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5 LESSONS FROM SALT-N-PEPA TO LEVEL UP YOUR WRITING

Is ‘Push It’ by Salt-N-Pepa about screenwriting? No. It’s about humping. But it doesn’t mean there aren’t writing-related gems inside the lyrics that’ll help level up your writing.

1: Now Wait a Minute, Y’all - This Dance Ain’t For Everybody - Only the Sexy People

Do you have to be sexy to be a screenwriter? Yes.

Wait, what?

Does sexy mean: Lush hair, a butt shaped like a coconut, and a smile that causes car accidents? No.

Sexy is: Confidence. Passion. Determination. Motivation. Having your own voice.

You got any of those things? Cuz you kind of need at least one to become a successful screenwriter. If you aren’t any of those things now - which one would be the easiest to fake? Be those things until you are those things. Wake up thinking about your screenwriting. Inhale writing. Make your script your lover. Lick the freshly printed pages slowly and with attention to how much pleasure your pages are getting out of it.

Why? Because sex sells! 

No.

Because you can sell anything if you fucking believe in it. Do you believe in your writing or your ability to write? If not, how can you? Learn more if you need to. Write more if you need to. Fake it. Practice. Fake it. Practice. Devote yourself to being a sexy screenwriter - because, there’s only so much room on the dancefloor, and mouth-breathers aren’t allowed.

2: So All You Fly Mothers, Get on Out There and Dance

You know when you’re at a concert, in a bar, on the subway, in your car -- and you’re feeling that beat -- but you don’t move. You just nod your head in a really strained fashion, or hum super softly cuz you’re scared someone will notice. Think you look stupid. Be like, “Really? That’s your song?”

Well, fuck that. Remember the saying:

“Dance like no one’s watching.”

Pivot that saying to apply to you --

Write like no one’s reading.

You can’t game the spec market. Things move too fast now. Trends are born. Trends die. No one knows what the fuck is going to make money. So don’t even bother worrying about it, and don’t listen to anyone who tells you what you should be doing.

Do you. Do your script justice. Write it like you’ll never share it, and then maybe - just maybe, you’ll LOVE what you wrote. And maybe someone else will, too. (And hopefully they'll have a lot of money.)

3: Coolin’ by Day, Then at Night Working Up a Sweat

Got a day job? Do you come home and spend your evenings funnelling wine into your face? Do you work way more than you’re getting paid for in a job you don't give no shits about? If your job isn't your fucking passion (and you're not, you know, saving lives) - then why are you losing bodily fluids for it? Save the sweat for your screenwriting.

How?

If you’re too zonked to write after a hard day’s work, take a nap for 20 minutes. Then wake up and chug a coffee. Get the fuck up and WRITE. Show up to work tired. Lather, rinse, write. Don’t waste your good hours fucking the dog. Spend your good hours writing about someone else fucking a dog. I mean… (Please don't put me on a watchlist, Google.)

Cool it by day on the non-dream-related priorities, and sweat for the shit that actually fills your soul with joy. (Maybe this is why I always get fired?)

Step 4: Yeah, You, Come Here and Gimme a Kiss - Better Make it Fast or Else I’m Gonna Get Pissed

Commit. Get your shit out there as soon as possible. Don’t sit on ideas for an eternity.

Case in point, I wrote a pilot, then rewrote it from the top, then rewrote it from the top again. Then an awesome Netflix series launched that was a lot like my pilot. And I almost threw myself off a bridge. Would I have sold my pilot if I had got it out there quicker? Probably not.

But--

That feeling is the worst. That ‘maybe’. That ‘what if?’

I’m not saying send out or upload half-baked material, but don’t put your script on the backburner and start 5 other screenplays if it's almost done (trust me, I'm a veteran of failed multi-screenwriting). Don’t let fear hold you back. Pretend it’s a deadline. Force yourself to share it, or you may regret not doing it later.

5: Ah, Push it, Push it Real Good

Push it. And push it real good. If you’re just writing as a hobby, then by all means unwind in a rocking chair and twiddle away. But if you want to become a screenwriter, a writer, a something-other-than-what-you’re-doing-now -- you gotta push. Against obstacles. Against resistance. Against doubt. Against fear.

And no, I don't mean be screen-rapey by shoving your scripts into the hands of people who don't want them. I mean throw yourself into it. Force yourself to write. Take criticism and use it to improve.

Have you ever noticed that it’s usually the dingleberries that get ahead of the game, and not the super-talented folks you know? There’s a reason - cuz they’re pushing. They’re too dumb to doubt themselves. They don’t let criticism hold them back. Embrace your inner ding-dong if that’s what it takes, and push it.

Want to push it real good in 2017 and write a feature?

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BONUS for the Ladies: Come on girls, let's go show the guys that we know / How to become number one in a hot party show

Let’s step up our game, gals. Let’s make movies better than the boys. Don’t just aim to make a good film, or write a good screenplay - aim to make a better film, a better screenplay. Use competition as fuel. Don’t relax because it feels like shit’s going off for ladies at the mo'. Use it as incentive to sit your ass down and churn out content.

Push it. Push it real good.