Sunday, January 13, 2013
Writer's Block, or the nonexistence thereof
suggested I talk about writer's block.
The thing is, I don't believe in the stuff. Never have. I know some people swear it's real, and I believe it's real for them, but I've never experienced it. I've been stuck for a while, days even, but never blocked.
This last script I wrote was a big challenge, full of sticky places. I stopped working on it during the summer and wrote a whole other script before going back to it, determined to finish. I finished, but Manager has called for a major rewrite, so I was stuck again for a few days while I whined, and then another few days while I tried to figure out what to do now.
But stuck is not blocked.
A lot of this, to me, is about faith. When someone gives me a note that sounds impossible I start to get really upset - panicky, even. And then after I let the fear in for ten whole seconds (Thanks, Dr. Jack!) I remember that I can do anything. I have rarely met a script problem I couldn't figure out how to fix, and I will fix this too. Then I get to work figuring out how to fix it.
So the cure to writer's block is to have an ego the size of Montana.
It starts with knowing I can fix it. I don't know how, but I know I can. And once I know I can, I just think a lot until I do.
I think in bed as I fall asleep. I think in the shower - Beefcake laughs at me because he can hear me talking in the shower sometimes as I practice lines of dialogue out loud - I think on the elliptical, which mercifully makes time pass faster. I think while I'm walking dogs. I think while I'm cooking dinner. I think while I'm thinking.
The hardest part for me is trying to turn my brain around. At some point, I created a vision of what a scene's supposed to look like, and once it's there, it's tough to shake. But I start thinking of all the ways the theme can be played out more. How can I make the characters experience more conflict? What if the protagonist is a different person? What if the villain is a different person? What if their relationships are different? What if I change locations? What if someone starts shooting? What if, what if....
It becomes obvious which ideas are bad ones, but then suddenly you'll think of something and the light bulb will go off and wham! You're off to the races.
But the key, I think, is not to force it. Have fun with it. Remember when you were a kid and you used to run around the house with a finger gun, pretending to be an FBI agent and shooting your sister who was listening to criminal amounts of depressing music? It's like that. You didn't worry about whether your FBI backstory made any sense, or that overindulgence of The Cure isn't actually a crime - you just made shit up. When you get stuck, you have to be able to make shit up again with wild abandon, and then reign it in later after you've thrown out every idea you can think of until something sticks.
Or at least, that's how it works for me. My cure for writer's block: I know I can solve the problem, I think and think and think, and I open my mind to new possibilities.
I got 99 problems, but writer's block ain't one.