Monday, March 09, 2009

The Writing Week (Vol. 2) part 62 - Writing Momentum

There's something that we've talked about indirectly here a lot, something that keeps us moving forward at a healthy pace, but once it's lost, it's hard to regain. That, my friends, is momentum. Just like in physics, I believe that there is a momentum for writers. You know when you have it, and when you don't.

On Tuesday of last week, I got notes from the League on my first draft of my Roman-army spec. And there were a LOT of notes. To give you some background, this particular project is one that about half of the League had major trouble conceiving of when I first outlined it. They thought there were major plot holes, huge character problems, and that I failed to get from A to B. All this based on a semi-coherent outline written more for my guidance than for theirs. nonetheless, they had some big concerns.

On Tuesday, all the doubters admitted that they were pleasantly and genuinely surprised - I hadn't written a perfect draft, but I proved to them that what I wanted to do was possible. As far as the responsibilities of a first draft, I had done what I needed to do. Yet, there was a flip-side to that; I had a great deal of work ahead of me, work that would change the tone and massive structural points of my script. In an effort to wrap my head around everything, I lost momentum on the project.

Writing momentum is something amazing, something great, and something psychologically terrifying, because the last thing in the world we want to do is lose it. I'm sure you've experienced it. You're working consistently, banging out a solid draft, when you miss one day of writing or take some time off in between drafts or any other number of things that cause you to immediately cool down. It's not a good feeling. Getting back to the computer gets harder with each day you're away from it. The only real cure seems to be to force yourself to sit down and wait it out, staring at the blinking cursor until you manage to get rolling again.

Well, on Friday, I found something out. I was at a meeting for work, typing away like a madman, taking minutes for five straight hours. As I sat there, fingers clicking over keys, I began visualizing the changes needed to improve my script, and I had the desire to run home and begin to make those changes. Maybe it was the fact that my mind was wandering by the time hour four of note-taking rolled around, maybe it was the beginning of the sickness that sent me home from work five hours early today, maybe I just had an epiphany, coincidentally, at that time. Whatever it was, the mere act of such frantic typing got my mind working, thrusting me into my script once more as if I had hit my stride and couldn't get my thoughts out fast enough. It's strange, but maybe the cure to a loss of writing momentum is frantic writing about something unrelated to your script

1 comment:

'Backer said...

Interesting point.

I remember one of our teachers once said that his best work came about when he was juggling several different projects, often writing across different mediums. I also find that reading other screenplays or novels can get the gears turning.

I wonder what psychological effect a typed word has on our brains.