12.29.09 Okay so you’ve found a story that’s in the public domain which you’re rabidly excited about and can use however you want. Or, more likely, you haven’t. In desperation you’ve settled on a character with a strong desire which could lead her/him into conflict. The operative word is ‘could’. But HOW?
I’ve found Syd Field’s Screenwriter’s Workbook extremely helpful: it’s a step-by-step approach that breaks the job down into what to do today. It’s simple. He treats screenwriting like brick laying. My copy ended up in tatters from over-use and I eventually had to buy a second one.
But, before we get ahead of ourselves, what if you’re not shredding your copy of Syd Field? What if you spend most of your time and energy ridiculing or second-guessing any idea you might have? How do I know this?
Should the day come when you can no longer bear the thought of your script, much less of approaching your desk, you might want to take a crack at Lawrence Block’s Write For Your Life affirmations. It’s astonishing to think that a sophisticated subconscious can be tricked by a tape of affirmations but I’m telling you, this one works. And it has for me for years.
Strap on some headphones and go for a walk- or find a baseball bat and hit your mattress. I come back feeling refreshed, recharged and eager to sit back down (and it’s not just from pounding the mattress). For a preview of the tape, click here and advance to 2:13 into the video. (The guy listens to the very tape.) (No, all of the affirmations are not so completely crazy.)
Should your problem persist (i.e. no story is emerging), it’s time for systemic nutrition – Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.
Run to the nearest bookstore and buy the book. You can do it on your own or better yet, get a few friends to form an Artist’s Way group and do it together. The Artist’s Way is a workbook jam-packed with challenge, fun and inspiration. I met one of my favorite actors in an Artist’s Way class and have been in a little Artist’s Way group with friends since before I ever took the class. I can’t recommend it enough. And this is from a person who is ‘not a joiner’.
These tools have been trusted friends since my first attempt at writing a feature length script. I’d love to hear your suggestions on how to outfox writer’s block. There’s plenty of room in the comments section below so please be my guest.