Welcome to the latest and greatest installment in my Creative Screenwriting article series!
As always, this post is about optimizing your creativity through improving your writing process, and you’ll find practical tips intermixed with creativity studies when relevant.
1. Find Intrinsic Motivators
Creativity research indicates that finding stories you care about boosts your creative and inspirational capacity.
In the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Todd Thrash and Andrew Elliot of the University of Rochester conducted a study in 2002 called Inspiration as a Psychological Construct. In it, they described inspiration “as a general construct characterized by evocation, motivation, and transcendence.”
“…inspiration was found to correlate positively with the work mastery component of need for achievement but negatively with the competitiveness component, which reflects the typically mun- dane (nontranscendent) desire to outperform others. Similarly, inspiration was found to correlate positively with intrinsic motivation but negatively with extrinsic motivation”
(Elliot & Thrash, 2002)
So instead of trying to motivate yourself with reasons that correlate with external (extrinsic) motivators like “if I finish ten pages of my screenplay, I’ll treat myself to [reward]!” or “I need to finish this script so I can be rich and famous,” instead shift the focus to the interior.
The Exercise: Write down ten specific things that move you emotionally. The loss of a loved one, political injustice, LA traffic — anything that makes you feel something. By creating a story out of something personal, you now have a personal reason to be invested in this script. Your organic motivation to tell this story and share with others what moves you will aid your creativity and help you find inspiration at every turn.
2. Be Your Character
I just completed a script with my writing partner called “Love Letters from the Dance Floor,” and in the brainstorming phase I actually entered a ballroom dancing competition in order to get a feel for what it must be like for the characters.
Aside from really enjoying my newfound hobby, I also gained insight into details about what it meant to be a competitive ballroom dancer as I samba’d across the floor. (Yep. Samba’d. It’s that kind of morning.)
The Exercise: Spend a day and be the character you want to write about. Try out their passions, visit places they would go, and try and think like they would. [Read more…]