8 New Year's Resolutions for Screenwriters
December 29, 2023
2024 is upon us and it’s time to make a New Year’s resolution.
With the Writer’s Strike over, the industry is finally opening up again and this new year is looking to be filled with far more opportunities than the previous one. Regardless of the ups and downs of the film and television business, it’s important to stay motivated as a screenwriter and sometimes a New Year’s resolution can help you to do just that: it’s a personal mission statement and it can inspire you to reach your goals.
If you’re a professional screenwriter, your New Year’s resolution is likely to pertain to your career. If you’re an aspiring screenwriter your resolution might involve improving your craft or making screenwriting your career. We’re all going to be at different stages of our screenwriting journey and your resolution should reflect accordingly.
Below are 8 New Year’s resolutions for screenwriters. One of them might be perfect for you…!!
Finish Your Screenplay
This will probably be the most popular resolution for aspiring screenwriters: finishing your screenplay. Whether you’ve just started or you’re halfway through, a full year is more than enough time to finish an industry-standard screenplay (90 to 120 pages). Write with passion and anticipate the satisfaction you’ll feel once you’ve finished your script!
Create a Personal Work Routine
Sometimes there are various challenges that keep you from finishing your screenplay. In many cases, it’s balancing your writing with financial obligations and you might need a day job (even many professional screenwriters sometimes have to supplement their income with side gigs). Or maybe you have to balance your time with loved ones. Whatever the challenges are, your resolution should be creating a personalized work routine that enables you to write effectively around your schedule.
Create a Brand for Yourself
Maybe you’re a professional screenwriter but not quite A-list yet. If this is the case, maybe your resolution should be to create a brand for yourself. The more you stick out to people in film and television development circles, the more likely they’ll remember you for potential jobs. What are your interests? What makes you unique? Whether it’s on YouTube or a podcast, putting yourself out there can help you develop a brand.
Circulate Your Screenplay
Let’s say you’ve finished your script or you’re in the homestretch and you’re sure to finish it this year. Well, if this is the case you might not want to waste your resolution on the inevitable: your script is done or as good as done. That’s great. Congrats, but what’s next?
Another possible New Year’s resolution is what’s next: this is the year you’re going to start circulating your script to industry professionals. Many times this begins with submitting your script to a screenwriting contest (like Final Draft’s Big Break Screenwriting Contest). Or maybe you want to start shopping your script directly to agents and management companies? Make it a point this year to do your research, choose the right path, and do your best to get your script into the hands of the right people.
Start Writing Another Screenplay
But what if you finished your script and are currently circulating it to industry professionals? What should your resolution be in this scenario? How about starting a new screenplay? A new year is a time for new beginnings and one of the best ways to stay in screenwriting shape is to always be writing. Like any other skill set, the more you write, the better you’ll get at it. Plus, the more scripts you have under your belt, the more options you’ll have when navigating an ever-changing marketplace.
Stretch Your Talent
Perhaps you’ve written a few spec scripts in a certain genre and things haven’t been clicking yet with industry professionals. If this is the case, maybe your resolution should be to stretch your talent and try writing a different kind of script from the ones you’ve been writing. Maybe even do a little genre-bending (a popular trend in film and television today). The important thing is to keep an open mind. As stated above, a new year is a time for new beginnings and perhaps a new direction for your writing.
In addition to writing more, another great way to stay in screenwriting shape is to read more. Screenwriters need to read produced screenplays (for both classic and modern films), but it’s also important to just read in general. Whether it’s an in-depth web article, a nonfiction book, or a novel, the more you read, the more your mind will become accustomed to words and how to best use them in your own writing. So if you think you don’t read enough, this could be a good resolution for you.
Don’t Give Up
Finally, we return to staying motivated as a screenwriter. Whether you’re a professional or aspiring, motivation in itself is one of the biggest challenges for a screenwriter. Oftentimes you’ll feel like the odds are stacked against you and after enough setbacks or people passing on your work, you’ll consider throwing in the towel.
Speaking from my own experience, it’s times like this you need to do anything you can to stay inspired and keep going. There were many times I thought my screenwriting days were over, but I kept writing and circulating scripts and eventually, new opportunities would present themselves. The only time it’s ever truly over is when you give up, so don’t give up. Your writing will only improve and you’ll be laying the groundwork for future opportunities if you persevere with your screenwriting. So if the above New Year’s resolutions don’t apply to you and it’s simply a matter of staying motivated and persevering, your resolution should be not giving up.
Bonus Goal: Try Final Draft 13!
New year, new software! If you're ready to start writing your first script of the year, why not do so in the newly-released Final Draft 13?
Cool new features include emoji support, writing stats, Navigator 2.0, Custom Outline Editor, a new Typewriter option, and so much more.
I find that saying something out loud has a profound psychological impact — even if it’s merely a mental trick — and this is one of the reasons New Year’s resolutions have persisted in society. As written above, they’re a personal mission statement and when you’re trying to reach your screenwriting goal, it’s important to define your resolve.
Happy New Year. Keep writing and keep believing.
Written by: Edwin CannistraciEdwin Cannistraci is a professional screenwriter. His comedy specs PIERRE PIERRE and O’GUNN both sold with more than one A-list actor and director attached. In addition, he’s successfully pitched feature scripts, TV pilots and has landed various assignment jobs for Universal, Warner Bros, Paramount and Disney.