A PAIN WE HAVE ALL FELT AT ONE TIME OR ANOTHER
If you’re a screenwriter, you’ve no doubt found yourself staring at a blank screen with frustration boiling over in your mind. You’re stuck… We’ve all been there. It’s a feeling we all work tirelessly to avoid.
Stop me if you haven’t experienced this before: It’s late… All you want is progress and so you start a pivotal scene but something is wrong. It’s not working. You can’t put your finger on it but you don’t like the direction the scene is heading. So you start over and before long it happens again. What you wrote doesn’t seem right. It doesn’t fit.
You take a deep breath and start again only this time the screen is blank… And it stays blank… You’re stuck. You type half of a sentence but quickly delete it. You try writing dialogue but lines don’t seem to connect to each other.
At this point, you take a look at the clock and note the time. It’s later than you think. You feel like sleeping and starting fresh might help but you can’t get the scene out of your head. If you could just figure out a place to begin the pieces will eventually fall into place. All you need is an idea. You give yourself a moment to regroup…
You take a deep breath and start again but the words just aren’t there. The pressure mounts and you feel lost…
I think it’s important to note the difference between lost and hopeless. There is a big gap between being stuck and reaching a dead end.
THERE IS HOPE!
Moments of frustration are unavoidable but they are NOT impossible to overcome. That’s why writers thrive on cracking the tough scenes. It’s a sense of accomplishment we work tirelessly to achieve. We are all problem solvers after all. So take a step back and really think about the scene and the story you want to tell.
Are you an outliner? Do you have index cards? Is there a detailed treatment you can refer to?
- Go back and read your notes.
- Write new notes.
- Tackle a different scene.
- Rewrite the scene before it.
- Rewrite the scene that follows it.
- Write something else entirely to get kick start your imagination.
- Take a break.
- Have a snack.
- Brain storm new directions for the scene.
- Isolate what’s bothering you and discard it.
- HAVE FUN WITH IT!
One strategy I employ is to keep writing even if I don’t like the results. Even if the scene is full of cliches and moments I wanted to avoid, I keep writing. Sometimes it’s easier just to get it out. That way, you can take a step back and really analyze what works and what doesn’t.
- Change the location.
- Put the scene in a different place.
- Try eliminating the scene completely.
At the end of the day, if a scene is giving you that much trouble, it may not have a place in your movie… Having said that, some scenes HAVE to be in the movie so you have to work harder.
- Challenge yourself.
- Don’t let a frustrating moment snap you out of the zone.
- Try again.
- The pressure makes solving the problem all the more satisfying.
Above all else do not stop trying until it works. I guarantee you’ll sleep a lot better knowing you cleared the road block and cracked the scene.
Every screenwriter has to be a skilled problem solver so don’t stay frustrated too long. It’s a challenge. Kick the crap out of it. You have to take everything into consideration and do what’s best for YOUR story. This is your passion so don’t let FHADLFFHSOJHDS beat you tonight. Who cares if it’s late. You’re a screenwriter and you’re passionate about movies and the skillfully crafted blue print behind them.
Get back to work!
NOTE: I’d like to mention that this post was written just after I found myself stuck recently. As I wrote the post I came up with a better way to write the scene.
My final tip for overcoming writer’s block and FHADLFFHSOJHDS moments? Write a blog or keep a journal. It’s one of the best ways to get your mind working in a pressure free environment.
A creative way to inspire creativity.