Some Thoughts of an Aspiring Screenwriter

It is early Sunday evening and my wife and I are in the beautiful city of Nashville, waiting to be seated in one of our favorite restaurants, the Loveless Cafe. We’re visiting for the weekend from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, as we are both soldiers stationed there. Nashville will be our home once we both retire from the Army in the next few years.

As we sit out here on a park bench and wait to be called in, I think a lot about my dream to become a screenwriter once my Army career is finished with, or if I’m fortunate, even sooner than that. A long time ago, I was introduced to the expression, “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. “As I’ve worked on screenwriting for the past couple of years, I’ve realized something very quickly…

…screenwriting has become that job.

To say that I love to write would be a gross understatement. When I first learned of that expression as a young soldier, I thought it was a load of hot garbage. This kind of thing was surely impossible. A job that exists that doesn’t feel like work? No way in hell was that possible.

Over the last few years, I’ve finished writing a few movie scripts and a couple of television pilot scripts as well. My latest one I finished two months ago was my first attempt at a sitcom pilot script. That one is an attempt of a spinoff of a show currently on the air. I am currently working on another sitcom and this one will be completely original.

I think about the times I’ve worked on these scripts and some of my feelings as I’ve completed them. I’ve probably done most of my work in the middle of the night, but there is really no time in particular that I can say I would prefer. I basically work on them as often as I can and I’ve done pretty well, considering that I have an extremely busy life as a soldier, husband and father of two children whose lives I’m very active in. 

Still, there’s always room for improvement. Even if I ever do become a screenwriter, I still will never feel like there aren’t improvements to be made. There always are.

Whenever I watch something, whether as a movie or television show, I look at it a little differently than before. I try to look at it from a writer’s standpoint. Before, it was easier to just call something “good” or “bad,” but now a I’m a little more constructive. I greatly appreciate and respect the work that goes into any movie and television show, especially from the writer’s standpoint. Rather than saying something is “bad,” I’ll say that maybe something “didn’t work for me” and I’ll think specifically about why that was the case.

Yes, I’ve even gone as far as to get pen and paper to take notes. For example, my favorite television show right now is ABC’s Nashville. Many times, I’d end up watching a particular episode more than once just to be able to take these notes.

The show comes on Wednesday nights where we live, but most of the time, my wife and I DVR it and don’t watch until Friday or Saturday night just because of how late it comes on. As soldiers, of course we’re up very early, and 11 p.m. is a bit late to be going to bed as we’re often up at 5.

I used to delete the episodes after watching them, but now I keep a lot of them and do my notes. My wife and I will watch that first time, but then I’d watch again just for myself. I’d take notes on things like the length of time in each scene, how much dialogue each character speaks in each scene, how many scenes there are prior to each commercial break, how certain characters enter and exit and basically just whatever else I may feel I need to take notes on. Some may think a lot of it is unnecessary, but at this stage, I think I should be taking more notes than less. I can never have too much. On one hand, yes, I can enjoy simply watching Nashville, but on another, I feel it’s necessary to sort of “study” it as well, especially since I feel the writers do an amazing job, along with of course, the actors.

I don’t really know how close I am to making my dream happen, but for now, I will continue this as I prepare to watch the Season 4 premiere on the 23rd. We can’t wait. Hell, forget waiting until Friday or Saturday for this one. I’ve already told my wife we’re just staying up on Wednesday night for this first episode.

Nashville isn’t the only show I’ve done this with as I’ve done it with movies as well. But I feel that it is necessary as I would love to write for television also. In the beginning of this, I didn’t really “lock on” to anything in particular, so I’ve certainly done this more with Nashville than anything else I’ve watched. It’s such a wonderful feeling to not only watch an amazing show, but to learn a lot as I’m doing so.

I look at how much work I’ve put into what I’ve done so far and even though very few people have seen my work, I still feel that none of it was waste of time. I can honestly say that even in the late nights and early mornings, along with the many of other times I’ve worked on my scripts, I’ve had so much fun doing so. Some of you may think that it’s absolutely unreal that someone could actually “have fun” writing this much, especially with scripts that haven’t yet gone anywhere. Writing is extremely boring to a lot of people. But for me, I’ve had a blast. Getting into the “zone” to write these scripts for one, but the more I write, the better I feel I become, and in combination with studying movies and television shows as I watch them, I honestly couldn’t ask for anything more, at least at this stage of things.

Well, there’s our buzzer. It’s dinner time. Thanks for reading.

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