If you had to pinpoint the single mental quality that separates successful screenwriters from those who fall by the wayside, it would come down to one word:
And it’s not what you think. It’s not “ambition,” “connections,” or “talent.”
The word is… decision.
Successful screenwriters decide to become professionals before they actually achieve their desired success. They are already celebrated, respected, and wealthy screenwriters in their minds, before they become so in the real world.
And the most important thing is, they act accordingly. They work like million dollar screenwriters who are in high demand. Do you want to be a successful screenwriter? Then act like it.
And here’s an example of a million dollar habit that you can immediately apply into your life. In fact, this habit is so powerful, that it could quite literally be the “keys to the kingdom.” This is what every successful screenwriter I’ve ever worked with does everyday, as a routine.
Ready? Here it is…
Successful screenwriters schedule time to write, everyday. It’s that simple. But think about it. Do you do that currently? If you have made the decision to be a screenwriter (and you still work a 9-5), then it is imperative for you to schedule time, everyday, to devote to your dream.
For example, “Today, I am going to write from 5am to 7:30 every morning. I am going to shower, get dressed and go do my full time job. Then, I’ll come home, take dinner, hang with the kids, watch a little TV, but at 7:30 to 9pm, I am closing the room, and I am writing for two hours.”
Do you think you can militantly schedule time to write, and follow that schedule as regularly as you eat, sleep, and spend time with your family? Because that’s what successful screenwriters do. The “wannabe’s” complain about not having enough time.
Even though he’s not a screenwriter, there’s a great story about Daniel Day Lewis that is a great example of this. There was an interview of him when he was doing “There Will Be Blood,” and a reporter asked him how he prepared for his character so well.
And his response was that in his home, he has a personal imagination room. And when he enters that room, his wife and children know that he is not to be disturbed until he comes out. Period.
Now, obviously there are some emergency matters that need to be dealt with ahead of time. But outside of that, the number one- I am in that room, I am not to be disturbed. His children respect it, his wife respects it. And in that time, he spends 100 percent of his energy in imagination, and he develops his characters.
And that is what a screenwriter needs to do. A screenwriter also lives in imagination. She has the ability to express her imagination through the written word. So as a professional you need to put up your business hours. That’s number 1. And I strongly encourage you to do that because it’s a habit that you need to develop and become very disciplined to.
Because if your goal is to become a studio writer or television writer, no one is going to call you at the office every day to ensure that you are working. That is your responsibility. You will have deadlines, and they treat you as an adult. If you don’t deliver on those deadlines, you can be sure that your career will not blossom.
So the first step is, decide to become a professional in your mind. Just make the decision. But even more importantly, you must then act like a professional. Which means, if you’re a future million dollar screenwriter, then you must schedule time to write.
About Producer Marvin V. Acuna: Recently executive produced “The Great Buck Howard” (John Malkovich, Tom Hanks, and Colin Hanks), “Two Days” (Paul Rudd, Donal Logue), and produced “Touched” (Jenna Elfman) and “How Did It Feel” (Blair Underwood). To get free video access to Marvin’s famous workshop, “The 7 Habits of Hollywood’s Most Successful Six (and Seven) Figure Screenwriters,” go to http://www.ScreenwritersSuccess.com