off to the races.
Learn the craft, via free or paid courses
Being pretty formulaic, I took a beginners course (Becoming a Writer — Starter Kit), and then a follow-on course for fiction (Intro to Fiction). All the thrills of writing came back. The buzz of the first class and all of the wonderful content. The vulnerability of creating something and reading it aloud or hitting submit. Of it becoming something real, tangible, and in the world. The butterflies of receiving feedback and seeing how others consumed your words on the page, and the new life it lived in their eyes.
I dove deeper from there, taking courses in my specific areas of interest on nights and weekends — one in sci-fi and another in dystopian writing. It was here that I had my “screenwriting moment”.
The writing in my dystopian class really unleashed something in my mind. I kept seeing these storylines in my head — so many different and exciting paths the novel I was working on could take. In what felt like a flash of creativity and inspiration (or possibly the bleak reality of staring down the road to writing the last few chapters of my novel), I decided to see how the idea would take shape as a film.
Follow your interests and what excites you
The next step was to find a screenwriting course. I chose an online class (side note — this is all during the COVID pandemic) that I found for free at East Anglia University and I was hooked. In fact, I still have the printed completion certificate on my wall. A constant reminder of how quickly I fell in love with screenwriting and didn’t look back. From then on, I was all in.
Commit and fan the flame
As the course approached completion, I thirsted for more learning about the craft. I started listening to podcasts and reading blogs. Another burst of ideas filled my brain. I went on a genre movie binge. Every non-working, waking moment was full of writing notes on my iPhone and binge-watching movies in the genre of my best ideas. I knew I needed more.
I began researching university programs. I applied for a few and was accepted into the UCLA Professional Screenwriting Program Online, full of working professionals and a just-right fit for my busy work schedule. It was the best thing that has happened to my screenwriting journey — so far — for so many reasons. The course is paid, and not insignificant, but the investment was worth every penny. It is a two-semester, integrative program that transformed me as a writer and gave me a community of writers I admire and rely on for motivation, inspiration, and feedback. I could write an entire article on UCLA alone, which I will. Stay tuned.
The sum and summary of it all? Listen to Nike. Just do it. When you feel that pull, hear that whisper, get those goosebumps, see that spark…don’t ignore it. If the desire to tell the stories in your head is true and real to who you are and what you want to create in this world, you won’t be able to for long.