Okay, so I’m going to write something rather remarkable… One hour later… Alright so I watched TV and I’ve eaten and rested, I’m going to start now… three years later… I’m not very good at this.
Today’s topic is… drumroll… Writer’s Block!! I have had the absolute worst case of writer’s block and it sucks. I know that I love writing, and I know that I’m not terrible at it, and I’ll even go as far as to say that there are many things that I can write about. So, what’s the problem?
There are a few factors that can contribute to writer’s block but there are also ways to fix them.
1. Feeling Discouraged?
I for one have fallen victim of feeling discouraged. Two winters ago, I was studying film in college. I submitted a feature film script to the film program I was enrolled in. Now that alone is a huge accomplishment because I have never finished anything in my life and I certainly haven’t submitted my work before unless it was for a grade. The runners up had to present their films alongside their producers to an audience of judges (professors and faculty), and students. My only competition was an attorney, welcome to my life. Needless to say, I did not win, but I should’ve known better and prepared a little bit more. It was a decent and still is a decent script in the end. Yet, I haven’t touched it in a year. For me to be present at that pitch, I had to miss my final exam for my math class. I had a verbal agreement with my math professor to makeup the final exam which she had gone back on and that cost me my graduation. I had every intention of making that film with or without all of the winnings, but it was beginning to seem impossible as every plan I had ever made was falling apart. I had backup plans to backup plans. Everybody, even my professors still encouraged me to proceed with my production, but I couldn’t. I felt like I was sinking in quick sand and there was no way out.
How to fix this issue:
Talk. Talk to someone that you know and trust. Let them know how you feel, what you fear and what gives you anxiety. Break down what is breaking you down.
Have either that same person or someone else that you trust take a look at some of your work and have them give you honest feedback. Maybe ask a couple of people while you’re at it so that you can get different viewpoints and tips.
2. Lack of Motivation?
So, you want to be a billionaire with no worries, or the Spielberg of your time or perhaps a New York Times Best Selling Author? However, when you get off work you sit in front a box filled with cables that projects moving images for hours until you fall asleep? You finally have an entire day off but you’d rather spend your money on things that you don’t need, or take a nap at the beach, or watch Netflix in bed until you fall asleep. A friend and former coworker of mine once said “You have big dreams kid, but you’re sleeping on them!!” We both laughed and then did the ‘yeah that’s true’ nod.
How to fix this issue:
Start with your own past experiences. Anything good? Anything bad? Anything worth writing about? If not then…get out there and start experiencing life!!
Try being a tourist in your own state (an idea that I have borrowed from Professor E that I will always carry with me). There are new restaurants, bars, stores, and new things to try all around you, so find out what’s going on in your community and neighboring communities and around the state because you’re missing out on a lot. Get some traveling in. You should spend time with friends and family. If you’re reading this and wondering why these things have little to do with writing or filmmaking think again. Most great ideas are derived from actual experience not know-it-alls.
Alas you should be reading books and studying movies and television shows of all sorts of genres, but don’t do it mindlessly, pay attention. When something of true talent or interest takes place, you should take notice and notes.
One thing that is crucial to keep in mind is to know that you have a silent audience.
While I was nearing the end of my schooling in the film program a great opportunity had presented itself to me. There was one job opening at the motion picture rental house in which I had completed my internship. I knew I had to have it. I knew I wanted it. I knew it was an amazing opportunity and would totally up my resume game. I hesitated. I went back and forth with myself for weeks on what to do, even though I already knew the answer. There was a guy in the film program that I kind of knew. I mean we had worked around each other before and he was always nice and funny but I didn’t really know him on a personal level. Our class was on a break that was about to be over when he stopped me to chat. We got on the subject about the job opening and he confirmed everything that I had been telling myself. He told me “people would kill for an opportunity like that.” We talked for a good while and it was almost like he knew that I wanted that job and that I was scared to jump in and he felt that he needed to reach out and help. I was a little taken aback, I must admit, I truly didn’t expect that from him. I’m glad that he did though because that day I finally decided to contact a friend within the company and he told me who to contact about the job. Great news, I totally got the job!!
Often at times I’ll tell someone, maybe someone that I haven’t seen in while and I’m catching up with, that I’m a filmmaker or that I have a film degree or that I worked at a well-known (within the industry) motion picture rental house and they give me this look. This incredible look. Their faces just light up like Christmas trees and the tone in their voices is filled with excitement and I can tell that they believe in me. And not in the way that one day they’d be able to say that they know a famous filmmaker but that they truly believe that I have the potential to one day be a famous filmmaker. I feel a little guilty when that happens because I know damn well I haven’t been that person this past year. I haven’t yet lived up to be that person that they see in me, and that alone motivates me to be a better person. To get better at my craft. It lights a fire within me that cannot be put out.
I have this neighbor. I don’t know him. We don’t talk. Sometimes we wave as we pass each other on the road, but that’s it. He plays the drums often and has for a couple of years. At first I didn’t much care for it. I didn’t really think twice about it. As time progressed so did his skill level. I started to like coming home late at night and hearing this music. It became nice. I’ve even started to recognize the songs that he plays. I don’t know him, but I’m proud of him.
There is always somebody secretly watching you and not in the Rockwell way. They are in awe of you. They love your work and they believe in you. They’d want nothing more for you than to see you succeed and to have everything you’ve been wanting and working for. These people are rooting for you, and they might not ever get to tell you that. You might not ever really realize it, but believe me, they are there. Even more than you’d know.
3. Time Management!
There was a time when I was working and attending classes at two different campuses. There was a time when I was working two jobs and going to school. I was putting more than 140mi on my car a day. I’m also a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a best friend, and a filmmaker. There isn’t enough time in the day sometimes. I totally get the being pulled in all directions and not ever catching a break thing.
How to fix this issue:
“Make time, not excuses.” I’m not sure where that quote originated but I quite like it. If you’re truly the writer that you claim to be and I think you are, then sit down and write.
Make a space in each day just for yourself to write. Don’t allow room for any distractions. You must discipline yourself.
If you have kids, write when they are asleep or at school. If you’re at work, right on your lunch and/or dinner break. Wake up thirty minutes to an hour earlier and write. Instead of watching TV every night until you fall asleep, write. If you have a day off you should be writing. Give yourself a time slot each day to write. You don’t have to write an entire novel or feature film in one sitting. You can brainstorm a story plot one day and work on a character breakdown the next and so forth. There’s no reason to overwhelm yourself. Pace yourself. Step by step. Not all at once.
4. Not writing words and phrases as they come!
I am guilty of this one. I’ll lay in bed at night and something awesome will just pop into my head, but I’m tired and I swear I’ll do it in the morning. I don’t always remember to do so. Sometimes I’ll be driving and it’ll hit me, a story or a phrase and I must fight to remember throughout the day or just until I get back home.
How to fix this issue:
This one is fairly self-explanatory. I had a professor, Professor S, in the film program who would say to “always carry around a notebook,” and I try to or I’ll make a note of it on my phone and get back to it later. I’m usually running back and forth and I never know when an idea for a script or a certain word or phrase is going to hit me so writing it down right away definitely helps. Keeping a notebook handy is essential and it doesn’t eat up the space on your phone. I highly recommend carrying around a notebook and it can even be a small one that you can throw in a bag or back pocket. If you can write in it, you’re golden.
You must learn “No,” to be told “No,” that “this is not your time.” You need to feel heartbreak and failure before you can truly succeed. Look up any great legend from any genre of life and you’ll see that they had to fail many times before they won. Life keeps moving forward and it never stops. You can either sulk in your own self-pity or you can try again, try differently, try with a better knowledge of what’s to come. If you give up, your demons win. Now go write something!!