Screenwriters! Do You Read Your Screenplay Too Much? I Do…
WRITE. READ. WRITE. READ. READ. READ…
My screenwriting aspirations were recently put on hold for the best possible reason. I became a father for the first time. My daughter changed my life and every single day, she inspires me. Ask any new Dad and they will tell you adjusting to fatherhood is difficult at first. You don’t sleep, you’re constantly changing diapers & washing bottles and you struggle to maintain any semblance of a routine. However, no matter how hectic it may seem in the beginning, it’s worth it.
Still, it was difficult to find time to write screenplays. Screenwriting returned to my life when my daughter was about 4 months old. My wife and I had eased into a routine and our baby girl was sleeping through the night. Screenwriting was back.
Before she was born, I was working on a feature length screenplay. While I was happy to put it on hold, it was hard to get back into it. I worked on my notes & outlines a lot but I just couldn’t get any new pages written.
Finally, I decided to start with a blank page and rewrite the 50+ pages I had finished. The goal was to immerse myself into the world again. This process was difficult because I had to implement changes and rewrites from my notes. (There is an advantage to a 4 month lay off with nothing to do but think about characters and story.) As I wrote, I found myself constantly reading my script from the beginning. My progress was slow and I felt like I would never catch up. Was I losing interest in my screenplay?
Thankfully, I wasn’t. I was simply spending too much time reading my script instead of pressing forward. Sometimes, you simply need to get it out of your head and perfect the script during the rewrite process. I had forgotten the benefits of writing a first draft even if it’s garbage.
I WAS STALLING. OR WAS I INTIMIDATED?
It was easily the strangest case of writer’s block I ever experienced. I had spent so much time thinking about my story after my baby was born. I was so excited to write again. But when the time came, I spent more time reading old pages instead of writing new ones.
The lesson is simple: Don’t do that!
Nobody writes a perfect first draft so why spend all that time perfecting page 1 when page 87 remains a lonely a blank page? Since that realization, I’ve been writing nothing but new pages. I’ve gone back to make subtle changes here and there but I’ve resisted reading for the sake of reading.
For me, writing time is still limited and therefore, it’s crucial that I use the time I have wisely. Whether it’s 10-20 minutes when my daughter is having an afternoon nap or spending my breaks at work writing in the cafeteria, I have to make every second count.
I PUT WAY TOO MUCH PRESSURE ON MYSELF
It felt great to let go and write purely because I think it’s a story worth telling. I definitely didn’t lose interest in the story. I just didn’t trust myself to write it for a while. It was a story I hadn’t revisited for months and I forgot that I’m the perfect person to write it.
Have you ever felt like that? Do you trust yourself to write your own story? Generally, I consider myself to be a confident person but when it comes to screenwriting, I couldn’t be more self conscious. Why?
Do you find yourself reading more than you write? Have you ever found yourself stuck in a cycle that prevents progress?
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