Torture

I’ve just finished the third part of a project, the first parts of which were here and here and is also connected with this puddle of shame here.

I’m not supposed to say what it is yet, so I won’t – but it’s very exciting.

For me, anyway.

Whereas the first two parts of this went well, if in unexpected directions, this third part has been a nightmare.

It’s one of those projects which didn’t quite make sense on the first draft, but has stubbornly refused to make any sense since. There was one thread which needed sorting out, it wasn’t completely wrong, it was just … a little odd.

No problem, just fix it and make it work.

Except I couldn’t.

I spent a whole day on Thursday trying to pick it apart and make it make sense only to find time and again I was causing myself more and more problems. Every time I thought I had one part sorted I realised none of the rest made any sense.

A whole day.

At the end of the day, I deleted everything I’d written – it was a complete pile of shit.

Friday was pretty much the same. I spent the majority of the day trying to find the answer, trying different methods of putting the story together, looking for a solution which would make it all fall into place.

Unlike the other two parts, there wasn’t a ‘Eureka!’ moment when it all suddenly fell into place. It was a gradual struggle which resolved itself so slowly I wasn’t really aware it had worked until I’d finished.

Part of me is angry about wasting so much time. I could have written something else on Thursday – one of the three movie treatments various people are expecting, for example. Instead, I fannied around for hours and eventually wrote myself into a dead end.

On the other hand, I recognise it’s a necessary process to eliminate the weaker ideas and (hopefully) produce the best version possible. Sometimes the ideas come easily, sometimes they take a while to be coaxed out.

I’d like to say it’s more satisfying the longer it takes to perfect – but it’s not, it’s just more irritating.

Oh well, it’s done now and it’s away. Just got to wait patiently and see what the verdict is.

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Categories: Progress | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Torture

  1. Name withheld due to embarrassment

    Uhh. The process you just described sounds exactly like the process I’ve just gone through with my screenplay.

    Except it took me nearly six months, instead of two days, to solve my one.

    WTF? Do I need a RAM upgrade? Please tell me this was the same for you once and it just gets faster with experience. Or is there something about a paycheck and a deadline that work like a pencil-sharpener on your brain? I accept I’m always going to be in awe of other writers, but this is ridiculous.

    A little help?

  2. Okay, a couple of points to ease your pain.

    First off – this isn’t a feature project, it’s a TV gig; a half hour TV gig at that. So we’re only talking 23 pages here, not 90-110.

    Secondly – two days is two days solid, somewhere around 30 hours of continuous work (excluding food and toilet breaks). How much of your six months was actually sat at your computer? I’m guessing that wasn’t a daily occurance.

    Some of my early scripts took me years to finish, primarily because writing was a fantasy rather than a serious career ambition. By that I mean I only wrote when I could be arsed, rather than every day as a regular job. As soon as I started treating writing as a ‘proper’ job, my productivity went through the roof.

    And yes, when someone throws money at you and is waiting for the result, you tend to be a lot more motivated. Even when there’s no money involved, the fact someone’s asked to see something and wants to make it means you work harder.

    The main point here though is planning. The reason I got myself into this fix is because I ignored a logic flaw at the planning stage.

    Actually, I think I just didn’t notice it until after I’d finished, but it all comes down to inadequate planning and moving to script stage too quickly. The idea behind planning things out properly is that when it comes to putting the words on paper you should already know what’s going on. You shouldn’t be staring at the screen wondering how to make things work.

    Yes, sometimes that happens because the second or third draft needs to be totally different to incorpprate the director’s big new idea (dancing hippos!) or the finacier’s eight year old neice (she wants to be an actress), but that’s just the nature of the business.

    Generally speaking you should know where all the bits go and how it all fits together before you start writing. Not planning properly is the route to staring at the screen or ceiling wondering what the fuck you’re going to do next. Me getting stuck was largely my own fault.

    Oh and being in awe of other writers is a good thing. It proves you’re humble enough to learn new things. Anyone who isn’t in awe of someone in their field of expertise is a dick whose massive ego neatly hides the fact they haven’t got a clue what they’re doing.

  3. Name withheld due to embarrassment

    Nice words – thank you for taking the time. You’re right of course – proper prior planning prevents piss poor performance, and you’re also bang on the money in my case – it’s a third draft and so seemingly minor changes have a habit of coming back to bite me on the arse just when I think I’ve got it all figured out. Whew – I’m not feeling so inadequate suddenly.

    Great blog – keep up the good work.

  4. Pingback: The verdict’s in … « The Jobbing Scriptwriter

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