Christine Conradt: It’s that obsessing thought, it truly is. I’ve seen so many writers who will sit there and go over the same thing over and over and it’s just not productive at all.
Film Courage: Right, okay so you’ve seen…I wanted to talk about once the draft is done. I think we’ve heard from a few writers that some of them do like 3 to 5 pages a day. So forgive me, because I’m not in that space writing scripts but how are you able to do 15 a day? I mean that’s fantastic.
Christine Conradt: Well, first of all I think over time you just get better, right? So it’s that 10,000 hours, once you put that in and you become the expert in whatever you’re doing, you can recognize when things aren’t working, you can recognize when they are working.
For me to do the 15 pages, you can’t waste time at all on obsessing over if you like this scene or if you like this line of dialogue. It is, this is it, it’s on the page and you move on. And then everything is about coming back and refining it later. But getting it out is a much more productive use of time than getting stuck in sort of that turmoil of not knowing if this is good or if you want to go this direction or whatever. You have to make a decision and move forward. And when you do that you tend to get a draft done faster which gives you more time to go back and kind of remold that draft.
A lot of writers also turn in their first drafts. And I think it’s really important to never show anyone the first draft, to always go back at least once, and clean things up because it makes such a difference.
Film Courage: Well, yeah…I was curious what happens after the four weeks? You haven’t read it, let’s suppose you have a 110 pages or so (give or take), I’m assuming then that you’re combing through it?
Christine Conradt: Well, the 110 would be in 3 weeks. So I give myself that last week to take a couple of days off, right? So at 15 pages a day what is that for a 100 pages? I mean you only really need 10 days to write the initial draft and then the rest of that is going back and cleaning it up and moving your act breaks and tweaking dialogue and that kind of stuff.
Film Courage: Oh…and then you throw in the 3 days to let it breathe for a little bit so you give it some space. Then you come back and BAM! It’s 4 weeks and you have a meeting with someone. That’s how it works?
Christine Conradt: Yes.
Film Courage: Oh okay, interesting. So at 4 weeks you are showing it to this person and what is that process like?
Christine Conradt: So I send it in and it depends on usually if it’s a very first draft, the producer is going to read it first. They need to make sure that they’re on board and when you go to the studio or the network then, you go as a team with the producer. So they are happy with the draft so they usually give you a set of notes first. I implement those notes and then once they’re happy, then it goes to the network or the studio and we get their notes back. By the time they read it we already know that the producers have approved it for budget and they like it and you’ve kind of got that person in your corner too, if there is something to fight for like if they don’t agree with (I don’t know) whatever creative decision you’ve made, the producer is already on board and understanding why you did that and they’re sort of on board with you. It makes it a more productive meeting also to have that then just like a bunch of different people giving random different notes. Those are the worst and I’ve had that experience, too. But it’s not the best way to do it. It’s better to kind of like go through the process correctly because then the drafts get better.
Film Courage: I’m wondering if we can go in closer to the day that you do 15 pages. What time do you start? What is it like doing those 15 pages?
Christine Conradt: I usually get up early, so I usually get up around 6:00 a.m. and I start writing right away. I mean I take a break for lunch when I get hungry and otherwise I’m really just focused on getting those pages done and that’s it. I don’t know how to tell you anything different. It’s just the day and it’s a lot of sitting in front of a computer.
Film Courage: So at 6:00 a.m. you’re already like [going]?
Christine Conradt: I get more done in the first 2 hours of my day than probably the last 5 hours of my day so whatever I am doing, if I’m at the gym, it’s a better workout in the morning, if I’m here working, I’m more productive (I’m getting more written). So I try to take advantage of those hours. I just happen to be a morning person.
Film Courage: Right, no…I get that. We’ve talked to other people about this. I think you have less distractions then whether it’s just knowing you are up before a lot of other people or whatever it is.
Christine Conradt: And it’s controlling distractions. I mean you can check email every 10 minutes if you want, or check Facebook every 10 minutes if you want, but you have to force yourself not to do that because that really interrupts your ability to focus.
Film Courage: And you’re forcing yourself not to go back and reread, right? Because then you’re going to be stuck on a scene?
Christine Conradt: Exactly.
Film Courage: Now was that always the way for you? Did you go back and reread stuff and did you learn?
Christine Conradt: I think I developed that over needing to be able to finish these projects more quickly and find a more efficient way to do it. Because I remember when I was in college and writing, I would do this thing where I would get obsessed with the writer’s block. “Oh, I can’t get through this scene. This is holding me up.” And it’s just a waste and that’s fine when you’re writing as a hobby. It’s not really fine then either, but you know at least you can manage it. When you have deadlines and you’re getting paid and people are expecting scripts and there’s a crew waiting on you so they can shoot it. Yeah, you don’t have that luxury anymore, so you just find the most efficient way.
Question for the Viewers: What’s the most script pages you’ve written in a day? How many of those pages stayed in the script?
Maggie’s dreams of starting a family of her own begin to take shape after she and her husband, Jonah, purchase their first home together. However, the pretty picture’s frame cracks when Jonah loses his job writing for a newspaper soon after moving into the new house. Unable to handle the pressure, Jonah disappears and leaves Maggie to deal with the fallout by Writer/Director John Goshorn. Watch it on Amazon here!