Creativity is a mysterious process that must be respected and protected on the screenwriting journey.
July 17, 2016 § Leave a comment
If you’re new to this screenwriting adventure, you’ll soon discover that when you go back to your creative well it doesn’t always deliver as expected. It’s important to carve out a writing schedule and stick to it so you can actually finish a project, but sometimes the creative juices just don’t flow. Some call it writer’s block. I call it part of the creative process. When the writing becomes difficult, you can cut and run, or stick with the material and concentrate on visualization even if it doesn’t produce pages. In private correspondence the great mystery writer Raymond Chandler once confessed, “Even if I didn’t write anything, I made sure I sat down at my desk every single day and concentrated.” Chandler gave himself the physical stamina a professional writer needs, quietly strengthening his willpower. This sort of daily training was indispensable to him. It’s vital for a writer to go through the ups and downs of the creative process because it’s the basic training necessary to gain precious experience.
The more you write, the faster you’ll be able to finish a first draft, but don’t let experience fool you. I’ve written thirty feature-length screenplays and I’m still humbled every time I sit down to start a new project. Even with experience a writer isn’t immune to the anxiety of the creative process. I was filled with anxiety during the start of a recent screenwriting assignment because I couldn’t get my creative process going every day when I had planned. I woke up early and lingered on the Internet, took a late lunch, became distracted by phone calls and suddenly it was 3:00 P.M. and I had no pages. This horror show went on for about three days until I realized that maybe on this project my writing schedule didn’t start in the morning, but later in the afternoon. I make a choice to let go of my preconceived daily structure and my creativity thrived. I started my writing day at 3 P.M. without guilt and worked until about 11 P.M. Yes, I was blessed to have the luxury of shifting my screenwriting writing schedule, but I realized as long as I sat with the material and focused, the daily creative process was moving forward.
The creative process has no secret formula for success. It’s the reality that writers must jump in and discover a method that works best for their productivity. If you spend quality time with your material, free from distractions and interruptions, you will eventually power through the walls that block your creativity and become productive. Don’t stress about today’s page count because it will always over the course of any project. Focus on sticking to your writing schedule and being “one” with the material. The consistency of a daily writing schedule will protect your creative process regardless if it works today or not. Also stick to your self-imposed deadlines because this is training for when you do score a screenwriting assignment and work for pay under a contract. Creativity is a mysterious process and writers must respect it, but also protect it during their long haul journey to finishing a new project.
You have to believe you can “make it” but also respect the fact it’s a long journey to reach any level of success. Keep the faith and keep screenwriting!
Did you just complete your latest screenplay? Is it time for in-depth consultation? Check out my services by clicking on the icon below for the link to my website and more information. You never get a second chance to make a first great impression. Make the time to get it right.
Subscribe to my screenwriting YOUTUBE CHANNEL for 27 videos about surviving in the trenches of Hollywood.
Need help focusing on your screenwriting goals? Check out my on-demand webinar “A Screenwriter’s Checklist” available as a streaming rental. Part 1 & 2 are $9.99 each. Click on the icon below for the link to my webinar website.
“Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.”– Kurt Vonnegut
“Yes, screenwriting is character, story and structure, but it’s also about feel… like you’re working with emotional clay.” — Scriptcat
“A writer is not a film’s maker but its originator, then a writer must, if she or he is to emerge and make a mark, create a body of work that is not just aimed at posterity but at surviving the food chain which constitutes modern film production.” — Richard Price, screenwriter of The Color of Money, Sea of Love, Mad Dog & Glory, Clockers, & Ransom.
“Seeking support from friends and family is like having your people gathered around at your deathbed. It’s nice, but when the ship sails, all they can do is stand on the dock waving goodbye. Any support we get from persons of flesh and blood is like Monopoly money; it’s not legal tender in that sphere where we have to do our work. In fact, the more energy we spend stoking up on support from colleagues and loved ones, the weaker we become and the less capable of handling our business.” —Steven Pressfield, “The War of Art”
“Writers, like most human beings, are adaptable creatures. They can learn to accept subordination without growing fond of it. No writer can forever stand in the wings and watch other people take the curtain calls while his own contributions get lost in the shuffle.”—Rod Serling