Got writer’s block? Boy, is this post for you!
We’ll continue our Script Magazine series with a special writer’s block edition. Lucky you! Three different takes on that dreaded condition. Vamos!
- IMPROVISING SCREENPLAYS
The first method of combating writer’s block comes from an excellent article by Brett Wean. His method? Improvisation.
“That there will be some days when I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen in my story, because I made some amazing discovery the day before that totally works, but has set off a butterfly effect in my second act that I’m not sure how to deal with yet. That some days, even if I know exactly which scene I have to write, for whatever reason, my fingers on the keypad “just aren’t feeling it,” and somehow writing, “INT. OFFICE — DAY” feels incredibly wrong and I can’t figure out why.
THE BLANK PAGE
So does the responsible screenwriter just walk away from his computer for the rest of the day, or does he behave like a freakin’ professional and utilize some techniques that might enable him make some headway?
No. He starts typing. He “walks around” as his character. Maybe in a different setting he knows he probably won’t have time for in his finished script. Maybe a scene from a different time in the character’s life. Just to see what pops out. And sometimes an answer will make itself known. At the very least, the wheels of the subconscious will starts silently moving.
What’s more, the more comfortable you allow yourself to become in just sitting down, being present, not judging yourself, and setting words down, imperfect as they may be at first, the faster, more intuitive, and relaxed an editor you will be of your own work.”
- THE BLESSING OF WRITER’S BLOCK
So how’s a writer for Entourage deal with writer’s block? Lisa Alden’s terrific article calls it a blessing. A blessing?! Read the full article here. And here’s a taste:
“Day in and day out, I embraced the fear. I stayed in the chair. But it didn’t work. I had come down with a paralyzing case of writers block. My shrink at the time decided I had ADD and wrote a prescription for Adderall. Over the next two weeks, I wrote like I was on fire. I came out the other end with a short story that I still consider the best piece of writing I’ve ever done. My agent loved it. I got lots of meetings. I watched Patton and read the Churchill letters and felt like I’d been brought into the tribe of warriors.
But the victory was short-lived. I didn’t get staffed. My agent dropped me. I lost my apartment. I had gone to battle, but lost.
I was utterly defeated.
And in that defeat, my intuition had its moment. It said, “Get off the battlefield. Now.” Then it told me to throw away the Adderall. “If this drug is what it’s going to take to write, then forget it. You’re not writing. It’s not worth it.”
And in that defeat, in giving in to the resistance instead of fighting it, the panic went away. And in its place my intuition became stronger.”
- VISUAL MINDSCAPE
I like Bill Boyle’s voice. He’s an experienced writer and you can hear it in the very first sentence. So it’s interesting to hear that, on occasion, he struggles too. What can you do about it? Read his damn article. A piece of it follows:
“You want to write but the task at hand seems too overwhelming. First off, that can be something positive. It means you are pushing your own envelope and that can’t be bad.
But knowing that doesn’t solve the problem. Deadlines be damned! Overwhelm doesn’t care (neither does laziness or boredom). Deadlines just add to the sense of overwhelm. You feel anxious and frustrated and these negative feelings can make it even harder to get started.
So what can you do?
I attempt to break it down to the most basic piece of action. What is the next thing the character is going to do, what is the very next thing I want the reader to experience; a specific image, an action, a piece of dialogue and that is all I focus on. I might go on a Thesaurus hunt for that one special word that will bring sanity back to me and to the page.
If I am still stuck, I shift my mode of thinking. For me as a writer, and I suspect for you as well, there are two approaches:
1. Minutia Focus which is all about the right paragraph, the right sentence, the right word, the right first image.
2. Quantum Focus, which is much broader, is about the overall scene, character and intention of the story.