Tuesday, September 6, 2011

“Talk about your habit for a second.”

I am forever surprised at the range of responses Jeff Goldsmith (formerly Creative Screenwriting Magazine, now the Q&A) elicits from professional screenwriters about their writing habits. Everything from highly structured schedules to quirky, interstate email partnerships to exquisite forms of procrastination. 

I fall into the latter camp (good to know I’m not alone!).

Someone said to me once the difference between a novelist and a dramatist (screenwriter, playwright) is that a novelist has a burning desire to tell their story and MUST write whereas a dramatist has to be dragged kicking and screaming to the keyboard with imminent disaster looming.

In this a deadline helps.

Which is where I’m at now – having procrastinated my way into a position where the only option is to write like crazy to meet a deadline. It’s amazing how it gets the creative juices flowing.

There must be an easier way but that just seems to be how it is. Somehow I still manage to be productive but it’s a helluva rollercoaster to take. When I write, when I’m in that zone, I’m fine.

Getting there is the battle for me.

I know, people say tackle the blank page every day until it becomes second nature, until the ‘fear’ subsides. I admire the people who can do that, write for a set time every single day. Not built that way.

So now I have to fly. Which means locking everybody out for the next three weeks and retreating into my head. I don’t know what’s scarier – the isolation of it all or the fact that I might enjoy staying in that space far too much.

I do know I have to banish all the other voices in my head - the doubt, the confusion, the panic, the notes, the theory. And just write. It ain’t glamorous… but that’s what you sign up for as a screenwriter.

Therefore please don’t be offended if you don’t hear from me for a while; or get a witty Facebook response; or a timely email reply; even a new blog post. I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing – turning blank pages into a visual story, a form of alchemy that is elusive, frustrating, amazing and ultimately rewarding in ways that are hard to explain.

The priority has to be the work. From that everything else springs. Talent gravitates towards talent and if the scripts are good then all the gifted people that are needed to make them come to life will follow – the actors, producers, directors, and all manner of craftspeople along with the creative and financial support required to make a movie.

That is the only magic I have to offer – words. Best make them count…

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