a pro script reader ponders movies, reading, writing and the occasional personal flashback

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Don't Look At Me, I'm Not Writing

A few weeks ago, I happily posted about writing again. "Look At Me, I'm Writing". It felt good. I had the words-on-paper buzz.

Unfortunately, I haven't done any real work on a screenplay in weeks. And that doesn't feel good.

I can make excuses. Time crunch is a valid one; because my better-paying reading jobs are in flux (at least until the Weinsteins get their new company rolling again, or the old Miramax decides to throw me some work) I've been scrounging up lesser-paying work to make up the difference. There's plenty of it; it just takes more work to make the same money I was making before.

But the more work I do, the less I want to work on my own stuff. Catch 22. And the irony is, I still love writing. It's not that I'm burned out on the process itself. It's... I don't know.

The angst and chaos of moving certainly didn't help. My wife gets her well-deserved attention each day. We don't have children, and I respect the hell out of anyone who can do this with kids; if I had kids, forget it.

Blogging takes some of the edge off; making myself post here on a regular basis gets my creative engine revving. But it's still not advancing my own work.

I've been reading stuff for some people who took me up on my offer, and giving them notes, and that's been good too. Because the type of notes I've been giving them is mostly story notes, and brainstorming ideas, and I'm good at that stuff. Very good. And that gets my creative juices flowing too.

But still, not in the right direction.

I feel pregnant with creativity. But when I do find an hour to do something, the last thing my brain wants to do is dive back into my own stuff. And it's going to take more than an hour; it's about getting up to speed, and getting it rolling.

I'm a cliche. And I know what you're going to say. It takes discipline, setting aside hours, focusing on what I want to do, getting my priorities straight. And you're right. Dead on right.

Fuck. I'm 42. The train is leaving the station. And instead of taking red pen to pages 60-110 of my supernatural-thriller-that-desperately-needs-a-really-tight-polish, I'm writing a whiny blog entry, that I may have already deleted by the next time you come here. Because who needs to hear from another writer lamenting their lack of production?

I don't know what to say. The whole situation sucks.

I feel like Danny Bonaduce. I thought his new show was weird, turning the cameras on himself, showing all his warts, a lot of unsympathetic stuff, as he spirals down, and hopefully gets better.

But maybe there's something to this. Maybe opening oneself up, and saying this is who I am, this is the me that has to change, helps drive that change. I don't know.

Maybe it's just self-absorbed bullshit.

I have friends who get doubts sometimes, who consider chucking writing and not chasing the dream any more. It's a tough decision to make. It's not one that I want to make. But the clock is ticking.

So feel free to nag me about the supernatural thriller that's 85% there, but needs another solid pass. Or the horror tale I started working on last month, that is perculating away. Or the idea that me and a guy I met online have been trading e-mails on for almost a month now, slowly piecing the plot together, which is probably the closest I've come to writing even though my contribution has been largely limited to lobbing ideas in his direction.

The sad thing is, I think there's a good writer in me somewhere. I just need to get off my ass, and try to help him get his shot.

The end of the year is coming. Work will be slower. If I'm going to make it happen, it's time to start getting up speed, to hit that ramp.

Here's hoping. Here's... Shit.

Just going to try.


At 12:09 AM, Blogger Dave Olden said...

Don't I know it.

I got 2 years on you, and I'm just getting my engine revving, so I get some of the same concerns, specially about the clock ticking.

What to do? I don't know other than nodding at all the details as the inner critic spouts them, and then blatently neglecting all the negative stuff. Make the inner critic boil, "You didn't give up like I told you to!!"

Grin, while writing. "Nope, I didn't. And I'm not going to."

Sure, this post may come down, but I think this is worth keeping up. It's honest, and a lot of us can identify. Your blog, your call of course.


At 12:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. I don't know how you can be a writer and reader at the same time. Way too hard IMHO.

2. What were you doing watching Jeff Daniel's sucky movie when your insomnia was offering you an opportunity to write?

3. Don't use your creative juices to will regret it later.

4. Go write won't regret it later.

At 4:20 AM, Blogger Maura said...

Hey Scott, good luck with the writing. Stick with it. We all have doubts, and slump periods, and the good thing is that you recognise this. Now you have to do something about it.

Perhaps you should make your daily goals small: say, a page a day, or a snippet of dialogue you overheard during your day, etc. The trick is to get started. (This from someone who should take her own advice more often!) I find if you make your goals too big then you risk not meeting them and making yourself feel worse. But if they are small, and easily obtained, then you are likely to hit them and perhaps overshoot them (thus adding a feeling of accomplishment).

Best of luck with the work! Keep the faith. :)

At 4:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm 32, three kids (four and under), have an agent that doesn't give me the time of day, have a job that starts at 6 a.m. and I still have time to get a few pages in every day.

Time to suck it up. Get the job done.

At 7:05 AM, Blogger PJ McIlvaine said...

I'm 49 so what does that make me, an old hag?

Don't be so hard on yourself, Scott. Writing is writing, and your creative mind is writing even when you're doing something else. I get my best ideas while taking a shower, doing the laundry or just taking a break and doing something else.

At 9:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't give up, keep going...why? because there are tons of people out their like us and they are waiting for one of us to drop, to give it up, to toss in the towel so we can all move up one more space in line...let somebody else give up

At 10:43 AM, Blogger Mark said...

3 pages a day. After a month you have 90 pages. Keep writing til the end.

Mark's Screenwriting Blog

At 1:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a suggestion. Nanowrimo starts tomorrow ( I'm kind of stuck in my screenwriting, and trying to write a bad novel in a month is my only hope to get re-energized.

At 4:29 PM, Blogger CharlieDontSurf said...

Lol I'm 26 and I already feel this way.

At 5:22 PM, Blogger writebrother said...

"Writers write".

Simple words, yet if you go back and revisit to them everyday you can't really go wrong.

At 5:33 PM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

Hey, all I do is write. I probably write 8-12 pages of coverage every day.

Maybe that's part of the problem.

At 11:18 AM, Blogger writebrother said...

Quick question....

Have you ever found yourself inadvertly incomporating things into you own work from scripts that you may have read in the recent past? I always figured that mayhappen to some readers that also write.

At 11:41 AM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

I worry about stuff like that, which is why I try to write stuff with an odd twist, that drives original story action and allows the characters and story to come from someplace I'm pretty sure no one has been. I wrote a script about a guy who dies and becomes a Tooth Fairy; I know there are some similar scripts floating around, but I've never read them.

P.S. -- I did write 5 pages of my horror script last night. So the juices are starting to flow.

If I tried to do a dysfunctional family drama, I'd probably inadvertently be tapping into all the past ones I have read.

At 12:12 PM, Blogger writebrother said...


And please excuse the horrible grammar found in my previous post. That's what I get for typing while riding the exercise bike and watching a movie at the same time.

At 4:42 PM, Blogger Brett said...

Dude, there are a thousand great reasons to not write, and all of them look and sound and smell like perfectly legitimate reasons for being too busy to Do The Work, but at the end of the day, that's all they are: excuses.

I have a lot of the same problems you describe (but for entirely different reasons), and in my opinion it's not a matter of discipline or time or angst or any of that. It's a matter of willpower, pure and simple. Either you grab yourself by the collar and drag your ass to the keyboard, or you don't. And once you develop the habit of saying "I will write, come hell or high water," it gets a little easier every day.

There's a reason I'm scared to get interested in blogging: I recognize that I look for ANY excuse to not bang the keyboard on the big projects that I need to work on if ever I am to shed this tag of dilettante and rate the label "working pro." Taped over my keyboard?


Go. Write. Today.

(previous comment was deleted when I found a ndouble-pasted chunk of verbiage!)

At 2:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy to see you're writing again, Scott.

My own excuses for not writing was that I was waiting for the right time, waiting to get a little financial break - if only I didn't have so many bills to pay, if only I didn't have so much work to do, if only I had a more supportive partner, if, if, if...

Then I realized that things might never get better, that the bills, the work, the family, the responsibility will always be there in one form or another. I couldn't wait for the right time anymore because THAT right time doesn't exist.

But there is a RIGHT TIME, only I didn't see because I was waiting for any of the false right times, the right time was and will always be NOW.

My time of realization came over ten years ago and I'm still in very much in THAT now, that RIGHT TIME. The problems, the bills, the perceived obstacles to writing are still there, that hasn't changed, but I have.

Result: several published stories, twenty completed scripts, fifteen others at different stages of development... just last summer I wrote two new scripts, rewrote two, started another...

The funny thing is, writing didn't take away any of the time I needed to deal with life.

Now is the right time for you, for me, for anyone who wants to write. The question is, what are you doing NOW?

Daniel L

At 11:37 AM, Anonymous David Anaxagoras said...

Hi Scott. I hope the juices are still flowing. I recently hit my own bump in the road, and I appreciate your honesty and openness in blogging about yours.

I got a lot of the same kind of advice -- namely, "apply ass to seat" and "suck it up" and "drag yourself to your computer and START WRITING NOW YOU BIG FAT BABY!"

All good stuff that I agree with. But I'm willing to bet that if we could just pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and miraculously start writing, we would have.

The thing about resistance is, the harder you push, the harder it pushes back. I say, stay on friendly terms with your art and be kind to yourself.

For me, that meant doing the smallest element of work possible for a while. Once, it meant trying to write poorly on purpose. I recently made a mock up of a movie poster for my script, just to help me get back into the story.

I've spent years trying to be my own Drill Sergeant and it just doesn't work. If you fight yourself, you will always lose.


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