Rabbits for Screenwriters

You gotta want that darn rabbit, like a wild coyote after … well, you get the idea.

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard regarding creative writing is the “follow your instincts” approach, or “jump down the rabbit hole” your mind leads you to, but, when you chase rabbits, you may not end up with a coherent first draft.

Instead, you’ll probably end up with fodder for an original story.

For screenwriters, the same principle holds true. The problem is, many screenwriters seek a formula, a template, a guidebook, for how to structure their story, forgetting or neglecting the most important aspect of creative writing: the fact that each story is your story, and great, original stories spring from a fertile writing process and a gristmill process: you have to just grind it out.

The fertility of your own creative writing process depends on how you cultivate your mind, and one of the best ways to cultivate your mind and your next story is to give it free reign to explore the potential within you and within it.

Your potential as a screenwriter is released when you go for broke, when you let it all hang out there, when you explode and explore the possibilities for taking your story somewhere new and unexpected.

When you chase a few rabbits along the way to writing your story, writing is a lot more fun. When your imagination is allowed to roam, you’re stretching your potential.

Making structure your story the second step, not the first. The first step is following the rabbit trails of your creative writing mind and worldview, and thereby challenging yourself to come up with something new. Don’t worry if your first draft looks like a ton of slop. Till the soil and plant story seeds. In your second draft (your first coherent draft) those seeds will sprout into a wild garden, and in your third draft you can work on taming the wild garden. The goal, after all, is to grow something fresh and original out of your unique imagination.