Productivity Tip: Manage Your Script Pipeline

A screenwriter’s journey goes a little something like this:

  • 1st screenplay: You write vicariously and without an outline, and what you end up with is often times gets thrown away. It’s bursting at the seams with passion and there are gems that stand out, but the concept is lacking and it’s not quite a movie.
  • 2nd screenplay: You read a few screenwriting books, and decide to do some more planning. You probably try out the Save the Cat beat structure, or some other three-act variation. This screenplay is much better due to the outlining, but it’s still lacking the oomph of conflict or the narrative drive of tension and suspense. You may even re-write this script, and if you do you’ll realize how momentous the task is.
  • 3rd-5th screenplays: This is where you get the hang of things. You do more outlining, spend much more time working on ideas, research, and prewriting in general. You’re able to shorten the time between the rough and final drafts through simplifying your concepts, planning and developing your ideas and characters, and by simply learning more about your craft. Some of these screenplays are going to be pretty damn good.
  • 7th and beyond: You’ve streamlined and perfected your writing process.

Thinking like a professional writer means managing your story pipeline. The industry folk in Hollywood are always going to be asking, “what else have you got?” or “what are you working on now?”

So what are you working on now? What about tomorrow? What scripts are you rewriting? Which ones are you putting on the shelf? Which ones are you prewriting, or researching?

A Screenplay Pipeline can help you answer those questions. If you’re past your third screenplay or beyond, pipelines are especially helpful as your career picks up speed.

You’ll be amazed what you can accomplish with a little planning.

Page 85 has developed a cool Pipeline tool within the “My Stories” feature. This is what my Pipeline looks like:

3 Tips for Managing Your Screenplay Pipeline

  • Don’t overload your pipeline. Shelve anything that you aren’t devoting time to in the near future. I make a point of only having a max of two screenplays at each stage.
  • Use your pipeline to push projects to completion. If you’ve been keeping a script in the “writing” or “rough draft” phase for over six months while you wait for the ‘perfect time’ to write it, understand that you’re probably procrastinating. Keeping track of your pipeline helps you realize when a project isn’t moving forward.
  • Productivity requires planning. Hold yourself accountable! It’s easy to slack off or procrastinate. With little tools like this, you can make sure you’re spending enough time within your story worlds doing what you do best: creating.

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