We’re now a week into the 2013 Screenwriting Challenge, and the response has been tremendous.
I’ve heard from so many of you, expressing the excitement of those who are enjoying the challenge, as well as the questions of those who are struggling with it.
Here are some of the common questions that tend to come up with the challenge and some answers that may help you jump-start your writing.
If you missed the first article and you’re not sure what all this Challenge stuff is about, find out more here.
Common Questions About The Challenge:
I really wanted to participate, but I missed the deadline to get started. Should I just wait until next time?
It’s never too late to join the challenge. Go out today, buy yourself a journal, and get started. Give yourself 30 days, and start writing. The important thing is the commitment to writing every day, not the day you start or finish.
As writers, we often feel the urge to put off our writing for the “right” time, when we are less busy, less stressed out, have more time, more money, etc. We imagine some nearby future when we’ll have the time to pursue our passion. But as we all know too well, the “right” time never comes. We are always just a little too busy, too stressed, or too broke. And of course, the fact that we’re not writing makes those negative feelings even worse.
I’ve been doing the challenge, but I hate everything I’m writing. And now I feel like I’m starting to lose steam.
As writers we play a strange game with ourselves. Instead of dwelling on our successes, we focus on our failures as evidence that we were not meant to be writers. Usually this has more to do with fear than anything else. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear that we don’t have what it takes.
When your judgment of your writing is based on fear, it has little connection to reality. You may dismiss brilliant writing as terrible simply because you are afraid that others won’t like it. Or you may fall in love with scenes that are not working, simply because they feel safe to you.
There are many ways to overcome these kinds of fears. Remember, many of these thoughts you have about your writing may not actually be real. So concentrate on giving yourself the kind of feedback that inspires your writing by building upon what’s best about it, rather than tearing yourself down over the things that aren’t working.
Many writers find that it helps to join a writing class or to work one-on-one with our professional writing coaches, so you can receive honest feedback about what is actually working or not working in your writing, rather than playing out your worst fears in your head.
Writers block isn’t just about the actual writing. It’s about the subconscious, underlying emotions that get in the way of writing.
Here’s something you can do today to put yourself on the path to discovering the writer within you:
Give yourself the permission to write badly.
All writers write badly, all the time. Even the true greats leave hundreds of discarded pages in their hard drives, never to see the light of day. Accepting that this is a natural part of the process allows you to focus your energy where it belongs: not on judging the pages, but on creating them.
When you give yourself permission to write badly, you are actually allowing inspiration in. You will notice that your writing becomes more fun and exciting, freer, and fuller. Writing ceases to be a chore, and begins to feel like an adventure. Before long, you’ll discover that you no longer have to drag yourself to your journal in the morning. You actually want to write!
Of course, there is a time when judging your work is important, when it’s time to invite the editing brain to the table, and give it free reign to pull apart the pages you’ve written. But it is not during the initial creation of your work. Remember, it is only by writing the bad stuff that you discover the good.
I started strong, but then I missed a day and got totally out of rhythm. Now I’m three days behind and it doesn’t seem worth it anymore. Maybe I’m not really dedicated to this after all.
Usually when a writer is thinking about giving up, it’s more about fear than about rhythm. But there are times when we simply get off our game. Here’s the key: don’t let a couple of missed days get between you and your life as a writer.
If a vegetarian accidentally takes a bite of a burger, it doesn’t mean he is no longer a vegetarian. It just means he took a bite of a burger.
But countless writers will interpret a day or two of missed writing as evidence that they are not really dedicated to their craft.
Usually the truth is the opposite. If writing was just a hobby for you, you wouldn’t be agonizing over your missed writing days. You’d just find another hobby.
In fact, it’s probably your fierce dedication to being a writer that’s causing you so much agony. Because you’re not writing and you don’t understand why.
Dwelling in the past is not going to help you overcome this problem. The only way to get back into rhythm is by allowing yourself permission to not be perfect. There are going to be days that you miss. There might even be weeks.
The key is recognizing when you get off rhythm, and picking back up as soon as you do. Grab your journal, hide out for 15 minutes, and write today.
Soon, you’ll discover that you don’t even have to try to find your rhythm. Your rhythm will find you.