Create a portfolio of your work to market...

I read somewhere that you advised your students to make a list of story ideas before they start writing. Why?

I think what you’re referring to was said in an online discussion group.  One of the things I strongly encourage my students to do BEFORE they try to sell a completed script is to have more than one screenplay written.  I always urge my students to create a portfolio of writing - just like an artist wouldn't only have one painting to sell.  They'd have several.... to show they were serious about their work.  The same applies to screenwriting.

So, to further this idea - one of the first things you can do before you start writing any piece is to start making notes of story ideas that appeal to you!   Have a little notebook or a file folder for keeping these ideas - just toss them in and let them accumulate.  Soon you will start finding stories everywhere. This practice trains your brain to see the story in nearly anything.... and that's what you want.  

Start that process of collecting ideas today and continue it while you’re working on your current script.  You’ll find this is a nifty way to defuse your brain’s built in propensity to get you to ‘switch tracks’ right in the middle of a project.  It’s a similar process to keeping a script journal while you write.  Every time your left-brain nags you about a fix it wants to take time to do - you write it down.  Your left-brain is acknowledged, so your right-brain can continue to be creative! 

Once you’ve completed your current script, make some notes in your journal about what you want to fix and set it aside.  Now’s the time to wade through those story ideas you’ve been setting aside. Choose one and start to flesh it out. By the time you have 2 or 3 scripts written for your portfolio you can slow the writing process down to outlining the story and then creating a 5 or 10 page treatment for a couple more.  Now, you’re ready to begin to market your first script.  The most chilling producer comment in the world isn’t no; it’s what ELSEhave you got?  Especially, if you ain’t got nutthin else!

I hope that helps. And I wish you the best of luck with your writing.