To tell you that I want to pull my hair out at this stage is an understatement.
I am up to the sixth (and hopefully final) draft of my Apricot script. Why, you ask, are you still writing Nisrine? We thought your script was finished. Well, that's the beauty with screenplays (and other pieces of writing for that matter): they never are finished. There are always tweeks to be made, stage directions to be added, heart to be injected, genre to be crafted. Yes, we could just as easily shoot the first draft, or the second or the third, but we NEED to get this perfect. We have taken people's money (legally, of course), we have vowed that this will be an important and unique and poignant piece of filmic literature, and we have our reputations on the line. I do. my producer Gia does. We all do. To be content after only just one draft is a massive diservice in my opinon.
But the reality is, the blocks come. And when they do. Arghhhhhhh!
So, what do I do to help me with my writing process? What strategies do I follow to make the hair-pulling less severe? The following. And please, feel free to try:
1. TIMED WRITING
Set a timer (10 minutes) and just friggen write. Don't put the pen down. Don't stop tapping the keys. It may come out as absolute garbage but you may find, with the uncensored and sporadic nature of the task, that some gems are unravelled. For example, I just did a 10-minute writing session and turns out that Margaret Mary (my protagonist) enjoys making shapes with her spaghetti strands. Who would've thunk it?!
2. WHITEBOARD OR OTHER BLANK WHITE SURFACES
Sometimes, we need to see a blank piece of something in order to generate those creative juices. There's just something about the whiteness of a whiteboard or a white piece of A4 paper that screams 'new beginnings'. It makes you look at the story with fresh eyes, allows you to play and scribble, and jot and map out. A lot of the time, it is a more sophisticated form of procrastination but hey, beggars can't be choosers.
3. DO THE SWITCH
If you're not feeling the laptop, switch to paper. If you're not feeling the paper, switch back to the laptop. Each medium is good for a specific purpose. I find that my thoughts come out a lot easier onto paper (maybe because I've been writing journals ever since I was 10) and so I write in an exercise book to get out my initial ideas. Then, I move over to the laptop when I need to set and see a structure to those ideas; to make me feel as though my ideas are coming together visually. So, paper or laptop, it's all good.
4. JUST SIT AND WAIT
The strategy that most writers adopt I imagine. Just sit with that pen. Or sit in front of that laptop. And wait. Let go. Release the pressure. Sit. And wait. After twenty minutes of no talking, no forced thinking, SOMETHING is bound to come up. It's a strategy I use when I'm looking for parking as well. Works a charm. You can be that impatient driver circling the car park a million times, getting more and more frustrated with each circle or, you can be old mate 'I'll just wait here because mathematically speaking, something is bound to come up at some point today.' That guy. Be that guy.
5. MOVE AWAY
Not to Canada. Just from the task. Move away from the writing and do a completely non-related activity like taking down your Christmas tree or, I dunno, writing a blog entry on how to overcome writer's block (meta). Yes, you have a deadline and you need to sit yourself down and write at some point, but for now, in the midst of this writing meltdown of yours, take a load off. After all, we're not curing diseases here. It's just a piece of fiction. The world will continue to turn. So put sh** into perspective and live your life.
Disclaimer: all of these strategies, let's be honest, are forms of procrastination. To finish your script you just have to...finish your script. No matter how you do it, just do it. As long as you're MOVING FORWARD with each strategy and edging closer to that finish line, you're on the right track friend.