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Creative writing tips

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A former entertainment lawyer who’s scripted everything from Sleeping With the Enemy to Dangerous Minds to the new Julia Roberts comedy My Best Friend’s Wedding, Bass, 55, makes millions using just pencil and paper. Below, the secrets of his success:

1. Go with the flow. ”I believe in writing seven days a week,” says Bass, who alternates between his current script assignment and, to avoid the dreaded blank page, jotting down ideas in his trusty loose-leaf notebooks.

2. Become an eraserhead. Bass writes with Sundance No. 2 pencils from The Blackfeet Indian Writing Co., a Native American firm. ”I love the physical process of writing,” he says. ”On a computer, when you change the line it’s gone.”

3. Develop instant amnesia. ”I read it all and forget it,” says Bass. ”I don’t want to be writing out of my previous thinking.”

4. Just do it. ”Once I start writing there’s a huge feeling of relief,” he says. ”That’s the playtime. That’s when you are in your sandbox.”

5. Know when to collaborate. In a scene near the end of My Best Friend’s Wedding, Julia Roberts’ character makes a toast. Bass wasn’t happy with his original, so he rewrote it using a line from the poet Rilke. But the studio felt it sounded too literary. ”So Julia wrote her own toast,” says Bass, ”and I felt two things: It was really coming from her heart — an enormous plus — and it was terrific writing.”

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