Well, back today with good news to report: I’ve kicked procrastination in the ass! BOOM! Take that!
After yesterday’s post about the fine art of procrastination, I think there was somewhat of a catharsis. It was good to acknowledge the nature and habits of procrastination as well as get some thoughts on the page as to dealing and defeating it. And today… sat right down and got (nearly) right to work (after a quick touch in with the ol’ email inbox and Facebook feed).
I’m currently taking a break since I’ve put in just under three hours to jot down these most recent revelations that occurred to me last night. Number 1: If you could have a job where you only had to come in and ‘work’ until the work was done, would that be fabulous? Stroll in casually at 11am or maybe noon. Bang out what needs to happen and be finished for the day when the work was done. Finished by 2? Go out for a stroll, enjoy some sunshine, catch a movie mid-afternoon. Yes, that would be fabulous. A day’s work is the work itself, not the clocking of the hours.
I’m currently looking for a second job. I need to add to my income, so picking up a part time job – in addition to my primary bill paying job and my writing endeavors – seems to be the answer, but a part-time job is easily 20 hours a week that I don’t have to spare. Twenty hours that could be spent writing. Ouch! What if I could get a second job where I could earn a day’s pay in only two hours?! That would be awesome. This idea hit me after seeing my therapist: relatively loose schedule, need extra income? add an extra client or two. Think about it; two additional clients or sessions would pretty much cover my day rate. Wow!
Now, I’m not a licensed therapist (though the thought has crossed my mind about going back to school for another career) but that’s exactly what the 10pages or 2hours agenda is: getting a whole second part-time job banged out in two hours a day. Granted, I’m not getting paid the money for the writing work I’m doing at this point, but while I do have the time, why not treat it that way? When I thought about it like that, everything seemed pretty clear and it seemed pretty easy to kick procrastination in its teeth. Use my time more economical. “Work smarter, not harder,” as Scrooge McDuck would say in DuckTales! Sit down and write for two hours. No more putzing with the internet and avoiding the task at hand. Get to it, write, and get that second job banged out in the time it takes… not the time it takes to indulge the fantasy of it.
So that was the first part of the revelation, the second thing was something that stuck out at me from Viki King’s How to Write A Movie in 21 Days. Towards the back of the book there is a section about Hypochondria. In it, she talks about all different kinds of ailments writers will “come down with” when writing (or avoiding writing). She associates each ailment with an inner or emotional landscape. For instance, she says when an idea is ready to come out but you’re not ready to let it out, that might manifest itself as an itch. Or back pain might be pressuring yourself too much like “get off my back.” (Huh? Huh? Her words, not mine. )
The one that stuck out at me was No Energy which she describes as a lot of inner work going on without much outer work manifesting on paper. So you’ve got no energy, you’re not getting any pages done, and you feel bad – or worse – you feel like a failure because of it. The sense or fear of failure is what is sapping the energy.
Now I know some of this stuff (and her book on the whole, at times) has a bit of a touchy-feely, hippie-dippie vibe to it, but I am the kind of person who mulls things over, feels situations out, believes in my gut. I can’t just reason everything out and devise a plan on the spot as much as I’d like to at the time. So I do buy into some of this stuff a bit, even if it’s with a grain of salt. (Let’s face it, I don’t want to be making any more excuses!)
But here’s what I Capital-R-realized, each script, each project isn’t the product at the end of process, the stack of pages bound together with brads. It’s not the script, the sellable product. The true art is the journey of the writer, the journey the writer goes on within himself to explore the complex issues of our humanity. The script is the bi-product.
Why do we write? Especially, when we’re not getting or guaranteed a check in the end? Why are we creating? What is driving me? It’s the journey; it’s the self-discovery. I will not be the same person at the end of this script as I was in the beginning. And ideally, that is exactly how we want the audience to be after seeing the film: changed. We need to go on these journeys within ourselves. That is why the best writing is personal. Now, I’m not saying personal writing is a complete autobiographical expose. You can write a fantastical script that takes place on a foreign plant no one has ever dreamed of and it can still be personal because the themes that move you, interest you, spark the imagination – those are personal. And while exploring those themes fully, we are probing our our humanity to fully understand what this existence is, what this life is.
I don’t know if any of this makes sense or if it just sounds like hippie-dippie ramblings, but for me something clicked thinking about this and thinking about the scripts I’ve written in the past and what was going on with me while writing them. My last script was a conscious attempt to make my writing more personal, and in turn I wrote an extremely personal tome drawing on feelings from my past (not necessarily plot points, mind you).
I guess what I’m really talking about here is theme… and understanding what theme is a bit more clearly. Every time I’d take a class or read a screenwriting book, the lessons on theme never quite resonated with me. I felt a grasped the idea intellectually, but there has always been a nagging sense that I was “missing” the point somehow. Maybe I have finally grasped it.