Procrastination and Excuses aka The Writing Update

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I’ve been a real piece of shit when it comes to writing and I’m starting to piss myself off. If you’ve read all my posts, you’re probably just as confused as I am about what I’m writing and where it’s all gone. So for a quick catch-up —  Lets take a trip down memory lane.

When I started this blog I was working on a Zombie Apocalypse feature. I got as far as laying out the basic structure and writing the first 15 or so pages before —

I got a new writing parter and immediately went to work on a thriller.  We actually finished that screenplay. We never did re-writes and it’s wallowing in 1st shitty draft mode somewhere on my computer. Will I go back to it someday? Who knows. I ended up moving to LA shortly after and the writing partner and I, understandably, went our separate ways, but —

Before I moved to LA, my writing partner and I worked on a short together that actually got produced. It was an interesting learning experience and —

While working on this short we got produced, I was also starting to beat out a new screenplay about an alien. I think I got halfway through the first act before I really started getting lost. I don’t really remember when I gave up on it… but I did. And shortly after —

I moved to LA! And then I immediately went back to work on the Zombie Apocalypse script. I pretty much flew through Act 1… and got lost again.  Are we seeing a pattern here? But then —

I worked on a feature and realized I might have better luck writing a lower budget screenplay.  It was a dark comedy and I fucking flew through the 1st Act again… and amazingly got through the first half of the second act. But then I hit the midpoint. More trouble.  But I was committed.  I worked on it off and on, and decided to set a goal for myself by aiming to have a decent draft done in time to submit to the Nicholl Fellowship. HAHA! No. Of course that didn’t happen.  So —

I missed that deadline and got wind of another competition that caught my interest. It was being held by the writers store. Basically I had to write the first 15 pages of a log-line provided to me.  This was a really fun project. I didn’t place in the top 10, but I had a lot of fun just writing those 15 pages. I really had to clean it up and make it the very best it could be. One of my first experiences doing rewrites and rewording. My script wasn’t chosen for god knows what reason. But I still think it was some of the more polished work I’ve done.

Then shortly afterwards I took that year-long job in hell where I basically neglected everything in life. And even though I admitted it early this year… for the continuation of that job I still neglected writing. I’ve been frustrated and burnt out. However I was dabbling in a pilot script from time to time. One I think I’ve called The Dark Pilot.  Up to this point everything I’ve done has been spec features. But I’ve realized I watch WAY more TV than movies. I’ll save that topic for a future post, but basically the point of this post is —

I’ve been pretty horrible at writing. As you can see, I’ve completely shied away from writing posts about screenwriting… because what do I have to say about it? Why should any of you listen to what I have to say about writing if I can’t even finish a fucking thing. They say the number 1 mistake a new writer makes is NOT WRITING. I make that mistake almost every day. But I do want to change.

I quit that job in hell on a daytime TV show. I’m back working in the world of scripted, and I think it’s invigorated me. In the short two months I’ve been back in scripted I have met people I could totally hand over a polished screenplay to. People who would read it if I asked. Not only that, but people in a place to actually do something about it.  I’ve been reading screenplays again, and I’ve been writing.

I’m not going to say, “This is it! This is the energy I’ve been looking for! This time I will finish something great!” Because I don’t want to lie to you, and I don’t want to lie to myself. But I blog on a website titled 12ptCourier… and what is the point if I don’t keep my readers appraised of my writing struggles.

So, if you’re wondering. Here is the real update on all my writing projects.

Zombie Apocalypse – Started out as a feature. Then I tried to develop it into a web mini series. Last left off I was going to write and direct it myself and shoot it up in Michigan off a kick-starter campaign. Currently it’s just a concept… and needs further thought.

Thriller – Still sitting in first draft mode on my computer. No current plans to revise.

Alien Feature – 1st Act finished. No current plans to continue.

Dark Comedy – 1st and 2nd act finished. Having major problems figuring out how to end it. Currently sitting untouched for a few months. Still have plans to finish this one. Not working on it at the moment. Check back later.

Sci-Fi – First 15 pages done. No current plans to write the entire feature… but something I may come back to. Still think it’s a bad ass concept.

The Dark Pilot – This is where my current energies are completely focused.  I busted out 15 pages last night alone. The major character arcs for the entire season have been placed. The major beats for the pilot have been set.  The plot points for the first three episodes have been roughly outlined. Current plans are to get a polished version of the pilot finished to send out for notes as soon as I can.

So in closing, if you’re having trouble finishing something, know that you’re not alone. But also know that there really aren’t any excuses. You’re just really bad at this. Like me. And the only thing we can do is accept it and strive to be better.

3 thoughts on “Procrastination and Excuses aka The Writing Update”

  1. I always tell my students there’s no such thing as “no time to write.” We all have the same amount of hours in the day, and when we work soul-sucking jobs, especially in areas of a related field that don’t fulfill us, it’s hard.

    Hey, when I worked 18 hour days on set, writing anyway was hard. When I worked 90 hours a week on Broadway, writing was hard. I was exhausted nearly all the time. But, first and foremost, I always defined myself as a writer, so I always made sure I wrote, at least four days a week. I tried for six, but if I made four, it was enough progress to show something for that exhaustion.

    But writing is always a choice. And not writing is always a choice.

    Also, unfinished projects drain creative energy and keep you from being able to focus on projects that might actually land you a viable gig.

    I suggest coming up with a temporary or false ending for the pieces you want to shelve for the moment, so that you can put them in stasis, but without the subconscious drain. That way, you can focus on the most viable and interesting projects right now.

    As a full-time writer, who makes my living with my pen (screen), if I don’t write, I don’t eat and can’t pay the bills. I’m always juggling my own creative work with what people are paying me to write and/or edit. If I couldn’t move between projects, I couldn’t survive.

    I work on what I call my Priority Project first thing in the morning, do my first 1K of the day on that — before breakfast, before shower, before any of it.

    Then I switch between other people’s projects — contracted articles, script coverage, script editing, other editing clients — depending on deadline and money. Best paid/tightest deadline gets top priority. That’s the “day job” portion of the day.

    Then, I try to do another writing session on my preferred work later in the day or at night. But if I can’t, because of additional work coming in or whatever, at least I always have that 1K (if it’s a script, I try for 4-10 pages), no matter what else goes bonkers in the day, and no one can take it away from me (even when I know it needs massive rewrites). And those 1Ks add up.

    I make my writing students commit to a minimum of 1K/day for at least 5 days/week for the duration of our time together. Once they get into the habit of it, it takes about 1-2 hours.

    Sometimes it means getting up earlier (my preferred way). Sometimes it means staying later.

    It’s tough at first, but once you get into the rhythm, you miss it if you skip a few days.

    But the important thing is to create “final scenes” for projects you’re putting aside, so you have the psychological freedom to move forward, in my own experience, and in my experience with my students.

  2. @devonellington – I agree. Put some type of closure on my idling projects so I can focus on what I really need to get done. Thanks for the advice!

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