Your writing community is your support system. Do you have questions about the screenwriting industry? Could you use notes on your latest draft? Is full-fledged writer’s block plaguing your general existence? If and when you come up against tough questions, it’s important to have the right people to turn to for answers. A writing community is just that. Conversely, you can learn a lot from what other people are writing and asking. The give and take of any social circle depends on the dynamic, which is why it’s important to choose the kind of community that is right for you.
A writing group typically meets once a week or once a month. Everyone brings something, and the group reads it out loud. Usually that’s a scene, not an entire script, because of time constraints.
I’m not sure how I feel about writing groups. On one hand it’s great to be part of a network of perceptive, intelligent people who invest in each other’s stories, but the actual week-to-week procedure/format isn’t appealing to me. Reading a scene independent of an entire script before the script is finished seems counterintuitive to how I write. Think of it like switching from writing mode – which is creative – to editing/analytical mode in the middle of your process. Once I start to criticize what I’m doing, it makes it harder to be creative. It’s like opening the doors to second guessing during the middle of the work.
Plenty of people love writing groups. It’s where they thrive. Hearing their scenes out loud is part of their process, and it helps them refocus what they’re trying to do while they are trying to do it. So, it’s entirely dependent on your personality and what you need from it.
Workshops are formatted in a set number of meetings with a specific intention in mind. I’ve done a workshop with six people, where we all came into it with a completed first draft. We read two scripts per week and then got together to talk about those two scripts. This went on for three weeks, everyone taking their turn. Then there was a rewrite break, where we took those notes, worked on the next draft, and met back up for three more weeks.
I really love this type of writing community because it’s working with completed material and the meeting format makes sense for me personally. Talking out notes in a group where everyone has read the completed material makes for an easy conversation, and you can really dig into the meat of the story. It also motivates me to have deadlines.
Facebook groups, tracking boards, Reddit forums, and the list goes on… There are so many places where you build a rapport with people who don’t have to be physically in the same location as you. Those people range from new writers to professionals (and also a consistent one or two trolls that really have no idea what they’re talking about).
But these are places you can commiserate, talk shop, ask questions, read each other’s material, and so on. For instance, feature film writer Dan Dollar posted his script to a tracking-board.com forum, which was how he got recognized for THE BOY AND HIS TIGER.
Sometimes you need close friends to let out your writing woes or work out an idea. These are people who understand what you’re going through and are supportive but honest. Whether these are brunch buddies or someone you email on a bad day, having writing friends is essential to your motivation and mental wherewithal.