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The Twelve Writing Tips of Christmas

By Marilyn Horowitz

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It’s hard to believe that it’s almost the end of the year.  I felt that it would be appropriate to offer 12 tips to help the screenwriters among us get through the holidays and start the new year off on the right foot.

1.  Forgive Yourself

This is a tough time of year for us writers.  All of our daily routines and schedules are upset by the demands of the season.  To avoid having this derail your writing take five minutes to think through and write down the minimum amount of work you can live with doing. Now commit to doing that and no more until January 2, 2015. Regularity more than quantity is the secret of success.

2.  Take Notes

Part of writing a screenplay is about finding enough conflict.  The holiday season creates the opportunity for more conflict than many other times of the year.  Carry a pad and pen, or use your phone to write down bits of dialogue, difficult situations, overheard conversations, etc.

Click here to read more on creating inner conflict using the holidays.

3.  Read, Read and Read

Writers never have enough time to read.  Take this holiday time to try and cram in as many books and screenplays as you possibly can.

4.  Visit a Museum

Not only is it a good place for people watching, but going to a museum will give you a fresh perspective and provide new images to contemplate as you work.

5.  Go to a Bookshop

Whether it’s at an airport or an old-fashioned bookstore, the experience of looking at different stories organized on shelves is a clever way to stimulate your imagination.

6.  Give Old Clothes to a Thrift Shop

There is something about giving away clothing that brings up memories of the past. Often, these memories can be repurposed into new and terrific story material.

7.  Make a Donation

Giving away money, however small the amount, shifts the way you feel about the world. This act of kindness can also be used as a an exercise when creating characters. Would they give away money?  And if so, to whom?

8.  Write Holiday Memories from the Past

Writing about holiday seasons past can also stimulate new ideas for stories.  It’s fun to do this exercise both for yourself and for the characters in your current screenplay.

9.  Holiday Food Exercise

Writing about food is one of the most potent stimulators of creativity.  Right briefly about a favorite holiday food experience and also a difficult one.  Now ask yourself what your current characters would have done when eating similar food. How will that affect their characters?

10.  Ask Your Characters What They Want for Christmas?

Obviously, if your characters aren’t Christian, you will ask them a different question. The point here is that by finding out what your characters want as a holiday gift, you will find out a lot more about their nature.

11.  “Take” Your Characters Shopping

Mentally “ask” your characters what they would buy and where they would go shopping?  Then compare this information with what you yourself would actually do.  A contrast between our characters and ourselves is another great way to understand what we’re writing about.

12.  Take Stock and Plan Your Writing Year

Take an hour, and sit down with a pad of paper. Write a paragraph assessing your performance so far this year.  Based on this information, plan your work time and set goals for your writing.  By planning, and committing to the plan, you ensure your success.

Here’s to your happy and successful writing.

Happy Holidays!

About Marilyn Horowitz

Marilyn Horowitz is an award-winning New York University professor, author, producer, and Manhattan-based writing consultant, who works with successful novelists, produced screenwriters, and award-winning filmmakers. She has a passion for helping novices get started. Since 1998 she has taught thousands of aspiring screenwriters to complete a feature length screenplay using her method. She is also a judge for the Fulbright Scholarship Program for film and media students. In 2004 she received the coveted New York University Award for Teaching Excellence.

Professor Horowitz has created a revolutionary system that yields a new, more effective way of writing. She is the author of six books that help the writer learn her trademarked writing system, including editions for college, high school, and middle school. The college version is a required text at New York University and the University of California, Long Beach.

Professor Horowitz has written several feature-length screenplays. Her production credits include the feature films And Then Came Love (2007). Her new novel, The Book of Zev is available on Amazon.

Screenwriting Article by Marilyn Horowitz

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