The better you are at screenwriting, the easier it should be.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t exactly work like that. Certain parts of the process get easier, but there is another issue at play:
The higher the quality of the writing, the more it requires of the writer.
An experienced screenwriter can churn out formulaic scripts without much sweat, but no one dreams of writing to mass-produce widgets on an assembly line. We’re driven to capture a small piece of the indescribable and pin it down for a moment, like you’re answering a question the audience never thought to ask but now can’t get out of their head.
Doing that is really hard.
And it’s all up to the writer. At Arc Studio our job isn’t to do your writing for you; our job is to make the process more intuitive and provide you with tools that help you instead of distracting you. That means you can accomplish more with the same amount of effort. That results in more writing and better writing.
We’ve put together this guide to show you the ways we support your writing by keeping you motivated and on-task until your script is ready to share with the world. Feel free to take what works, ignore what doesn’t, and adapt it to your needs.
- Become a power-user with one shortcut
- Set up a writing schedule to write consistently
- Stay motivated by keeping score
- Minimize Procrastination
- Avoid distractions
- Focus Mode
- Sprint Timer
- Take regular, scheduled breaks
- Don’t get distracted by your own ideas
- Avoid Google rabbit holes with the AI Research Assistant
Become a power-user with one shortcut
Shortcuts make us efficient, but they can be hard to learn. With Arc Studio you only need to remember one shortcut:
K on Windows)
This will bring up the quick commands palette. Type what you want to do and select the command from the list – this will run the command. If you use the same commands over and over, we show you the actual shortcuts next to the command, so you will learn them naturally.
Set up a writing schedule to write consistently
Arc Studio let’s you set a writing schedule. Choose the days of the week you plan to write on (try to write regularly, ideally every day, but be realistic). If you haven’t written by 5pm on a scheduled writing day, we will send you a reminder via email. Remember, even a little writing can help keep your momentum going.
Of course, if you’re on vacation (or busy with other things in life), you can stop receiving these reminders at any time.
⚙️ To set up your writing schedule, click the Gear Icon and select ‘All settings’ and ‘Notifications.
Stay motivated by keeping score
When you work on your script, we send you a report the next day to keep track of your progress: We let you know how much you wrote and also how many days you’ve been working in a row. It may sound silly, but keeping track of your streak can be hugely motivating. We will also keep your streak going if you miss every once in a while, but only if you don’t miss twice.
To receive progress reports, toggle ‘Send me progress reports the following day’ to ‘On’
Most people regard procrastination as a plague, something that they want to get rid of completely, but it can also be an important signal. Procrastination often happens when you kinda know what you need to do next, but not exactly. That uncertainty can be overwhelming, and the thought of how much effort will be required to figure it all out can be paralyzing. But instead of walking away in frustration, take it as a sign that you haven’t fully figured out your story and return to your outline.
A strong outline guides you through the writing process while allowing for flexibility as you discover things about your characters and story on the page. Arc Studio has powerful outlining tools like the Plot Board that help build your story and develop your characters and themes. When you return to your script, all that information will be right at hand.
Arc Studio has been designed for minimum distractions as it is. But you can take it further! Click the focus icon in the lower left corner to enter Focus Mode, or use the shortcut
D on Windows).
You can also set up a countdown timer for writing sprints, and choose to get notifications to nudge you back on task when your focus wanders.
We will keep track of the time for you. During that time, should you get distracted, we will gently remind you that you should be working on your script.
Take regular, scheduled breaks
Ideally, you enter “the zone”, where you forget about time and place and just write. But if you have trouble staying focused, it helps to set scheduled breaks and then following through with them. Instead of taking lots of tiny “breaks” all the time, which keeps you from actually getting started, you postpone distractions by knowing that you have a scheduled break coming up. After your timer runs out, Arc Studio prompts you to take a break. Select if you want to take a 5 or 30 minute break, and you will receive a prompt when it’s time to continue. Or just continue right away, if you managed to reach “the zone”.
Don’t get distracted by your own ideas
Once external distractions are out of the way, you will still get distracted by your own ideas on how to improve your characters and plot. Of course, these moments of inspiration are precious, but it is easy to jump between exploring ideas instead of making actual progress writing.
The solution is to keep ideation-time and writing-time somewhat separate: When you’re in the middle of writing some dialogue for act 3 and you get an idea on how to improve your inciting incident, take a quick note on your idea, but then keep writing your dialogue. Once you’re done with the dialogue, or ready to take a break, you can go back to your idea, evaluate it and flesh it out.
A lot of writers keep a notebook next to their computer for exactly that reason. Arc Studio has the muse widget included, with which you take notes even quicker: Hit
M on Windows) to summon it, type the note to yourself for later, and hit
Return to continue writing. The whole process takes a few seconds and you don’t even have to move your hands off the keyboard.
Avoid Google rabbit holes with the AI Research Assistant
The largest challenge of writing on your computer is everything else on your computer, including the internet. Oftentimes we go to Google for a legitimate question and suddenly find ourselves an hour later with tabs open to Wikipedia, Facebook, The New York Times, Deadline, and our email.
To avoid these pits of distraction, Arc Studio introduced an AI research assistant so you can get the answers to your questions without ever leaving the app. Just hit
K on Windows), type your question, and click ‘Start AI assisted research for…’ or use the keyboard shortcut
R on Windows). We’ll create and title a research note with the information and attach it to your script.