I create context. I also write blog posts:

Finding A Reason Not To Write

Posted: July 10th, 2010 | Author: | Tags: | 2 Comments »

I would say that I love writing, but that’s only really like a half-truth: I like the end result of writing, I like reading what I’ve written. And the process is satisfying too, knowing that I’ve taken something from nothing to completion, I like that I’ve pulled an idea out of the air and made something of it.

[At this point, I should probably point out that I'm talking about writing screenplays and stories in this post. When I'm being paid to write something, I'm always on. ;-)]

But the actual act of writing sucks. The blank page, the writer’s block (which I don’t even believe is real, but that’s for another post…), the hand cramps… there’s always something standing in the way. I write under really specific conditions: I have to have the right background music, I have to have yellow Staples legal pads and Uniball Vision pens (they allow me to write at just the right speed: anything too quick and it’s a mess; anything too slow and I lose track of thoughts–God, this doesn’t sound like a product endorsement, does it? I’m just trying to convey that I’m picky…), the lighting has to be right, I have to be away from the TV and the computer, and I usually like a glass of wine to be sitting nearby — though, that matters less now. I can’t watch movies or read before writing because my characters all morph into the characters I’ve just seen and that throws everything off.

So most of my “writing time” is spent actively trying to find something to do instead of writing. It’s a world of excuses, and my standard for accepting them is incredibly low…

My outline isn’t complete (enough)

This sounds stupid, but I can’t write without knowing exactly what is going to happen. Even if I’m only three scenes in, I need to know how it’s going to end and what scenes I’m going to include in Act II. Spontaneity comes eventually, and it’s actually where everything good about my writing comes from, but for some reason, it’s basically the enemy. Probably because writing without an outline leads to tangents leads to rewriting. And that means sitting down to do it more.

I don’t know my characters

This I don’t understand, because characters develop and evolve throughout a story, and they’re not going to be the same on page 50 as they are on page one… or ten, or 20 even. But until I’ve spent a lot of time in a character’s head (or is it “they’ve spent a lot of time in my head?”), I’m not writing him. Which, now that I think about it, is pretty convenient for me.

I need to do more “research”

Who am I kidding? This one’s a pretty blatant excuse for me to surf the internet for a while instead. I love writing about things I don’t know (case in point: the one big script I’ve written is about scientists; I haven’t paid any attention to science since 8th grade.)

So with that, I’m off to do some writing… Though, my wrist does kinda hurt already from this post. And I did just watch three episodes of The Office…. Maybe I’ll just go do that some more.

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2 Comments on “Finding A Reason Not To Write”

  1. 1 Nick Shein said at 6:53 pm on July 10th, 2010:

    Since most of what I write these days is either poetry or CNF, I don’t have outlines or characters (beyond the autobiographical ones). But I sure do love my “research.” And I find it incredibly tough to sit down and write-write; I have no problem writing emails, blog posts, witty Facebook repartee, but turning off the Internet and staring at a blank screen is a tough one. It might actually be easier to do it longhand.

    Have you tried scheduling writing time for yourself — a certain hour every day? There was a point in my life when I would get up, grab coffee, and start writing, and write for at least an hour. That was productive. Something like that might provide the discipline you need.

  2. 2 Pete said at 10:19 pm on July 14th, 2010:

    Hey Nick,

    Thanks for the response! I’m with you, I will sit on an idea for days or months without wanting to sit down and actually put it on paper because it’s hard. For whatever reason — probably because I don’t want to rewrite it — it’s like I’ve only got one shot at it and I really want to make it good, so I keep putting it off until I can do it justice. Which of course is not a point I’m ever going to get to. It’s like a psychological hump that I — and others — need to get over. Dr. Darling from Keuka tried to help, telling us that we actually had to sit down and write, that the “inspiration” or whatever people called it wasn’t just going to come to us in the middle of the night. And it was true, but it’s still damned hard.

    As far as getting away from the Internet and distractions, I hand write almost everything I sit down to do, at least the first draft of it (see the picture at the top of this post!). I like it because it’s more physical for me, but also because typing it is when I check for grammar/spelling/etc. and make revisions and throw out sections that are rubbish (I’ve been watching a lot of Top Gear lately and words like “rubbish” have entered my vocabulary).

    As far as finding a time to write, well, I’m going to blame this one on the distractions as well. Who has time to write when Facebook and Twitter need to be checked, and there’s a dude freaking out over rainbows on Youtube? I need to just buckle down and actually schedule time to write.

    Another problem I face is that I’m writing for work all the time and there are days when I just don’t want to write anymore. I’m sure I’m not doing as much as you are — I’m not doing nearly what I did in a day at LIC — but I’m finding it difficult. Almost because I don’t really mind the writing I do now. When I was at LIC writing asbestos articles and all the other bullshit, writing at home was almost nice. It was like going from listening to horrible music all day to turning on something nice at night; it was relieving to get that change of pace. But now, I don’t mind so much what I do during the day, so it’s that much harder to push to do it more at night.

    Thanks for chiming in! I appreciate it!

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