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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Bourbon

How To Work On Multiple Screenplays At The Same Time

As a writer, I'm constantly juggling multiple scripts and novels. This is not just a personal preference, but a necessity in the business of writing.

New writers always ask me how I manage it, or even why I do it since they have read in multiple books that you must hit perfection or you will never sell----we will talk about this at a later date in another blog, but let's say I don't believe that.

WHY do I do this? There are many reasons; here are some of mine.

1. A script is out on submission

2. I'm working on it in a mentorship or workshop

3. It's always good to have more than one writing sample

4. I'm writing my own project AND have been hired onto a show or collaboration.

I'll break those down.

Being on submission can mean anything from sending to production companies, actors, agents, directors, or contests. Your script is done, and you are sending it out.

But, Stephanie, what about revisions? Well, yes, oh, revisions are NEVER done, so you get your script as good as you can, get feedback (preferably from someone with more experience than you have), make the changes, and then send it out. You will revise and rewrite the entire life of the script, even when shooting. Basically, this means your script has left the building, so to speak, and so you don't want to work on it until you are at the next step.

Working with a mentor or in a workshop is a great way to elevate your work and get professional eyes on your stuff. Most of the ones I have been in and are in have a schedule to stick to, like five to ten pages a week, or you do outlines or scenes and workshop them in class on Zoom or in person. For me, I always choose one script that I focus on in those sessions, usually theatrical releases--aimed for that--but it depends on the specifics.

Having more than one sample of your work is key in this business. And don't forget that it's a business---so many writers seem not to understand that aspect--so you want to showcase yourself and your work. If you only have one strong sample, you are hurting your chances. For me, I consistently am writing TV holiday scripts and ones intended for theatrical or even Netflix/Amazon type. I never send anything to production companies or agents(etc.) until I have at least two written. That way, if they like my writing but not a certain story when they say, "What else do you have?" I can send something else.

When I'm being paid to write but also have my own projects. This one is self-explanatory. I always have my own stuff going, even while working on other's work.

HOW do I do this?

Some mentors and people who have been in the business a long time will tell you never to work on more than one thing at once because it gets confusing. I disagree. I have always managed to make this a way of writing and I do it like this.

Remember being in high school or college? You have different classes that you attend every day or every other day? It's a thing. Science, English, Math, Art, and more?

I compartmentalize that way, and I make a schedule.

For example and this is just an example:

Monday-TV Holiday movie #1 (usually, I have more than one of these going)

Tuesday-Theatrical/feature film

Wednesday-Outline for a new script or paid work and then feature

Thursday-TV holiday #1 and #2

I made mistakes a couple of months ago. I wrote the F word in a Hallmark script, and in another non-Christmas one, I put in the action line all about all the Christmas decorations. It happens, but that's why you read, read again, send out, share, and keep revising.

I'm not saying that you have to work on more than one thing at a time. It's a skill set that takes time to master. I'm saying for me, this is WHY and HOW I do it.

I also work full time, so depending on what "GIG" I have at the time, this can all shift. If I'm on a film in most capacities, this goes out the window, and usually, I'll choose ONE to focus on because the hours in a studio or on set are usually 12-18 hours a day. (Yes, the film industry is one of the most hour-intensive around, but we all love it, or we wouldn't do it).

For novels, it's the same; they just take longer. I do NaNoWriMo every year. I have coached it for over ten years, and I find that when I carve out two hours a day, I can finish 70K words by Thanksgiving.

The bottom line is that you have to decide how you want to work. If you can only focus on one project at a time, or if you prefer to do it that way? That's fine. You do you! We are all different, and we all work differently. I wrote this as people ask me about it all the time.

Tell me in the comments if you are someone who writes more than one project at a time or stick to one.


You can find me on social @stephobourbon

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