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10 Ingredients to Successful Screenwriting: Consistency

In Part 4 or her series: Ten Ingredients to Successful Screenwriting, Marilyn Horowitz shares why it is important to have consistency when writing.

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As the great acting teacher Stanislavski said, “Behavior is character.” In other words, how we behave is who we are, so whether or not you feel that you are lucky, great, self-confident, talented, whatever, the behavior that you exhibit every single day is what will determine your success as a writer. To that end, here are some ways in which you need to be consistent as a writer, because if there’s anything great writers have in common, it’s consistency.

First, you must write every single day.

I recommend keeping a pad and writing down the first thing that comes into your mind as you wake up in the morning, be it a dream or anything else. That way, when you’re inner critic starts accusing you of not being a writer, you can point out, very calmly, “Hey, I wrote!” I do this almost every morning, and I find as a result that the rest of the day usually goes well, because I am not worried about whether or not I‘m a writer. I know I am. It also helps me get past my fears when I sit down to work on my larger writing projects.

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Second, you need to have a plan.

Whether you want to be a professional writer or just do it as a hobby, you need to have a plan and execute it. I find keeping a list helps, because you can check off tasks as you complete them. Like writing every day, making a plan and sticking with it will give you a feeling of confidence and inner strength, helping you move forward on a consistent basis.

Third, find helpers.

It’s impossible for any of us to do everything that we demand of ourselves every single day. Obviously, you can’t find someone to write for you, but you can find people to help you edit, proofread, or to assist you with the process of making phone calls and fostering connections in the business. This is not a sign of weakness but a critical step in understanding that being consistent will require asking for help now and then.

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Fourth, you must trust the process.

In order to remain truly consistent in your work, you must trust that by writing every day, by having a plan and sticking to it, and by finding helpers, you will make progress in your work. Consistency is one of those things that is cumulative, and by believing that you can be a writer, by showing yourself that you can, by behaving as if you can, you will, sooner than you think, succeed in a way that you never dreamed possible.

Now, there will be days when you feel completely inconsistent, either because you’re feeling sad, depressed, lazy, exhausted, uninspired, or whatever. What do you do on days like this? How do you remain consistent under such circumstances? The answer is to find one thing on your list that you can do. So if you can’t write, read something by a writer who writes in a way that inspires you. Or watch a movie by a filmmaker you love. Or do some research, or get out and take a walk and see what other people are doing. Read about your competition. By doing something, anything, connected with your work, you will maintain your level of consistency. Over time, as you become more and more consistent, you will succeed more and more because you will believe that you can.

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