Screenwriting : How many screenplays in a year? by Stephen Floyd

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Stephen Floyd

How many screenplays in a year?

A lot of posts ask about time needed to write a single screenplay, but what is your production rate overall? Like, how many screenplays can/do you write in a year? I have challenged myself to write one screenplay every six weeks for 12 months and so far it is going well. Could you keep up this pace? Or would this be tapping the brakes for you?

Imo Wimana Chadband

Me, I'm now trying to close the year off with four. I'm now on the 4th. Hoping to stick with it and get it completed on time.

Surina Nel

Im on the 3rdfor the year ,but I also work full time and tar care of my kids . Also did novel in between

Craig D Griffiths

I do stories I do a few a year. There are normally two winners that become screenplays

Jim Boston

Stephen, you're heading for an eight-or-nine screenplay year, and that's phenomenal!

Me, I started six screenplays here in from scratch and the other five were actually refinements of scripts I did during the 1980-1994 period. (And I'm happy with my 2019 output.)

And I'll feel happy if next year sees me do at least three screenplays.

All the VERY BEST to you, Stephen!

Ally Shina

Stephen, for me it just depends on how labour intensive a screenplay is. I write some of my screenplays faster because they are simpler, but my current screenplay is so intricate it's going to take me much longer than usual to finish it. I do however sometimes create deadlines for myself so I don't get in the habit of writing at my own leisure because the industry will expect me to stick to deadlines. But why not give myself time to do my best work when writing spec scripts by taking my sweet time about it too...

Tennyson Stead

Typically, I write three new screenplays a year... but that's not including plays, rewrites, or other works.

Dan Guardino

I don't write screenplays anymore.

William Martell

When I worked full time in a warehouse, I wrote 3 screenplays a year. That was 1 page a day. Days off I did rewrites. It's hard to imagine not being able to write a single page every day.

Jerry Robbins

I did 6 this year; working on #7 now, but I don't think it will be ready by years end.

Stefano Pavone

I did 3 this year, averaging on about 20 pages a day.

Doug Nelson

I write (& produce) only shorts now usually about tw0/three a year. I have a FL in the works that I've been promising ny Agent for the past year or more.

Gilberto Villahermosa

And how many of those six have you optioned or sold? There's a big difference between writing six screenplays in a year (which any writer can do) and writing one great screenplay (which very few writers can do). It's not about the writing, its about the rewriting. I had two books published this year and several dozen articles - all of which I was paid for. And yet that was easier than writing a screenplay that sells.

Stephen Floyd

Gilberto, I find a great deal of value simply in the writing. My 9-in-12 goal won’t result in anything produceable, more than likely. I’m doing it to study my technique and my habits writing under deadline. And honestly, there’s lots of one-off writers who hit it out of the park with a single screenplay and have struggled since, so don’t discount those who write simply to get better because that’s where the long-term investment is made.

Jerry Robbins

Gilberto, I was not bragging, all I did was answer the question. Since you asked, out of the six, three are currently under shop options by two different producers, one of scripts won Best Screenplay at the Wild Bunch Film Festival (a festival just for westerns), and I have sold a screenplay this year (although I wrote it last year), which begins shooting in the spring (a feature) - and while I have not had two books published, I have written over 480 audio dramas over the past 24 years - all were produced by my audio company, then published and released by my publishers Brilliance Audio and Blackstone Audio, and many of those dramas ran on Sirius XM Radio for 8 years. Writing screenplays is the hardest thing I've ever done - I work at it full time (I can afford to thanks to my little audio dramas), and I average 16 to 20 hours a day writing. I don't sleep that often and never have. Regarding re-writes, I average about 4 re-writes per script with coverage done on the first two drafts. Hope this answers your question. Cheers

Monica Edwards

How does everyone have the actual time to write this much? I got one finished a year at best.

Sarah Gabrielle Baron

STephen! WOW! you're a machine! THe best I've ever done is 3 months...but that's not full time. I can do about 3 days nonstop, then I need a few days break, then back at it.

PJ Edwards

I wrote a lot of scripts early but I am finding new things now that I am taking time with my latest project.

CJ Walley

A lot of my time is taken up with production and development these days but I used to knock a few specs out a year and a load of short scripts too. Writing shorts was really powerful as it helped me develop story after story. I was doing all that around my freelance marketing work at the time.

I write stuff that's quite dialogue heavy and requires little research. I also pre-write a lot to cut down massively on drafting.

The better I've gotten at my craft, the faster I've gotten with turnaround. As mentioned, last month I completed an action-thriller feature in three weeks under assignment which is currently getting coverage. I just finished a vomit draft for a drama feature I was approached about twelve days ago and hope to see filmed in the next six months. I also recently completed a detailed treatment. so that's three treatments and two feature scripts in eleven weeks with back and forth and waiting on producers.

I think I could produce around six features a year comfortably, providing they were quite light in terms of research and there was some glimmer at the end of the tunnel regarding production. Money is a hell of a motivator. Anything more than that and I think I'd start to burn out creatively due to the pace but that's just me and my own quirks.

Robert Russo

I don't understand the point of trying to crank out stories in a specific time frame. I spent 3 months just thinking about one of my stories (rather complex plot) but I didn't begin writing until I was confident the structure of the story was going to deliver this complex plot in a smooth way. I think it truly depends on the story. Never sacrifice inspiration/emotion in the story just to meet a self imposed deadline.

Doug Nelson

When you're starting out, I think shorts are the best way to hone your writing skill and understand the craft of scripring. The other nice thing about them is that you can produce them yourself or with a small cadre of like minded souls - plus you get to see how your writing translates to a filimac vision

Stephen Floyd

Robert, the purpose for me is two-fold. First, deadlines very much matter in the world of paid screenwriting, so it is important to know how you, as a writer, perform under those conditions. Second, sticking to a deadline teaches a writer about their limitations and what they’re actually capable of. Sometimes we take a long time to flesh out a story because it is complex and requires a slow burn, other times it’s because we’re been trained since first grade to believe writing is an intense, time-consuming process thereby enabling procrastination. When I worked for a newspaper, I could write 3,000 words a day like it was a walk in the park, so I’m eager to find an analogous performance level in screenwriting.

Jacob Buterbaugh

I'm aiming for 1 short (which I'll produce and direct) and 3 low budget genre features next year.

Pamela Bolinder

Two features in 2020.

Jorge J Prieto

What works for you. If you have the creative juices and story ideas flowing, don't stop.

Hank Biro

I'm lucky if I can begin writing and finish one feature and a handful of shorts in one year. This year I completed three first drafts for scripts I started writing late-2017. Next year I hope to finish at least four more WIPs.

M L.

I wrote 3 in 2019. Each one is about 4 months with coverage, notes and rewrites. But all three are ready to go out. I tried to make it 4 but this new one is taking more time.

Dayna Noffke

I wrote two this year, along with writing a few shorts.

Matthew Barker

Oh dear! I feel grossly inadequate! :-)

Max Adams

When I was working full time and going to university full time my goal was two full length feature scripts a year. I was pulling that off and that's where I was when I broke in. There are a lot of variables in play though. What length scripts are you writing? What medium? Are you working full time or going to school full time? Do you have a family or commitments at home? There's no way in hell I could have written a script every six weeks while carrying 16 university units and working full time. What's your life load? What medium are you writing in? Features? TV? And, finally is the the writing any good? Anyone can spit out a hundred pages over a weekend. Are they good pages? Maybe so. Some people are so god awful talented and fast, they can literally throw out pages that are stellar on the hoof. TV writers especially have to be really fast, both at first drafts and at revisions on the spot. They have crazy deadlines. They also write in a shorter form though. It's way easier to put together a 60 or 30 page episode on the fly than it is to put together a 100 to 110 page feature on the hoof.

Gilberto Villahermosa

Why not focus on quality rather than quantity? I once heard that there are more than a million screenplays floating around out there in the world. Only a small percentage, however, will ever be optioned or produced. Success is based on how many screenplays you've optioned and/or sold - not on how many you've written. It may take you, working with a professional script consultant, as long as a year to rewrite a screenplay so that it's ready for prime time. And even then it may never see the light of day. But the folks that read it and pass it around will know that you are capable of writing well. I once heard that Hollywood is filled with folks with great ideas, but not with great writers.

Gilberto Villahermosa

So be a Great Writer!

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