Ok, today is the day to don the jim-jams, and apply the bum glue. I have a story out-line, characters, a couple of jokes planned – now all I need is to write the damn thing.

I think it goes without saying that I like to write on a computer. (A lot of writers swear that writing long hand stops them from waffling.) My preferred program is Final Draft (Version 7, but I’m probably about to upgrade to 8.) Final Draft is quite expensive, so it may not be your first choice for your first screenplay, but if you’re going to be serious about scriptwriting, this programme will more than make up its cost in time spent spacing character, parenthesis and dialogue. It’s also the standard programme for most studios and production houses. So maybe you can buy it with your first professional paycheck.

In Final Draft, I choose the ‘Warner Bros’ layout. I set the page to A4. (American scripts are on shorter “letter” page size, which is why their scripts often go up to 120 pages, but I’ve had several American contracts demand the script to be between 85 and 115 pages.) I then import (cut & paste, nothing too fancy) my story line, and start to lay it out in scenes.

Oops! I seem to have started writing my screenplay.

Technically a method of communication is all you need to start, but I have a couple of other tools that I swear by:

PYJAMAS:

My mentor, the Australian writer Alison Nisselle, gave me a number of great clues on how to how to succeed in the writing process. Most were to do with research, and notes, and re-writing, but her most enduring ‘tip’ – the one I consider my badge of honour… the one I now love as much as the Lamy pen my father gave me for my 21st birthday… is (are?) my Work Pyjamas.

There’s currently a bit of a fashion ‘rage’ for P.J.’s – but that is just models and rock stars trying to look smart (or homeless.) The underlying rule of the pyjama is that, like a suit, it’s something to wear to work that required no thought. These are not sleeping vestments, but sensible work wear. Comfortable, warm, cosy. Flannel is best, because it breathes and yet retains your body’s warmth. Flannel P.J.’s are both lighter, and more absorbent than sweat pants – which is particularly important for those hard to write scenes.

I have several pairs, but my favourite (the Gold Standard for Work JimJams) are a pair of black and white, men’s Peter Alexander strides that Alison gave me for writing the film, “Easy Virtue”. They have a draw-string and two side pockets, and I pair them with a black (cotton) Bond’s T-shirt. I swear these pants make me smarter.

Apparently you’re not supposed to wear them outside, and this means they act as a ‘security bracelet’ that stops you leaving your home when you’re writing. But fuck that. I work in café’s and restaurants, parks and beaches. I even work in the mountains and the country – and accordingly, my work pyjamas go where I go.

BELLS

Because I try to set myself 40 minute writing increments, I like to set a temple bell to sound when the time is up. You can download one to the length you need. As with meditation, this releases you from having to worry about real world paradigms such as whether you’ve done enough work, or if you’re about to miss your meetings.  Of course, you’re allowed to write longer than the bell if you can.

BUM GLUE:

Which means I now need some bum glue. My friend, Tony Melov, gave me my first ‘tub’ of this advice. I now share it (hygenic, fresh, never used before, of course) with you.

Here. Bum glue for everyone.

It’s very simple to use. You apply it to your bum. You apply your bum to the chair – and voila – you’re stuck there until you reach your goal.

Today’s goal is page five. Yes! I am that far behind.