According to The Writers Store, here are 6 essential habits of successful screenwriters:
1. HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL SCREENWRITERS HAVE A DRIVING REASON TO WRITE
Most successful writers have been writing for years, and they didn't last or get to where they are today without having a driving and passionate desire to write. All writers have a variety of reasons why they write, some more or less admirable than others. Whether it's their primary way of expressing themselves, an outlet for their fantasies or a desire to entertain people, real writers don't get satisfaction out of doing anything else. They love writing for its own sake.
2. HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL SCREENWRITERS SET A HIGH STANDARD OF EXCELLENCE
Put simply, highly successful screenwriters are successful because they do the job better than anyone else. They can discriminate between good and bad writing. When starting out, they took the necessary time to develop their craft. They knew what it took to succeed. Today, they're ruthless in their desire to do their best. They have to be. Their livelihood and reputation depend on it. As a beginner, you need to know what this standard is and raise your work above it. Read great scripts and compare them to yours. You'll see the difference on the page and, hopefully, it will inspire you to raise the quality of your own work.
3. HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL SCREENWRITERS TRUST THEIR INSTINCTS AND WRITE WHAT EXCITES THEM
Successful screenwriters don't let the marketplace rule their imagination.
They choose to write what excites them and never second-guess their instincts.
4. HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL SCREENWRITERS WRITE REGULARLY AND SET WRITING GOALS
You'd be amazed how many writers want to sell their script for a million dollars, but they still haven't written it. They keep going from conference to conference, attending seminars and buying books without actually writing anything that closely resembles a finished, professional screenplay.
Successful writers are highly disciplined. They make writing a priority.
5. HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL SCREENWRITERS UNDERSTAND THE RULES OF THE GAME AND ADAPT TO THEM
Aspiring writers are generally sheltered from the industry. All they know from entertainment news sources are the 'glamorous' articles and the sound bites about projects sold, dollar amounts and players involved. It's only after selling something and being thrown into the system that they discover the realities they must adapt to.
6. HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL SCREENWRITERS EVOKE EMOTIONS IN THE READER
It's difficult to believe that the single most important element in any story, the most compelling reason why people go to the movies, read novels, watch television and see plays, is often the one element missing from most beginners' scripts. And that is the experience of emotions. The power of any screenplay lies in its ability to connect emotionally with the reader, and ultimately, with a movie audience. But the overwhelming evidence from aspiring writers leads me to believe they THINK TOO MUCH and FEEL TOO LITTLE when it comes to writing their scripts.
Take a look at newspaper ads for today's movies, which are nothing more than a promise for what an audience will feel by watching the movie. Some examples: 'pulse-pounding, nail-biting, tension and excitement, electrifying, highly-affecting, mesmerizing, powerfully seductive, provocative and intense, superbly gripping, fascinating, intriguing, spellbinding, stunning, packs an emotional wallop, hugely satisfying, grabs you and won't let go.' Can your script match these promises to a reader?
Every time you sit down to write, you should be afraid of losing the reader at any moment. The worst sin in Hollywood is for the reader of a script or the audience of a film to say, 'So what?' I can't tell you how often I have thought these two words. No reader recommends a boring script, and no audience pays $8.50 to be bored for two hours. Successful screenwriters rewrite their script until it not only moves them personally, but also any reader giving them feedback.