Fourteen Days

I’m not participating in the 14 day screenwriting challenge.

This is mostly because I don’t think it’s do-able. (At least, not for people who haven’t been training for months in high-altitude screenwriting training camps in the mountains.)

90 pages over 14 days is about 6.5 pages a day. That’s a hard slog for a professional writer working from an outline. A hundred pages would be more than seven a day. In addition to the day job.

I’m just not that good yet.

Larry Brody – who’s worked in television for an awful long time (and has the credits to prove it) averages seven pages a day working on a pilot or TV movie.

This is a guy who has had a hell of a lot of practice.

Joe Straczynksi (credits) wrote 10 pages a day rain or shine for many many years.


Trying to keep up with these guys in your first race is gonna kill ya. And if you haven’t got an outline (or twenty years of practice so you can just internalise the whole process), then it’s goodnight vienna.

In December last year I got into a pissing contest with a screenwriting friend who, like me, didn’t have a feature spec. A complete Draft Zero, from nothing, in two months.

I spent the first month outlining and the second writing.

Thanks to the outline, I could then manage an average of four pages in two hours of an evening. Just about enough to get the draft finished in a month and still have a day off here and there. But it was still bloody hard work.

(William, of course, left his to the last minute and ended up writing 40 pages on the day of the deadline. And his was still better written than mine. Bastard.)

This last two months (fortmonth?), we’re at it again. And with a fresh competitor in the race.

I’m in the end stretch, and I’m doing five pages a night in two hours (if I’m lucky) or three (if I’m not).

The effort’s damn near killing me, but I think it’s do-able, thanks to the outline.


So I have this to say to everyone that took up the 14 day screenwriting challenge:

You’re mad.
But I like you.

Good luck over the next four days.

4 responses to “Fourteen Days”

  1. You are right about the outline etc, that’s key and mine had holes galore and completely derailed me.

    There was actually a time when I had no difficulty completing up to 10 pages a day, but that’s when I had unlimited time and fewer distractions and commitments. Now I think my natural pace is more like 3-5 pages a day and sometimes that’s a hard slog. Writing everday and fitting it around other work, domestic duties, social life is just difficult.

    Good luck with your pissing contest though! 3 pages a day over a month seems a sensible pace.

  2. Well, if I knew it was impossible before I started, I probably couldn’t have done it!

    Actually, I may not get it done yet, but if I can stick to my current average of around 8 pages a day, I may just prove you wrong.

    Fingers crossed.

  3. I’d love for you to prove me wrong, you mad fool.

    All your beers are on me for an evening if you can. How’s that for inspiration for the last push?

    Come on… Danny could do it…

  4. I know what you mean, it does take dedication. I made an effort to get going on a spec first draft, and came out the other end with a complete script (I stopped myself writing finished there). The process went like so:

    #1 Put 2 beers in the freezer
    #2 Wait 1 hour so they are extra cold
    #3 Take beers and laptop up to bedroom with the intention of writing for two hours
    #4 Start up laptop and then Movie Magic
    #5 Play Spider Solitaire for about 45 mins drinking the first beer
    #6 Realise I have not written a word
    #7 Read what I wrote last night a few times
    #8 Change a few things here and there (this will take me to the hour mark)
    #9 Open the second beer and write between two and five pages for about another hour and a half
    #10 Take flack off the wife because I’ve taken 1/2 and hour longer than I said I would.

    This went on for about 4 weeks, but I did finish so that can’t be bad. I also had an outline on paper, so I kinda knew the way things were going . If I was making it up as I went along I may not have finished.


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