Friday 4 February 2011

Am I Living It Right?

When he was eleven my cousin said to me, "you're just one big movie really aren't you." Whether it was an observation or an insult; he had a good point.

I get a spare minute, and I think about watching a movie. I go on holiday, I see all new experiences as a chance to enrich my screenwriting. I meet a great girl and I'm instantly concerned about what impact she'll have on my creativity and writing.

You could see this as dedication. Or as a mental illness. Whatever it is - it leaves me incomplete. But then everyone's incomplete. At least I'm making movies.

Most people I know who do this for a living can't find an off switch. But it's not healthy. I bet Spielberg has an off switch. I bet he can spend a week on the beach with his family without driving himself crazy about his next project.

Or maybe he can't. Maybe this is the curse that comes with doing this for a living. I guess worrying all day about the third act or the casting of an actor is better than worrying about dying or reliving old grievances in your head.

I just know this isn't the optimal experience. I am not the writer who writes every day from nine whilst drinking a coffee and smiling. I'm the guy who screams at himself for seven months and convinces himself he's a failure before oppressing my creativity so much that it busts out of jail and creates something great just in time. That might be my process, or it might be bad habits I've had since I was a kid.

We can all recommend 'tips' to each other and share books like 'The War Of Art', but the reality is that this stuff is very personal. It's what life does. You might think Mary can't write because of bad habits, but maybe it's because she's still stuck in feelings about an old relationship, and her Grandma recently had a breakdown and because a producer is bullying her. Some writers can work from havoc but most of the time we crave that golden silence, perfect temperature and full stomach.

At times I have been prone to pretentiously believing this is some kind of special affliction that writers get. But it's life. Everyone has this in varying forms. You just have to keep waking up and working at it.

My writing is mostly about the magic of moments created between people. That's what excites me -- the possibilities of human interactions, I just need to remember to experience them myself, rather than miss them because I'm too caught up in my head.

Care to share?


  1. I'm so happy I started reading your blog. I used to think that, in order to be a good writer, I had to have more structure and self-discipline, like you say here, writing at 9 am with a cup of coffee. The more I pay attention, the more I see that is not the case at all.

    I recently saw an interview with Aaron Sorkin about his writing habits, and his way of working is very similar to your own. He procrastinates a lot and beats himself up for it, but in the end the magic happens and the end result is a brilliant script.

    Thank you so much for blogging, Kid. With your help, I've come to realize that I want to be a screenwriter. I'll try to give it time and I'll work when I'm inspired, but the more I think about it, the more I see that it's the perfect fit for me. Without you and your blog, I may never have even thought of it, so thank you. I'm finally excited and heading in a direction! :)

  2. That's amazing TB, thanks for sharing. :)