Since I was asking other screenwriters to explain their process, I thought it was only fair to explain my own.
I wrote my first real script — or at least my first attempt at a script — on Microsoft Word on an Macintosh SE30. This was probably 1991. I don’t know if there even was screenwriting software like Final Draft at that point. I wrote everything up through GO on Word, then made the switch.
These days, I’ll write longhand, or type, or a combination. I strongly believe in not having a set routines or rituals, because they often become excuses for not working: “I would write, but I have to have a brand-new blue pen and natural sunlight streaming through that window over there.” I’ll do index cards if something is especially complicated, but usually a short outline will suffice. I generally don’t write in sequence. Rather, I’ll write whatever scene appeals to me at the moment. A lot of times, I can write a short scene while waiting at the dentist’s office. For all the fancy software and books about it, on a fundamental level, writing only requires focus and something to write on.
I can write any time of day. Nothing is better or worse for me. If I can get two hours of serious writing done, I consider it a sucessful day. But I don’t beat myself up if that doesn’t happen.
A lot of times when I’m first starting a project, I’ll go away by myself for a few days. To Vegas, San Diego, Hawaii, wherever. I won’t take a computer. Instead, I’ll just take a bunch of notepads. I’ll write scenes longhand, then once a day, fax them back to Los Angeles. My assistant then types them up and faxes them back. It’s a good system for me, because it keep me from editing the work too early in the process. Working this way, I can write 17 pages in a day. It’s exhausting, but very helpful to achieve that critical mass in such a short period.