Writer’s block and the insanity it can cause us is a necessary evil. It’s something everyone hates, and everyone has to deal with. The last two sentences took me eighteen hours to write. Not really but they could have. Real job, wife, kids, bills,errands, or just the Mets maybe not blowing an eighth inning lead keep my fingers off the keyboard at times I wish they were on. Then there are those times my fingers are tapping away and just stop, and they can’t start again. My mind goes blank, my story escapes me, and that evil voice whispers that I should leave the screenwriting to those that are good at it. The voice dares me, taunts me, and challenges me to prove it wrong.
So what’s your unique secret weapon to fight back? My leadoff hitter in my arsenal is music. Nothing seems to get me more relaxed and out of the anxiety cycle then zoning out with my ear buds in. It can be any song too. Without fail, a few songs into things, I’ll hear a melody or a lyric that hits home. The story being told in the song may or may not resemble anything in my story. Somehow though a rocker’s ex trying to get back with him, or mommy issues hit something in my head that clears it. Other times, I envision my favorite seat in the theater when my film gets released. Top left last row, aisle seat, Twizzlers and a medium sprite, I sit and listen to the audience buzz about how much they loved it, the closing credits roll over the melody of the song playing on my iPod.
Two years ago I got a great piece of advice from a professor at NYU. I told him of my frustration with the volume of pages for the time I spent in front of my computer. He told me that writing isn’t always banging away on the keyboard. There’s a process and a time for your mind to work through the twists and turns of the story and its characters. Different spells of writer’s block last different amounts of time. For me, each spell has always led to a new or an improved segment of the journey.
Wanting to tell your story, gaining fame and riches, quitting the real world job or whatever motivates you to write is what you have to tap into so you can write. Recognize the frustration for what it is. Fix a character, a plot point, or in many cases, take a deep breath and realize the satisfaction and joy of telling your story.