I think this blog is going to be short. I made the mistake of missing out on doing a daily blog last weekend and find myself in the midst of the purgatory that is writer’s block. I have ideas for a few stories, feature-length script ideas, I also have several projects that need rewrites and/or reworking, not to mention the distinct lack of blogs.
I have started writing scenes on cards. You would think with all the technology and programs around – Final Draft, Scrivner, Celtx – that working scenes out in a random, as-they-come fashion, would be easy.
It isn’t. Something about clicking and dragging, as opposed to the shuffling about of 3 x 5 cards, is just less appealing and interrupts my creative process.
Meanwhile, other ideas are crashing in on my psyche, completely unrelated to any of the stuff I am trying to focus on. It is as if my brain is hardwired for procrastination, with the smallest thing taking my focus away from the task at hand.
This blog is a case in point, I’ve been writing it for three days and I have managed less than two hundred words!
I think the thought of writing a feature-length script is affecting me. There is no reason it should, as I have written longer pieces and shorter bits, but that one hundred to one hundred and twenty pages of a complete – no, I am not going to think of a trilogy! – story, beginning, middle, and end, is strangely daunting.
It is the building of a compelling story, with interesting characters, driven by an unavoidable goal, plus engaging the emotions, that is the challenge. It is exactly what every film guru tells you, what every great film shows, what every screenwriter is trying to and believes they are doing when they embark on a screenplay.
So, it is obvious now, as I write this babbling blog, what the issue is. It’s fear and not the weird, but strangely real fear, of succeeding. Nope, this is proper, I could royally fuck this up fear. This is the fear where you write something and end up second-guessing yourself, lacking the courage of your convictions.
This is the kind of fear that makes one write derivative works, clichéd works, boring, safe work. The sort of stuff that no one, not even your nearest and dearest, can get through when you ask for their feedback.
Perhaps I am being a tad melodramatic. The fear of writing horribly is all too real though. No one starts writing and tackles rewrites with the thought of producing something sub par. In the mind, it is always a great idea. Then you put it on paper and start, hopefully, to see the flaws. If you’re fortunate, they are easily fixed, more structural than poorly thought out.
Sometimes one can become wedded to a bad idea, desperate to make it work. I myself have many an unfinished script or story where the excitement of an idea, when you think you have an original take on something, turns out to be a bit rubbish or not as compelling on the page as it was in my head.
What is the alternative? Give up writing? No chance. Even as I wrestle with the notion of perhaps not becoming an Oscar, Emmy or Bafta award-winning scribe, or not being good enough to make the slightest dent in the lowliest of film festivals, I know that I want to write.
The thought of not writing or making a film has not really occurred to me as a possibility or probability. Maybe, even with the advancing years and a lifetime of experience, I still retain that almost necessary naiveté, believing I can still make my way in the cruelest and unforgiving industry that is film and television. Only time – and a herculean effort – will tell.