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  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.

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I like to write on a computer, but a lot of writers swear that writing long-hand stops them from waffling. My preferred program is Final Draft. Final Draft is quite expensive, so it may not be your first choice for your first screenplay, but if you plan on doing this for a living, this programme more than makes up its cost in time spent spacing for character, parenthesis and dialogue. It’s also the industry standard for most studios and production houses. So consider buying it with your first professional pay-check.

In Final Draft, I choose the ‘Warner Bros’ layout. I set the page to A4. American scripts are on shorter “letter” page size. That may be why their scripts often go up to 120 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 many great clues on how to how to succeed in the writing process. Most were to do with research, notes, and re-writing, but the one tip I considered my most valuable was Work Pyjamas. When Easy Virtue came out she bought me a pair of Peter Alexander‘s to celebrate. I still consider them my badge of honour. I love them as much as the yellow Lamy pen my father gave me for my 21st birthday.

There’s a bit of a fashion for P.J.’s – models and rock stars trying to look smart (or homeless.) The underlying rule of the pyjamas 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. Made from cotton, they’re also lighter and more absorbent than sweat pants, which is particularly important for those hard to write scenes.

Mine are a pair of black and white checked strides with a draw-string and two side pockets. I pair them with a black Bond’s T-shirt. I swear these pants make me smarter.

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

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 (hygienic, fresh, never used before) with you.

Here. Bum glue for everyone.

It’s 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.

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.

Sheridan Jobbins is an Australian screenwriter, author, script mentor, script editor, producer, director, journalist, and television presenter.

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