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Screenwriting: The Art of the First Draft

Lesson 3 of 18

The Importance of a Writing Schedule

Hal Ackerman

Screenwriting: The Art of the First Draft

Hal Ackerman

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Lesson Info

3. The Importance of a Writing Schedule

Lesson Info

The Importance of a Writing Schedule

I'm gonna tell you the second most important thing that you have to do the second most important thing and I want you all every single one of you to recognize the importance of this is the second most important thing anybody can do that is to make a writing schedule I want you to think about this as your job think about writing as your job there's a really cool quote by thomas edison and he says opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work you know we're all thinking about oh inspiration, right? No it's not when when a when a story isn't isn't functioning right? People don't say hey it's, not art ng they say hey, it's, not working I want you to think about in the same way as you would think about building this table, okay? It is a craft it is building is working and I want every single one of you to make a work schedule. I'm not kidding around, I want you just say, hey, what a good idea would be to make a work schedule. I want youto actuall...

y make a work schedule now I don't want you to be heroic about it I don't want you to like, you know, like sometimes on new year's eve, you'll make your resolutions, you know lose thirty pounds cure ebola you know and and find peace in the middle east ok er those of things that will probably not be things that you will be able to do by january ninth but what and in the same way you probably if you are like a single parent raising three children it's probably you will probably not be able to work from ninety for every single afternoon if you have an actual full time job you have that full time job that occupies a block of your time but what is your free available time thatyou will set to working instead of doing some of these other things that we talked about and I want youto actually block out that time it may not be the same time every single day that's all right it may not be four hours every day maybe it's forty five minutes every day but that forty five minutes every day by the end of one week is almost six hours in those six hours think about what you might be able to write multiply that six hours by you know all of the weeks in the year that comes out to three hundred hours that you can actually spend working on something three hundred hours will get you you know a couple of screenplays okay, so you must actually black I mean just think about just make a timecard for yourself think about punching a time clock the most, the second most important thing in making a writing schedule. The most important thing, of course, is thinking to it, and that is why it needs to be realistic, because if you don't put the tush push, it just doesn't get done, and they're kind of sad and pointing thing about it. Is that whatever you don't right, it's not going to be mourned? Nobody will know what you haven't written, nobody except for you, except for you. There is a lovely quote by any law, much that I'm gonna talk to you a little bit. Ah, in a little while, we should it's very pointed, and if you haven't read her book next to my book, it's it's, I've sold more books of hers than the one of mine, but what she says is this, she says, you own everything that happened to you, you're going to feel like hell if you never write the stuff that is tugging on the sleeves in your heart, the story's visions, memories, songs, the truth, your version of things in your voice, that is really why all of you, all of you have to offer us and it's why you were born she's the most I just love reading her book bird by bird is just absolutely wonderful book, and she she's, just great. She looks up around here in this area on dh. She probably has more neurosis than all of us in this entire room put together and describes them with great, great humor.

Class Description

The most overwhelming, yet critical step for the screenwriter is the first draft. Staring at a blank sheet of paper can induce "writers block" faster than any other challenge facing a screenwriter. Screenwriting: The Art of the First Draft will equip you with a roadmap for tackling your initial draft and guide you to the next steps on the scriptwriting journey. 

In this class, Hal Ackerman will teach you how to jumpstart the writing process and complete a written first draft of your screenplay. You’ll learn how to:
  • Organize your ideas into scenes and acts
  • Approach character development and dialogue
  • Take next steps after the first draft is complete
Hal has been teaching screenwriting to students at UCLA since 1985. He has sold material to all the broadcast networks and authored well-known books on the art of screenplay writing and selling In this class, he’ll offer actionable insights on developing your concepts and turning your ideas into a compelling and complete script.

Screenwriting: The Art of the First Draft is your opportunity to learn how to conquer one of screenwriting’s greatest challenges and get your ideas developed and down on paper. 

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Hal Ackerman is the Man!!! Loved this course and will be watching it again. Mr. Ackerman is one of those people who truly wants to help you get better at your craft. He's encouraging yet realistic about what it takes to write a great screenplay. I highly recommend this interesting and helpful class.


After taking a number of other screenwriting courses, I can tell you that Hal Ackerman's course, The Art of the First Draft, is the BEST EVER!! His methodology of teaching is fantastic. He takes you on this journey from start to finish in a way that you WILL KNOW how to write a script by the time you finish this course. I liked how he used examples throughout his training to help you better understand screenwriting. If you really want to learn how to be a good screenwriter, then I would highly recommend taking Hal's course. You won't be disappointed.


I've read a lot of books on the subject and I've been to a few seminars. Hal Ackerman's class is genuinely one of the best and the most helpful classes I have experienced. What makes the class so great is that every concept has you putting pen to paper or fingers on keyboard right away. Ackerman really has tools that are called to be used. Thanks for the wonderful resource.