I’ve worked as a screenwriter for over 15 years. And while I have a few tricks up my sleeve when it comes to writing, I’m also big on taking breaks. In fact, I’ve found that regular breaks can help me work more effectively and creatively than if I don’t take them at all.
So when we were starting the new semester here at the Screenwriters’ Studio with our Alternative Breaks Program for screenwriters.
My goal was to make sure that everyone was able to get outside of their routine and break up their monotony in some way or another! Here are some ideas for how you can do that too:
|Takeaways from “14 Alternative Breaks for Screenwriters”|
|1. Discover unique ways to take a break from screenwriting to recharge your creativity and inspiration.|
|2. Explore alternative activities that can help you overcome writer’s block and boost your storytelling abilities.|
|3. Learn how engaging in diverse experiences can enrich your writing and bring fresh perspectives to your scripts.|
|4. Find out about screenwriting retreats and workshops that offer opportunities to connect with other writers and industry professionals.|
|5. Consider exploring new places, cultures, and environments to broaden your understanding and enhance your storytelling depth.|
|6. Unwind and rejuvenate by incorporating relaxing activities and hobbies into your screenwriting routine.|
|7. Delve into literature, art, and other art forms to gain insights and inspiration for crafting compelling narratives.|
|8. Embrace the power of mindfulness and meditation to enhance focus and clarity in your writing process.|
|9. Experiment with collaborative screenwriting projects or partnerships to invigorate your creative energy.|
|10. Attend film festivals and screenings to immerse yourself in cinematic experiences and stay updated with industry trends.|
|11. Take breaks that involve physical activities to improve overall well-being and channel newfound energy into your scripts.|
|12. Reflect on personal experiences and emotions during breaks to infuse authenticity and depth into your characters and stories.|
|13. Engage in storytelling through other mediums, such as theater or podcasting, to explore different narrative techniques.|
|14. Recognize the value of breaks as a necessary part of the creative process and embrace them without guilt or hesitation.|
1. Hate The Blank Page? Get Off Your Computer And Go Get Something Done In The Real World
You don’t have to be a screenwriter to understand the challenges of writing.
If you are like me, then you know that sometimes the blank page is your enemy. You can stare at it for hours without a single idea coming to mind. You may feel like your ideas are too small or insignificant and that no one will care about them anyway. But there is hope!
There are plenty of ways we can get out of our heads, put down our pens and computers, connect with others and experience new things. Here is a short list:
- Go for a walk outside
- Meet up with friends for lunch or coffee (and don’t talk about writing!)
- Volunteer for an organization that interests you (volunteer work often leads to new ideas!)
- Read more books (or watch movies/TV shows on Netflix)
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2. Go To A Coffee Shop With A Pen And Paper
The most important thing you can do when you’re stuck is to take a break from the computer. “In order to get the most out of your inspiration and creativity.
You need to be able to separate yourself from your work,” says Melissa Wuske, a screenwriting professor at California State University, Northridge who has written scripts for The Lizzie Borden Chronicles.
“That doesn’t mean you should shut yourself off completely—it just means that you need some space from it.”
So here’s what I suggest: Go sit in a coffee shop or library with pen and paper (or even just use a notebook app on your phone). Sit back, relax and people watch for awhile.
Write down ideas here and there if they come up but don’t force anything just observe what’s happening around you for about 15 minutes or so (or however long it takes until someone comes over asking if anyone needs help).
Write down whatever comes into your head as well as any observations made during this period maybe something about how much people love their dogs or kids.
Maybe something about how everyone seems like they have their own secret language? Then once that time period is up, go home and get back into writing mode!
3. Take A Short Walk Around Your Neighborhood
There are a few things you can do to stay active while getting some fresh air:
Take a short walk around your neighborhood. You don’t have to go far, just around the block or even just down the street. This is an easy way to get yourself moving and may also help you realize that there’s more to see than just what’s on Netflix!
Walk in the park if it isn’t too cold outside. If there aren’t many parks near where you live, try checking out one of the many options offered by cities like New York City (Central Park), and Chicago (Millennium Park).
San Francisco (Golden Gate Park), Austin (Zilker Park), or Los Angeles (Griffith Observatory). No matter where you live, there should be some sort of park nearby that’s worth checking out.
Walk with a friend or two! It’s always better when someone else is there for support especially if they’re trying something new too! You may want to suggest something like going on an alternate break together.
So that everyone has something fun planned without having to worry about their safety or comfort level alone; however this isn’t necessary as long as both parties agree beforehand that they’ll be doing something different together during their time away from work such as exploring nature via hiking trails near those areas instead.”
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4. Read A Book You’ve Been Meaning To Get To
If you’re like me, there are several books that you’ve meant to read for years but have never gotten around to.
In fact, I have at least 25 such books on my shelf waiting for me. Perhaps it’s time to finally start reading them! There are many benefits of reading in general: it helps us learn about other styles of writing and can inspire us with new ideas for our own stories.
But the main thing I love about reading is how relaxing it is; when I’m not working on my scripts or taking care of other life responsibilities.
I find myself spending all my free time binge-watching Netflix shows, playing video games, or watching sports instead of reading which makes me feel guilty because I know how important it is as a writer who wants to improve his craft (and because of reading really does make me happy).
5. Find An Exercise Class That You Like And Make It Part Of Your Routine
Exercise is good for your mental health. Exercise is good for your physical health. Exercise is good for your creativity.
Exercise is good for your relationships. And exercise is also good for your career, because it helps you build confidence and strength that will help you make more money as a screenwriter in the future!
But don’t just take our word for it if you need some inspiration to get started on a new routine, here are five reasons why exercising can be so beneficial to writers:
6. Listen To A Soundtrack Or Audiobook For Inspiration
If you’re writing a screenplay, your characters might be listening to music as they walk through the city streets, or watch a movie in an old theater.
They could be driving down a winding road in the middle of nowhere at night, or perhaps they’re sitting on their couch in front of their favorite TV show. If any of these scenarios seem familiar to you, then using soundtracks and audiobooks may help create that feeling while you write!
Listening to music while writing can be really helpful because it helps set an emotional tone and sometimes even inspire some new ideas for scenes! Here are some recommendations:
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7. Clean The House Or Apartment Where You Work
Cleaning can be a good way to get your mind off your work and give yourself a break from staring at a computer screen all day. You could also think of it as an opportunity to find new ways of organizing your space, which will help with efficiency when writing or editing later on.
8. Make A Movie Date With Yourself
Let’s be real it’s hard to find time for yourself as a screenwriter. You’re busy cranking out pages, meeting with producers and directors, catching up on your Netflix queue…the list goes on.
But what if you stopped thinking about it as taking some time away from work but instead viewed it as an investment in your career?
Take a break from writing and give yourself permission to watch a movie or two (or three!). Think of it this way: If you add just one new word into your screenplay every time you watch a movie.
Then over the course of ten weeks’ worth of downtime spent watching films and TV shows which is often all we need between drafts you’ll have written 10% more material by the end of the year!
A film buff myself, I’ve always found watching movies inspiring even when I’m not working on my own projects; there are so many lessons to learn from these creative works that can help guide us through our own creative journeys.
9. Create A Different Playlist For Every Writing Session
Music can be a great way to get into the mood for writing. You can create a playlist for each writing session, and listen to it as you work.
Music can help you focus on the task at hand, and it’s also been shown to help people feel more creative. So if you need some inspiration, try putting on some tunes!
The right music might even give your story a unique voice by using lyrics or instrumental elements that evoke specific emotions and images in your mind.
If this is something that interests you, check out our article on how musicians use music in their storytelling (and what screenwriters can learn from them).
10. Get Out Of Town For A Weekend Or Take A Longer Vacation
The first step to getting away is to decide where you want to go. Do you want to be in the middle of nowhere? Do you want it to be somewhere near friends or family? You know your own needs better than anyone else, so make sure that they’re met in some way.
Once you have a destination, start mapping out how much time will be required for travel, whether there are any events going on that weekend, and if there are any activities at the destination itself (like museums).
It’s important not only for your sanity but also for keeping costs down that all these things fit into your budget and schedule.
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11. Rearrange Your Office Furniture (Or At Least Clean It)
Rearrange the furniture in your office, or at least clean it. Organizing and cleaning up your space can be a nice way to step away from the screenwriting marathon, and can help you get back into a productive mental state as well.
The act of opening up drawers, organizing papers and pens, and dusting off surfaces are all things that will make your work environment more comfortable, efficient, inspiring and fun than it was before you started working on them.
It’s also an activity that almost anyone can do: if you want to take care of some clutter but don’t know where to start with decluttering or organizing your home or apartment (or just want some tips), check out these 15 ways to declutter when life gets busy!
12. Call An Old Friend Or Colleague And Talk About Old Times
- Call an old friend or colleague and talk about old times.
- Find someone who hasn’t seen you in a while and make plans to catch up. This can include friends, family members, or even collaborators from the past. You might discover something new about yourself by seeing how they’ve changed over time.
13. Have Dinner With People Who Don’t Work In Film Or Television
One of the best things you can do for your career is to get out of your comfort zone and meet people who are doing things you aren’t. You can learn something new and also expand your network, which will help you land jobs in the future.
And if nothing else, it’s a good way to relax and recharge so that when the next project comes around (and it will), you’ll be ready to jump head-first into it with renewed energy.
14. Taking Breaks Is Just As Important As Getting Work Done, So Plan Accordingly!
Plan for your break. It’s important to know that you’re taking a break and not just an extended period of time where you’re not doing anything at all. Make plans with friends or family members, or try something new (like going to the bookstore, or reading). Have fun!
Break up your day into smaller chunks. Instead of having one big chunk off in the afternoon when it’s easier to get distracted by things like Netflix and YouTube videos, try breaking up each hour into 15 minute chunks instead.
Then set aside 2-3 of those 15-minute chunks every day for yourself. This way, you’ll feel less overwhelmed by long stretches without any work done throughout the day and more motivated by being able to look forward to these small blocks coming up soon enough in your schedule
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Whether you’re a writer or not, having a break from your regular routine is essential for creativity.
Not only does it give you time to recharge and refresh, but it also gives you an opportunity to get away from the pressures of everyday life and find inspiration in the world around us.
Take advantage of these alternative breaks for screenwriters and see how much more productive they make your writing sessions!
Alternative Scriptwriting by Ken Dancyger and Jeff Rush Short Description: An insightful book exploring alternative scriptwriting techniques and breaking traditional rules in storytelling.
Alternative Scriptwriting: Successfully Breaking the Rules Short Description: Delve into the art of breaking rules in scriptwriting and achieving success through alternative storytelling.
10 Screenplay Structures That Screenwriters Can Use Short Description: A helpful blog post presenting 10 screenplay structures to boost creativity and enhance screenwriting skills.
What topics does “Alternative Scriptwriting” cover?
“Alternative Scriptwriting” explores innovative approaches to scriptwriting, breaking traditional rules, and achieving success with unconventional storytelling.
Is “Alternative Scriptwriting” suitable for beginners?
Yes, “Alternative Scriptwriting” can be beneficial for both beginners and experienced screenwriters looking to explore new storytelling methods.
Where can I purchase “Alternative Scriptwriting” by Ken Dancyger and Jeff Rush?
You can find “Alternative Scriptwriting” on Taylor & Francis’s website.
What does “10 Screenplay Structures Every Screenwriter Can Use” offer?
“10 Screenplay Structures Every Screenwriter Can Use” provides screenwriters with 10 diverse and effective screenplay structures to enhance their craft.
Can I access “10 Screenplay Structures” for free?
Yes, you can read the blog post “10 Screenplay Structures” on the ScreenCraft website without any cost.
Costantine Edward is a digital marketing expert, freelance writer, and entrepreneur who helps people attain financial freedom. I’ve been working in marketing since I was 18 years old and have managed to build a successful career doing what I love.