lessons in screenwriting from a master free-kicker

The more time I've spent trying to become excellent at screenwriting, the more I've noticed commonalities between my own work, and what anyone trying to be excellent at anything has to do. Take, for example, this video of eighteen-year-old soccer phenom James Ward-Prowse:

The kid's a beast, amiright? And it'd be hard to be more excellent than he is at what he does.

There's a lot here I could comment on, but I'd like to draw your attention to the very first thing he says.

"First thing, I think, um, is key is you've gotta have a positive... positive attitude towards taking the free kick, I think. You've gotta step up to the ball and as soon as the free kick's awarded you know you're going to get positive results."

We've all heard this bit of advice before, but that's because it's true. As insecure as you might be about your general ability and your craft, when it comes time to sit down at the blank page and write, you've got to convince yourself that what you're doing's going to produce the desired results. Even if your rational mind knows you're probably gonna miss more than ever you hit, in the moment you can't think about anything but hitting.

The second point I'd like to make is about routine. 

Find a way that works for you, and then do it the same way, over and over again. Ward-Prowse didn't wake up one day and feel all positive about curving a shot into the goal. He practiced and practiced and practiced. He showed up, so that when the crunch was on he had the confidence that can only be born of muscle-memory experience. Not only did he show up, but he also showed up more than anybody else - staying after practice for hours until he knew he had it.

These are, I think, two of the biggest keys to achieving excellence in any art form: Believe, and Do.

Easy to say, hard to live. But if you really want to make it, they're non-negotiable.


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