Creative Writing: The Process: Part One

We’re gearing up for our Big Idea Experience writing meetings. This last year we wrote, edited, and filmed 21 videos for 10 months of content. Each month we did two, five to eight minute videos for the character education curriculum that we help supplement for local schools. I thought it’d be great to write out the process from concept to completion. It does get a little long so I broke this post into two.

Big Picture Brainstorm
2-6 hours
4-10 people

Some people like to have bigger groups for their creative meetings but I find that if you get too many people in the room it can last too long or you can lose depth in your ideas. If you need a ton of ideas you can get more people involved but keep in mind that your next meeting may go a little longer.

When we met for the previous year we brainstormed 10 months of content, August-May. We were hoping to have 2 videos for each month and threw out the idea of doing extra videos if needed. That meeting started in the morning and we broke for lunch so it was around 4 hours.

Keep in mind, we had the Big Ideas, or values to work from. We also already had a core “message” or “idea” we wanted to focus on each month. That was sent out to our whole creative team before hand for them to look over and come up with ideas. If you’re starting at square one it will take longer.

We threw out a ton of ideas and an absolute must is to have a great note-taker. We have someone making sure that the idea tornado this meeting turns into leaves some things sticking to the wall.

In Depth Brainstorm
1-3 hours
2-4 people

After our large group creative meeting we take the notes and try to nail down at least 2 solid script ideas for each month. For us our first creative meeting gave us several solid script ideas so we had a lot to work with. For this meeting we had our main writers in the room. I happen to be one of the main writers and also oversee this process. However, if you have a creative-manager for the project and writers it may be a good idea to have both of these groups at this meeting.

Keep this meeting smaller and for us we had everyone there have a laptop. For these we’re writing down ideas on a google shared document and trying to get a skeleton of scripts worked out. Depending on how much content you’re trying to create you may need longer but for us we needed about an hour to an hour and half.

However, in this timeframe we probably worked through a third to a half of our script ideas to a point that they were completely ready to be moved on to the next process. We got about 4 months of ideas.

First Draft Meeting
1-3 hours
1-3 people

For this meeting we split up our script ideas. Our goal at this first meeting was to write the first 3 months of content. We ended up writing 4 months. We weren’t going into it thinking we would knock out all 10 months. We had 3 writers at this meeting. We divided 3 scripts up and had each writer take 30-45 minutes to write out a hard script.

We used Google Docs so we could share the scripts, after one round of writing, we swapped scripts and made quick edits and additions.

After that we did a soft read of the scripts out loud, just to see if there were any other ideas or directions that came out.

I can’t stress enough, sometimes this process is so painless. Sometimes it’s not. It really depends on how flushed out the skeletons of your scripts are when you give them to the writers. If there’s some ambiguity on how the whole process fits together we needed longer.

After the first round we divided up another set of scripts and repeated.

This is really the creative process. After this you start getting into the nitty-gritty process of taking these creative ideas and getting them from paper to production. I’ll tackle that part of the process next week.

Photo by Trent Erwin on Unsplash

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