Writing without deadlines, is sort of like dieting without motivation. You try, but only half heartedly and of course you do a lot of lying to yourself. When the pages aren’t written (the pounds not lost) you just shrug and say, “ah..I’ll do better tomorrow.” You wait for the winds to blow just right so inspiration can drift in even though you know better…you know it takes real discipline (i.e doing shit when you don’t want to).
This year I thought I’d give myself some self induced motivation by joining ScriptFrenzy…It would give me a deadline (though not one with any threat -or treat-behind it) and I thought I’d crack the writing whip just to say I finished the project. Hell, I wouldn’t labor over it like I usually do. Just slap some words on the page and see if I could, in fact, write 100 pages in 30 days and I wouldn’t give a damn if it sucked or not! But in the end, I think I never really caught the frenzy like I was hoping.
Started frenzied enough. I spent a day completely outlining my idea for a three act play. Didn’t love the idea but liked it well enough and geez, I said I would not give a shit anyway right? So dive in. April 1st came! I opened a new program and did my usual stare down of the blank page. After several minutes I typed: Act One, Scene One…oh shit we’re on our way. I could feel the excitement. I wanted my characters to speak. I leaned in to listen to them. They were silent.
Then…suddenly….a vision of the set. I described it. Then, people. I put them in place. They began to ad lib on the topics I was throwing at them. Wonderful!!! Bliss….I was so overjoyed I had to get up…get a sip of Diet Coke….pace around a bit. I tried to think of plays I loved, how I could tweak my idea to be more solid, better, stronger! By page two, I was already turning into my usual over critical, desperate for perfection self. The writing slowed. Then halted. I thought what I might need is to read some other plays for inspiration (one of my favorite procrastination tactics).
At the library I got the collected plays of Edward Albee (vol.1) because I love Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Also got a collection of Noel Coward and Neil Simon. So, as you can see, I was circling the drain of comedy with some dark touches. Books in hand, I started skimming them, trying to settle into one and hoping to capture the rhythm of where the acts end and begin. A few pages in, it occurred to me that it would be MUCH faster to just watch film versions of some of the plays…yeah! TV as homework is always fun. I ran to the couch.
Thanks to Netflix Instant play, I soaked up a few films. I forgot to pay attention to narrative structure. I was into the plot. Oh well, I figured I’d do better tomorrow.
Several tomorrows later, I didn’t save my document and lost a weeks worth of work (for me that was a few pages). So angry and disappointed I couldn’t see straight, I shoved the project aside and went back to reading plays to help inspire maybe a new idea. None came. I reopened the play, minus the revisions and pages, and began again.
There’s actually 8 glorious days left with Script Frenzy and even though I’ve only got 12 pages of material, I still believe I’ll suddenly put my nose to the grindstone and produce 50 pages in a day. Everyone else seems to write 20 pages a day, or at least a weekend. Though I may be behind on pages, I certainly learned a lot about my obsticles in writing a draft and am learning how to overcome them. I learned a very valuable lesson in saving ones work regularly.