HOW TO MAKE YOURSELF WRITE – TIP #2
Writing is a battlefield.
As with most battlefields, you better show up with the right amount of artillery, men, knowledge of terrain and understanding of your enemy. I still do not know what “writer’s block” is, although there are many ways in which people experience writing procrastination. I’m sure writer’s block exists, I’ve just never experienced it.
And when I hear people tell me they sit down in front of their computer and they don’t know what to write, I want to choke, slap, and pity this person. Because to sit in front of your computer and not know what to write is equal to going to war with no weapons, maps, men, and so on. So, in writing parlance, how do you marshal your forces for battle?
This is how…
CRUSH ON YOUR SCRIPT
It doesn’t matter how busy you think you are. We all suffer from “empty time.” And this “empty time” is very crucial to writing really well. Because you can use that time to “write” before you sit down to write. Here’s one word that describes this function. OBSESSION.
Let’s talk about something we all have in common. We’ve all had crushes on someone. What happens when you long for that person? You’d do anything to be with them, right? You think about them 24/7. You fantasize about this handsome person as if your life depended on it.
You think about how said person would look like in your living room. You think about what said person would look like eating ice cream. Playing tennis. Watching tennis.
Guess what? Obsession is writing.
More than the physical act of writing. Your mind must be “owned” by your story, just like the person you have a crush on.
If you want to write – if YOU REALLY WANT TO WRITE – you better be thinking about your script 24/7. While you’re driving. While you waiting in line at the post office. While you’re working. While talking to your spouse. You better be crushing on your script so much, your script wants to put a restraining order on you.
What the hell do you mean, obsess over your script, you ask?
To just think about the script what… being 120 pages? Perfectly spelled checked? Your name under the title on courier font? No, that is not what I mean.
Let’s start with this: see your definition of writing. A guy on a keyboard typing away. Now take that image and throw it in the fireplace and watch it burn. Because I’m now giving you the real image of writing.
When Mike Tyson used to knock out guys in 90 seconds, he said no one saw how hard he trained. Meaning, he didn’t just enter the ring and work for 90 seconds. He woke up at 5 am every morning, worked the speed bag, footwork and hundreds of other things you don’t see. That’s training. That is what “writing” actually is. The obsession. Such as, but not limited to…
a) Reading screenplays “tonally” similar to your script.
c) Reading research material.
d) Watching research material.
e) Re-reading your treatment or script pages.
f) Listening to audio material, either research or oral notes.
These are “obsession tools.”
These tools fill “empty time.” You can develop the crush on your script more deeply while waiting in line at the post office, driving, washing dishes, and in some cases, while working…. in general, anything you define as “empty time.”
Here is What I Do to Fill “Empty Time” and Write:
Sort out all of my “obsession tools.” Put as much as I can into my iPad, which is portable. Take it everywhere I go. And I mean everywhere. If you can fit “obsession tools” in your smart phone, great. If you have notebooks in a briefcase, great. Just make sure you bring those tools EVERYWHERE with you, because “empty time” can and will rear its ugly head at any moment.
There are three pockets of “empty time.”
1. Traveling. Everyday, I go somewhere. Whether I drive, walk, bike, take the subway, I’ve got my audio stuff ready. If there’s no audio material (like a book or a podcast, there is always the soundtrack I picked for my story I can listen to… that will certainly get me in the “crushing mood”, oh yes).
2. Grooming and toiletry. Whether I’m shaving, brushing my teeth or sitting on the can (one of the great “empty times” of our lives… just think of all the hours you spent in your life sitting there doing nothing but, no pun intended), I am “obsession ready.”
3. Errands or waiting in line. Whether I’m in line at the post office, DMV, the bank, the INS, FBI, or Trader Joe’s, I am in the position of getting tons of reading done. Many of these places hate it when you have the earphones on (you know, when its been your turn and everyone’s been calling you?), so I generally read. I’ve gotten so much mental writing done while others yawned, sighed, cursed or just repressed their rage waiting in line and watching their time vaporize — not me, I am crushing on my script. Hard.
BONUS: Sometimes, I listen to materials while doing bills, writing emails, shopping on Amazon, watching sports (with the sound off), there really is no limit to “obsession.” “Fill empty time” and watch yourself scowling whenever someone says they have no idea what to write when they sit down in front of the computer. After this much “crushing”, trust me, you can’t wait to get your hands on the object of your affection… by way of the keyboard.
Writing a screenplay is an intimate relationship.
If you don’t foresee giving this much of yourself in this relationship, you shouldn’t write it. But if you’re ready to commit, the rewards can be rich and rewarding.
Read through all 13 of our screenwriting tips, and you’ll be on your way to developing writing techniques and habits that help you go the distance.
Written by: Norith Soth