A Stroll Through the Park

It’s time. My current script is about done, and I’m in the last vestiges of testing the dialogue. I’m making sure my subtext and humor do their jobs, and my hooks and twists are ready to blow your socks off. Now starts the marketing, which is the scariest part of the process for most writers. I had a new writer ask me the other day how it feels to market your screenplay. Liberating? Torturous? Painful? All of the above?

Well, here’s my take on marketing, the only way that I can really describe it. Marketing a new screenplay is like having a newborn baby. Yep. Really.

Picture this: You have your newborn bundled up, in her best and cutest outfit, ready for her first outing to the park. Everyone’s interested in your bundle, and stops to see. Some people cannot stop telling you how beautiful she is, and some will want to pick her up and hold her. You just hope that when they do, she doesn’t spit up on them. Then there’s the judgers. They walk by your baby, and say what a handsome and robust little boy she is. You, in clipped words, correct them, by saying that the handsome boy is actually a beautiful, petite, baby girl. You now become protective of the baby, but start looking at her a bit more critically. Is she going to grow into that nose? Will she need surgery on that thing later? Better to dress her in pink so they know she’s a girl.

Marketing a screenplay is just like that. You need to get past the protective stage of the newborn, and realize that your work is changeable, and grows into something bigger than you hoped it would ever be. Words on paper, characters with subtext, and racy dialogue become production, actors, action, and comments of “Oh my God! I can’t believe they did that!”

Like that newborn, your initial script will be developed by everyone who puts a hand on it. Will there be critical words? Absolutely! No piece of work will ever appeal to everyone. And it shouldn’t. You will rewrite, and rework for the director, the producer, and for the actor who doesn’t like the way the dialogue is written. You will watch your baby grow into a beautiful, thoughtful piece of cinema, up there proudly for the world to see. It’s a matter of teamwork, and flexibility to do what it takes to get the screenplay produced.

That’s the goal, to share it with the world. It’s why you wrote it in the first place, right?

And you, the writer, will sit back, tearing up, remembering the newborn that she was. She’s now grown into a beautiful, confident woman, out there in front of everyone on that screen. Sometimes you just have to spring for that nose job to make it happen.

Writer’s Block

Writer’s block. Just saying it brings a chill to those who make their living by the words they write. It’s painful, and mostly ignored by those who don’t consider it an actual affliction.

I’m just recovering from more of a writer’s cramp, than a block. The kind that the more you massage it, the more it hurts. Of course it could be that it’s trending into the holidays, and I have much more on my mind. Like can I regift that awful sweater I got last year to someone else and get away with it? Oh, and sales!

To release the hold the writer’s block has on you, here are several suggestions to try.

  • Walk away, or run away. Getting out and doing something else for a little while, like gardening, can sometimes bring on inspiration.
  • Take a long, hot bath or shower. This is my favorite, as the shower fairy and the idea fairy are good friends. They whisper ideas to me as the water flows. Just remember your water bill can hurt, too.
  • Go for a walk. Your dog probably misses you anyway. Can’t find the leash? Ask the dog. I’ll bet you that he’ll point right at it. That kind of excitement is contagious.
  • Talk to someone. Anyone. Ask them what’s new in their lives. Where have they visited recently? Inspiration is everywhere, and people say the funniest things.
  • Stop being so hard on yourself. Most blocks come from fear of being judged, and from looking for perfection. Put down the whip.
  • Just write down anything. They call them first drafts and rough drafts for a reason.

I write in stages. I look at my idea, type out a few things, then walk away and do something else. In this house it’s usually cleaning. I then go back, and type a little bit more. I do this several times until I have a bunch of ideas to work with. Then I do something I call programming. Right before I go to sleep, I allow all of my ideas to float around in my brain for about 5 minutes. I then open my Kindle and read for 15-20 minutes. When I wake up in the morning and grab my tea, most often I find that I have thoughts to add to the ideas I gave to my brain to work on the night before.

Your brain is a powerful computer. Put it to work and let yourself get some sleep for once!

Quote of the Week: “writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all”  –Charles Bukowski