Smarter Story Structure (online course)

Write Addictively Entertaining Stories—Faster

With my online course, Smarter Story Structure, you’ll learn practical tips for overcoming plot problems like these in your screenplay or novel:

  • the story starts too slowly (according to a Goodreads survey, 46.4% of readers abandon novels for this reason)
  • the story doesn’t get going until halfway through (this happened in almost a quarter of scripts read by a studio reader in a year)
  • the middle “runs out of gas” (even John Grisham admits this is a tricky issue)
  • the climax doesn’t deliver fireworks, merely sparklers
  • the story is the right length…but isn’t a good read (uh-oh)

Enroll today and learn how to use story structure to get on audiences’ good side. Click on the button below to learn more:

Screenwriting Zen: 5 Teas for Your Writing Routine

Screenwriting Zen: Glass Teapot & Tea

We all have different screenwriting tools that we can’t live without…a tricked out Powerbook laptop for writing, the perfect pen for editing, our favorite software for formatting a screenplay, a screenwriting how-to book we refer to at least once whenever we’re in the middle of a screenplay draft…

But you might not consciously be aware that your writing routine is also essential for boosting screenwriting productivity:

If you show up to meet the blank page at the SAME time every day, the words come easier. So simple, so easy, and so powerful.

What does your writing routine have to do with tea? Well, I’m of the persuasion that tea is one of the best substances on earth. It tastes wonderful, without any sugar or milk added, and is rich in antioxidants which are essential to maintaining your health. I like nothing better than to relax with a steaming cup of freshly brewed tea before I start my screenwriting sessions. It really primes the creativity pump!

All teas are not created equal, however. So I thought I’d write a post about which teas best match the time of day you generally start to write.

The Early Riser

Ah, the early riser who can get up early in the morning to write in peace and solitude. How I wish I were one of you! I don’t know if there’s any research to back this up, but I think this is the most productive time to write. If you have the willpower to set your alarm clock 1-2 hours early, then do it! (According to The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Screenwriters, the super-prolific Ron Bass, writer of Rain Man, My Best Friend’s Wedding and Snow Falling on Cedars wakes up at 4:30 AM!).

To get your brain going at this early hour, I recommend caffeinated teas like English Breakfast and Earl Grey. Both are great with milk and raw cane sugar, honey, and/or stevia.

Here’s a random side note about artificial sweeteners: they’re bad for you. If you can, avoid them. Google around, you’ll find the research. I should note however, that I’m not a health practitioner, and my comments regarding artificial sweeteners and the benefits of tea should no way be interpreted as medical advice.*

I’m not great at describing tastes — I find descriptions of wine particularly amusing. A red wine with “hints of cassis with a touch of pear” leads to nothing but confusion for me. But it bears mentioning that Earl Grey is usually infused with a touch of bergamont oil which gives it a citrus note. If you don’t like strong flavors, I’d opt for the classic English Breakfast instead.

The Lunch Hour Screenwriter

The lunch hour writer is someone who uses their lunch break to max. Lunch hour writers are certainly admirable, as they focus on nurturing a scene in their screenplay instead of partaking in office gossip.

Screenwriting Zen: A steaming cup of chai

Achieve writing zen with a steaming cup of chai

Chai tea is perfect for these efficient people. Its array of spices including ginger, cinnamon & clove can aid with spurring the metabolism, which is key to avoiding a mid-day slump. It also tastes great iced. So you can prepare it the night before and spend all of your lunch break writing instead of brewing.

Bonus: its ethnic heritage can impress fellow workers, especially if you bring it in a snazzy stainless steel thermos!

The After Dinner Screenwriter

After dinner writers like to leave work behind and enjoy a good meal before embarking on their screenwriting adventure. And peppermint tea is the perfect accompaniment for that writing session. Why? Its digestive properties will help avoid a post-prandial slumber, and yet, because it’s caffeine-free, it shouldn’t prevent you from falling asleep later. It’s also very relaxing, which aids in leaving behind the stress of your day job and transitioning into screenwriting mode.

Bonus: according to Mountain Rose Herbs, it is said that “carrying a bit of peppermint on your person allows safe journey to travelers.” So bring some with you to your next writer’s conference!

Screenwriter on a Deadline!

Screenwriters on a deadline are usually stressed out because they’re rushing to perfect their screenplays before submitting them to the Austin Screenwriting Festival or to the Nicholl Fellowship competition.

Or maybe they’ve made contact with someone in the industry and are rushing to give a light polish to their bank of screenplays. (Read Starting a Screenplay: the 80-20 Secret to find out why I suggest you write at least 5 screenplays before trying to sell 1.)

Whatever the reason, rooibos tea is perfect to help these screenwriters as they get their big break. Rooibos tea, or red tea, has a high concentration of antioxidants (maybe even greater than green tea!) which aid your immune system. You can’t get too much immune-boosting when you’re under stress.

Bonus#1: there are rumors that rooibos tea suppresses hunger pangs, so it’s great for the stressed (and now overweight) screenwriter who has sacrificed exercise for their craft!

Bonus #2: often when you get stressed, your skin breaks out into rashes. Rooibos will come to your rescue because you can apply it directly to your skin to soothe it.

You can get this caffeine-free tea either plain (which is less expensive), or flavored with vanilla. And while plain rooibos is delicious, with the vanilla, it’s mighty tasty.

A note on screenwriting craft & inspiration

I hope you like this post about screenwriting “zen.” It’s a little different than some of the articles I’ve been writing, which are mostly about screenwriting techniques. But it’s part of my goal to write posts that focus on different ways to nurture your creative muse, so that when you DO sit down to write your screenplay, you feel inspired to use your craft.

Be warned: this information is not to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any ailment or disease.

Glass Tea Pot by A Girl with Tea

Chai Tea by Vivek Raj

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