monsterslikeyougirl-deactivated asked: I'm picking my year 2 modules for Uni, Film & TV production right now and I don't know whether to pick scriptwriting or not because I used to love to write but lately it's like all I feel is frustration and anger whenever I try to write anything and I just end up staring at that fucking blinking curser for an eternity. Should I just abandon writing for now or would you be able to give me any blank page saving tips that would make a scriptwriting course bearable?
While I’m sure all bad writers probably have a hard time writing, I’m equally certain that not all people having a hard time writing are bad writers (thank God).
The term “writer’s block” is, itself, the beginning of a self-defeating syndrome. The idea that something is “in our way” presumes we know where we’re going, which presumes “we” we are responsible for our failures and successes, which only paralyzes us more.
I won’t presume to call writing “art,” but I will say this: if it’s science, we’re the rat. We are not the one with the plan or the map, we are down in the shit, learning through mistakes that are not our fault, cruising for rewards which are sadly therefore not to our actual credit. But let’s not get nihilistic right when I’m about to activate you.
A rat would never get through a maze if it thought a rat’s job was to know which way to go. The dead end is not the problem in need of solving, the hunger is, and the way to solve the hunger, the way to get the cheese, is to respect a wall for a wall. To receive each obstruction as a message from the laboratory: ”You’re not going this way. Period. Change direction.”
This, of course, is not the trademark thinking that got primates where we are today, so we have to use tricks to suspend our penchant for lateral thought, or at least to downgrade our ego to rat level. Here are the tricks I’ve learned, in no necessary order:
Alcohol lowers your inhibitors across the board. The same magic that sometimes enables you to start crying about your Dad for no reason can also enable you, briefly, to admit that you hate what you’re trying to write and why you hate it, and what you would therefore love to write. And if you can write down these epiphanies in the sweet spot between euphoria and blackout, ten percent of the time you’ll have a new approach to your current job. Booze, however, is the Agent Orange in the war against writer’s block. It’s graceless, it’s ungodly and it’s not just foliage you’re damaging. There’s prices to pay. Forever.
Cutesy games, like iambic pentameter or “begin every sentence with the next letter of the alphabet,” can distract the logical part of your brain and let the creative side operate free of supervision. I used these for most of my twenties, but there’s something pretentious about it. Especially when you get frustrated that nobody noticed your iambic pentameter, because then you have to start pointing it out, and you become a huge dick.
Being behind a real deadline - one that involves you actually getting yelled at by rich people who might not pay you - works really well, but you won’t have that luxury until someone’s counting on you. And no, “setting your own deadlines” doesn’t work. Never has for me, anyway.
But here’s my favorite, and it seems like the most healthy one:
If you’re ever going to be a good writer, then you probably tend to be afraid you’re a bad writer. Instead of trying to prove you’re good, try to prove you’re bad. At least the ball will start MOVING on the field. I always tell young writers, “start proving to yourself how bad you are.” Make a joke out of it. Write a draft that you know you’re going to throw in the garbage, or show to your friends for a laugh, a profanely irresponsible piece of shit draft that in which you absolutely fight for the team that you REALLY believe in - the one that says you stink. Pretend your Mom keeps asking you “why don’t you just finish something,” and write the thing designed to shut her the fuck up. THIS is why I don’t just do it, Mom, because it would look like THIS, this thing that SUCKS. Show her. Don’t even waste time on it, the faster you go, the more it will suck and the more you’ll win the fight against yourself.
Because the truth is, we do suck…because “we” is our ego, and our job is to get that ego to stop blocking us.
I hope that helps, it’s the best I could type while listening to network notes. I think they even just busted me not listening, but this seemed more important at the time. Godspeed to you, child, and all sympathy to your parents for not having raised an air conditioning repair person.