Way back, I started the series Writer to Writer as a way to get interesting insight from writers from all levels and it allowed me to hear back and gain insight from a few people I looked up to at the time.
I’m looking to revamp this series, but first I want to re-post the original interviews because I still find them very informative, so I’m sure other will as well.
Paul Zeidman is a very busy guy. At the heart of his hustle is his family and his passion for screenwriting. Paul has a lot of insight on finding a balance between work and life which is a key part of writing most tend to ignore until it’s too late.
Check out my interview with him below!
Nick: With your roots in such a different location than your current city, how do you feel the two different experiences have influenced you as a writer?
Paul: Growing up, I loved to read anything I could get my hands on, so that enabled me to discover numerous forms of writing. I was fortunate enough to have parents and a school system that encouraged creativity, which was a great outlet for somebody like me. I don’t know if living in San Francisco has really influenced me as a writer, but there’s a very bohemian attitude here, as well as a strong sense of literary history, that a writer can’t help but be aware of.
Nick: Do you feel your job writing and reporting frequent traffic updates has in any way helped you develop as a writer?
Paul: Since traffic information is pretty bland and straightforward, sometimes I’m compelled to inject some creativity into it, if anything to at least keep myself amused and not be boring. A lot of my jokes/witticisms are dry asides, so I like to imagine somebody doing a double take after hearing me say something completely unexpected.
Nick: You have a wealth of different skills. In this new era of “do it yourself” exposure, do you feel like screenwriters should learn other skills to promote themselves, or still just let the writing speak for itself?
Paul: Yes on both counts. Strong social media skills and a bulletproof script are a phenomenal combination. It’s so much easier now to be able to connect with people in the industry than ever before, and they’ll like you that much better if you have a solid script ready to go. I try to follow 3-5 new people a day on Twitter, and if somebody follows me back, I’ll send them a DM saying thanks, maybe a comment about their work and ask what they’re working on now. What writer doesn’t like to talk about their current projects?
Nick: What Hollywood movie, past or present, do you personally wish you had written and why?
Paul: So many to choose from, but I’d probably pick BACK TO THE FUTURE because it is truly is a perfect script. The details in setup/payoff are fantastic. It’s a great concept. It’s original. It’s funny, and a fun story.
Nick: With the various endeavors that you take on, what methods do you use to stay organized and on track for deadlines?
Paul: I don’t know if I have any particular methods about staying organized. To me it’s more of making a commitment and sticking with it. If something has to be done by a certain time, I make sure I have time set aside to accomplish it. That being said, sometimes it just takes longer to get things done due to something about the writing, or I need to take care of something not connected to writing and run out of time. You make the time when you can.
Nick: Being a film lover and writer, do you take any special precautions with your daughter as far showing her quality films and not Hollywood fluff?
Paul: My daughter is very anti-girly, so she never went for Disney princesses or anything like that. She enjoys PG-level action (she’s crazy about THE AVENGERS and current fave SHAOLIN SOCCER), but also gets a kick out of classic kids stuff like Looney Tunes and silent-era comedians like Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd. We try to steer her away from stuff that insults the audience’s intelligence, and she’s gotten pretty good about recognizing it. We’re also working on slowly exposing her to non-kid films (my wife really wants to take her to see LES MISERABLES). As a writer, I try to explain components of a story (theme, conflict, character arc, etc), in the most simplistic terms, and how they apply in that particular film.
Nick: Are there any films you loved growing up that your daughter absolutely hates? If so, how did it affect you the first time it happened?
Paul: My daughter loves watching the original STAR WARS films, but doesn’t care for the Prequels (who does?) Earlier this year, we watched WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT? She didn’t seem that impressed with it, but she didn’t grow up watching all those cartoons, so she probably couldn’t relate to them the way my generation did.
Nick: On your busiest day what’s your schedule look like?
Paul: I work in radio, so my day starts pretty early. I get up at 3:15am and work from 5 to noon. Sometimes I do the midday shift, which goesfrom 10am to 2pm. I ride my bike to work, so by the time I get home it’s around 1pm. That’s my prime writing time. Some days I have to pick my daughter up from her afterschool, or if she has soccer practice, I’ll bring my laptop with me and work in the car. During the evening, I’ll try to work while my daughter does her homework, but most of the time she’ll need help. When that’s done, there’s about 30-45 minutes left before I need to go to bed. But I’m usually pretty wiped out by then, so that’s a little downtime. Basically, I write when I can.
Nick: How many scripts have you written?
Paul: I’ve written 6 feature-length scripts, 2 shorts and am currently fine-tuning the outline of the next feature.
Nick: How often do you write?
Paul: See #8, but when I do have the time to write, I work as long as possible. If I’m working on an outline, I try to get as close to a certain point in the story as I can. If it’s actual pages, I set a daily goal of at least 3 pages.
You can check out Paul’s blog here, tune in to hear his radio show “The Script Adventurer” here, or follow him on Twitter here.