Welcome to 101 Creativity Hacks for Screenwriters! This is – what the hip, tech-crowd calls – a “living document.” (Meaning we’ll continue to update it with tips as we come across them. And I’m TOO LAZY to come up with ALL 101 Creativity Hacks at once.)
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Let the Screenwriting Creativity Awesomeness Begin!
Creativity Hack for Screenwriters #1: Focus on “Learning” NOT “Writing
Turns out our brains HATE to be stressed out. (And writing is stressful.) But the brain LOVES to learn. (Builds what are called “dendrites.”) So whether yer in the midst of composition or coming up with a new story idea try to anticipate what you’ll LEARN from the exercise. (It’ll open up a whole new side of your brain.)
Creativity Hack for Screenwriters #2: Look at Vintage Magazine Covers
Just Google “vintage magazine covers” and you’ll see a treasure trove of cool, weird – and sometimes offensive – magazines from days gone by. (Rumor is: Matthew Weiner got the idea of “Mad Men” simply by looking at old versions of “Look” and “Life” magazines.)
Creativity Hack for Screenwriters #3: Talk to an Expert (About Almost Anything)
There’s nothing quite as inspiring as talking to an expert who is passionate, if slightly obsessive, about their area of expertise. (Even if you don’t know much about it.)So reach out to sources through a site like HARO, or simply contact obsessed blog owners, and see if they’d be willing to chat about their field for a possible screenplay idea. (They WILL say yes.)
Creativity Hack for Screenwriters #4: Read a Newspaper From a Different Town (or Country)
I LOVE checking out newspapers from places I’ve never heard of. (I once spent a week following stories in the Nunavik community of northern Canada. OnlineNewspapers.com is a good place.) You’ll get a quick sense of a community’s values, worries, concerns, obsessions – and the things they struggle with each day to keep going. (Sounds like a story idea to me.)
Creativity Hack for Screenwriters #5: Think Up the Weirdest Genre Mash-Up You Can
If the creators of “SharkNado” can ride that weird mash-up franchise all the way the SyFy TV-movie bank…then you certainly shouldn’t feel limited. Come up with the craziest mash-up of story genres you can. (Who knows…a network just might buy it?)
Creativity Hack for Screenwriters #6: Embrace Improvisation
Musicians know the power of improv, but us writers can often forget. So, instead of going over your beat sheet for the 25th time, do a bit of “riffing” and see what you come up with. (Worst case: you get a few extra pages that day.)
Creativity Hack for Screenwriters #7: Use Empathy for a Creative Breakthrough
We can get so caught up in our own head we forget there’s other FRICKIN’ people on the planet. So take a few minutes and write from someone else’s EMOTIONAL point-of-view. You might just find a HERO for your next story.)
Creativity Hack for Screenwriters #8: Welcome “Bad” Ideas
Even “good” ideas will suffer if their execution is less-than-stellar. So why stress? Instead, take your WORST idea and see if you can have FUN turning it into something halfway decent. Who knows: you might just get something AWESOME from it.
Creativity Hack for Screenwriters #9: CrowdSource Your Next Writing Project
Try writing a colloborative project with some WRITING colleagues. (Or perhaps set a group assignment you all have to COMPLETE.) Mary Shelley got “Frankenstein” out of something similar – to get something 1% as good would do ya just fine.
Creativity Hack for Screenwriters #10: Get a Bit of Isolation in Your Diet
Thoreau wasn’t the only author who flourished by WRITING “away from the madding crowd.” Pick a writing spot FAR AWAY from your local Starbucks – or your family – and schedule some isolated, Walden-like composition time of your own.