We screenwriters are a funny breed. We’re awfully good about telling what we do well - we have to, in order to compete. The DIY generation has cornered the market on self-promotion.
the horror! The horror! Imperfection is seen as weakness, which translates to failure in the psyche of all things Hollywood. If we can’t discuss our weaknesses, we cannot improve them, so the problem becomes one of self-perpetuation, a Sisyphean-like existence, pushing the boulder of mediocrity up that hill, day in, day out, only to have it barreling down, crushing us under its weight, and then we start the task all over again.
In baseball, we revere players, who miss the ball seven times out of ten, with celebrity endorsements and multi-million dollar contracts. Why, then, are we so hard on artists?
I was working on my for hire yesterday, and began to ponder this quirk of very human nature. I went into shower (my method for generating the aha! moment), and realized that the solution might, just might, be absolution through confession.
Think about it – how much less powerful something is, once it is out there. To name it is to claim it, and by claiming it, you become the master instead of the slave.
All writers have talent. They would not be drawn to the craft if they did not. That being said, talent alone cannot sustain you. It’s the work, the hard work put into the craft, which distinguishes writer A (sales, hires and options) from writer B (still trying to complete script 1).
So, confession time. What is your weakness? What muscles need more flexing?
For me, it is a specific form of dialog, usually found in confrontation scenes. I find that, in my early drafts, I write these scenes with on the nose dialog. Absent of subtext and glaringly awful.
Within the rewrite process, I am slowly able to identify these moments, and cull through them, searching for the textual and sub-textual meaning behind each interchange. It is hard and it is frustrating. It is work. I can spend countless hours polishing a half page scene. I ride an emotional roller-coaster with these moments, often questioning my existence, my mental health, and why the f*ck I got into this crazy business in the first place.
Confession time. What are your weaknesses? What muscles do you need to work out more? What process do you use to make this happen?
A friend and writer, Dan G., turned me onto a random logline generator. He uses it to issue weekly challenges on his Yahoo! Group; I have begun to use it each morning to generate a logline and write a 1-2 page scene, dialog heavy, as an early morning workout. I allow myself one hour to write and refine, and then put the pages away until the next morning, so I may see what worked – and what didn’t – and use that data to help me move forward in the craft.
Writing is an art, and a craft. It is always in motion, never stagnant. The day you cease to learn, is the day you might consider a new day job.
~ HRH, Princess Scribe
TODAY'S ASSIGNMENT: Commit to your craft. Spend at least one hour each day flexing the muscles that need it. Do this the entire week - every day. Emails, message boards and blogging do not count.