Writer's Block

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Writer's Block

Post by Guest on Fri Dec 26, 2014 4:13 pm

Hi, it's everyone's least favorite person here.

Not a girl problem this time, but a mental revelation of sorts:


So I have here next to me a piece of paper with damn near a hundred film ideas on them. I have basic plot details and characters and stuff.

That's about it.

I have no motivation to write any of the screenplays I have jotted down as treatments. Even worse, I have no idea what to write. I just can't do it. I've spent hours looking at a blank page, and my brain will literally shut off whenever I try to write.

Every time I've ever managed to start, after a couple of days I get angry and delete whatever I have, because it's always terrible. It never flows, never sounds right, and I won't write a word for fun for a month. Then start all over again. Then get angry and delete it.

It's basically selective writer's block. If the assignment is for school, I have no trouble writing it. But the second I try to write creatively, my mind just shuts down and won't work.

Thus why I've planned on getting into film festivals for three years and haven't submitted once, why the various applications to giant film companies never get finished. I'm so scared of failure and rejection that I shut down, further preventing me from ever having a good life. I hate to take risks. And I have no idea what to do about it.

The worst part is that I might not even be creative and that I might be in the wrong line of work. I've never made a good film in my life.

You can say "oh well you might get better." But shit, I've been trying to make stories since I was 5 and they haven't really improved all that much. Fifteen years of practice should be enough to be great.

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Re: Writer's Block

Post by Enail on Fri Dec 26, 2014 4:36 pm

Write it badly, just get something on the page. If you need to, just leave it as notes about what you're going to write for each paragraph/beat/sentence "then something moving about how magical the Cadbury egg tasted. She says something snarky..."  Drill down into smaller and smaller segments until you know every detail of how it will work.  If you need to, write to make it bad on purpose, worse and worse. Whatever you need to do to turn off that part of your brain telling you that if the first thing you write isn't perfect, you'll never achieve anything, because that is a surefire way to shut down creativity.

Chances are, your first draft is going to be terrible anyway. First drafts are terrible. Get it done now, fix it later.

Probably you'll need several drafts, that's fine too.  Most writers go through several novels/stories/screenplays/whatever, each polishing them as best as they can at that time, before they write anything that's actually good. As long as you're writing, and learning from what you write, you're getting closer to being a good writer.  As long as you're holding out for perfection, you're stuck not writing anything at all.
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Re: Writer's Block

Post by Guest on Fri Dec 26, 2014 5:05 pm

Enail wrote:Write it badly, just get something on the page. If you need to, just leave it as notes about what you're going to write for each paragraph/beat/sentence "then something moving about how magical the Cadbury egg tasted. She says something snarky..."  Drill down into smaller and smaller segments until you know every detail of how it will work.  If you need to, write to make it bad on purpose, worse and worse. Whatever you need to do to turn off that part of your brain telling you that if the first thing you write isn't perfect, you'll never achieve anything, because that is a surefire way to shut down creativity.

Chances are, your first draft is going to be terrible anyway. First drafts are terrible. Get it done now, fix it later.

Probably you'll need several drafts, that's fine too.  Most writers go through several novels/stories/screenplays/whatever, each polishing them as best as they can at that time, before they write anything that's actually good. As long as you're writing, and learning from what you write, you're getting closer to being a good writer.  As long as you're holding out for perfection, you're stuck not writing anything at all.

I can't even get that far. 9/10 times I cannot think of a single word to write. Nothing, nada, zip, zilch. I'd totally get something on the page if I could just think. I don't know what the characters should do, I don't know where they are, I'm just completely unable to tell a story in those moments.

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Re: Writer's Block

Post by Enail on Fri Dec 26, 2014 5:25 pm

So take the first idea on your list of ideas.  What would be the stupidest, most obvious, most cliched, most pointless way to start that story? Where would be the weirdest, most awkward, most ridiculous place to set it? Pick something dumb. If you can't think of an answer, open a book, set it in the first location mentioned on that page, open another book, pick the first verb you see and make that the first thing that happens. Write for ten minutes, as fast as you can, as if you're twelve years old and writing the most embarrassingly 12-yr-old-ish wish fulfillment fanfic. Go over-the-top, go stupid. Short-circuit your inner editor.
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Re: Writer's Block

Post by Guest on Fri Dec 26, 2014 6:23 pm

As a fellow filmmaker to another, you will always be your own worst critic. There is also, no such thing as originality anymore, there's 36 dramatic situations you can write from, or if you want a simpler from of writing, there's seven basic plots to choose from. What I'm trying to say is, no matter what you do, there will always be someone who's done it, doesn't hurt to do it again while putting your own spin on it.

Don't worry so much about originality or the perfect story, even the most perfect of movies have some holes in it. For example, The Dark Knight is a pretty solid movie, but it has some problems. Enail is right in that the first draft usually blows and usually you need to do revisions. Do it, everyone does, worse yet is when someone else has to revise your script at the mercy of the producers. Another example of revisions/rewrites, Star Wars, that shit was re-written about 4 or 5 times before we got the movie we know now (and George Lucas didn't stop revising it either after the movie was released either). From my own experience, I wrote the first 19 pages of a screenplay for school maybe about three times and this was barely the first act.

What I'm tryin to say is this: even those at the professional level struggle and have to make changes. Could you imagine original Star Wars films with Han Solo as a crazy green alien? Razz

One piece of advice that I got in high school in regards to writing is to write in a sort of stream of consciousness, very much in line with the philosophy of 'write drunk, edit sober'. Let it out, just let it all out and then come back to it and nix what you don't like, or give it to someone else to read over and see what they think.

If you really want to get over your writing block, I say get inspired. Right here are Martin Scorsese's student films from when he was at NYU, he was beginning, just like you and I. It wasn't Goodfellas or Taxi Driver, at least not yet, but he was getting his bearings and finding his voice as a director. I'm sure you can find the early works of other directors somewhere on the internet too and if you're looking for more inspiration, I recommend watching Mark Cousins' 15-part film The Story of Film: An Odyssey, which is an excellent documentary that talks about the birth of cinema (as Cousins put it) from the late 19th century, all the way to 2011.

Get out there and get inspired, don't worry about your work being perfect, just get out there and do it. Make the best damn film your hands can make.

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