Ready to TRASH your Whole Script? Not Until You Read This Article.
By Jacob Krueger
The other day, a student asked me a thought provoking question. It’s a problem faced by so many writers that I decided to include it and my answer in this month’s newsletter. What do you do when you’re so fed up with your writing, you’re ready to scrap your whole project? Whoa! Pull those pages out of the trash can– at least until you try these simple tricks to re-energize your writing and get your project rocking again.
I’m at a fork in the road. I over thought my script and my writing has frozen. I’ve just been doing writing exercises. I feel like they are closer to “real” writing than what I’ve been doing with these scripts. I just write whatever bubbles up. It feels freer and overall much more enjoyable than the feature writing. It’s like starting a sketch and just drawing whatever comes to mind. I know when I focus on the script I’m still writing from a conscious level. And I don’t get anything out of it. Its frustrating, depressing, etc. These are the two sides: When I write the exercises I have fun and don’t care much about where they go. When I write the feature I don’t have fun and I worry about what’s the best/most beautiful stuff put in there. But writing the exercises I feel like I don’t know if it’s any good. When I write the feature, at least I “think” its good writing. So my question is, “What are your thoughts on these two sides?”
AND I have a new idea that I’ve thought about writing for a couple of years now. I’m not sure if I should scrap the old story and start this new one or not?
The question you’re struggling with is one of the most profound ones to answer as you make your transition from amateur to professional writing. ALL writers have tons of scripts sitting in their files that are not completed. Sometimes you hit a wall. Sometimes you lose steam. Sometimes it just takes a month or even a year of working on something else to find your way back in. There is nothing wrong with setting a script aside, UNLESS it starts to become a habit. What happens to some writers is that every time they hit a roadblock, they start something new. While this is great for keeping up the flow– and just fine for writers who are doing it as a hobby, for people with professional aspirations, it can actually become a form of writers block.
Professional writers need to finish scripts. So here’s a little trick that I use to fool my brain into finishing scripts. Work on two scripts at a time. This way, you can honor your writing brain’s need for a break every once in awhile– while still knowing that you are progressing toward your goals. What you’ll soon notice is that when things get hard on one script, the other script becomes incredibly appealing. It doesn’t even feel like work anymore. So you set your current script down, and start up on the other one again.
Before long, things get hard on the second script, and suddenly the problems with the first one don’t seem so overwhelming in comparison. So you switch back, and once again keep that momentum going, accepting and respecting your process on each screenplay, and integrating it with the demands of the industry. As a nice side benefit, you’ll find that the scripts start to inform one another– as you build on things you learned writing one script to improve things in the other.
In addition, you may also want to set aside a day to just play (as you’ve been doing with the exercises), without worrying about either script. Playing around like this keeps your writing brain limber, and often leads to huge breakthroughs in your projects. Think of it as a valuable part of your routine (like stretching before you exercise). Keep the main focus on those two scripts (and no more than two!) and before you know it, you’ll have two finished drafts.
A final word– remember that it’s not important for either of these drafts to be GOOD. What’s important is for them to be DONE. Once you have a full draft on paper, you can always go back later and revise– and even use the two script trick again in the editing process. Until your script is on paper, there is nothing you can do to improve it. But once it’s out there, the possibilities are endless.
Got a Question About Screenwriting?
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Thanks! Glad you’re enjoying it!