I bet you’ve been there. You have an idea. You sit down to write and nothing, but blank space fills the page. Or maybe you’re so deep in your flow for the first hour and the next two weeks you can’t even write a single word. You, my friend, have met the ugly beast known as writer’s block. And while there might be a million ways to defeat writer’s block, trusting in the process is really the only way you’re going to get through it. Let me explain.
One piece of advice I’ve always heard from writers was to just force yourself to sit down and write. “Just sit down and push through it.” Let me just say f@#& thattttt! Creativity is not to be forced; it just flows. And writing is a creative process, it’s not something that should be manipulated. It’s not clay. What you do when you force yourself to write is associating the script with thoughts of pressure, stress, worry, dread, failure, frustration, and so on. Those thoughts become feelings and then, you’ll start to not want to write the project. In fact, you’ll dread writing the project and chances are a project that’s written out of force and “necessity” is not going to be as “brilliant” as a script that was written with passion, unlimited creativity and abundant potential.
If you can’t figure out how to end your feature, guess what, babe? Sitting in front of your laptop staring at the screen isn’t going to help. What will help is forgetting about it. Doing something else, honestly, anything else for a while. Go out and experience life. Take a walk. Go people watching. Turn on a film or show that has a similar tone or style like the project you’re writing. Read other scripts. Listen to music. Make new friends. Go on a date. Do anything that isn’t sitting there, wasting your precious time beating yourself up that the ideas aren’t coming. Because they won’t when you do that. They won’t ever come.
I had a conversation with someone recently and they got me thinking about how many of us punish ourselves with unrealistic expectations with our creativity. Myself included. Sometimes I treat my ability like a light switch, that should be permanently on every second of the day. But it doesn’t work like that. My creative mind, and yours for that matter, doesn’t work on command. Imagine getting into a new relationship with someone and saying to them that they must date you at this very moment because you’ve planned to have a partner this week/month/year because you “need” to have someone…now. Watch how fast they’d run away when you give them an ultimatum. And that’s exactly what happens when you force yourself to write, your ideas run the f*@& away because nothing good ever came from force, except for diamonds. But they’re overrated, and definitely not a girl’s best friend. #JustSaying
Your script doesn’t need to be finished right now. Take the anxiety out of writing and you’ll literally get out of your own way. Because the only thing stopping you from finishing your script is YOU.
In one of my favorite movies, Stuck in Love, which you should totally see after reading this, the main character says that a writer is the sum of their experience and everything they need to write about they’ve already learned by like age 25. Deep, I know.
But, honestly, so true. Your ideas and your scripts are the sum of your experience. Just like actors use personal experience to expand upon techniques and methods when developing a character and directors rely on their visual/emotional experience from other films and projects to create a vision for the project they’re directing. You must rely on your experience to pull out your ideas, regardless of how far from reality they are, and if you’re sitting in front of a laptop staring at the white screen of death, what experience is that? Not a good one.
And yes, if you’re on a deadline to get a script done and you’re running out of time this still applies. Imagine sitting in front of your computer for hours and having nothing to show. Now imagine going out and doing something and letting your real-life human experience get the creative juices going and nailing down that scene or pilot? I much rather the latter. Do yourself a favor today or tomorrow or next week, and don’t force yourself or beat yourself up because your gift isn’t flowing today. Everybody has off days and you should embrace them more than you should suffocate them, cause that’s life my friends. A series of highs and lows strung together. #NobleAF