One of the biggest misconceptions about doing anything creative is that it relies only on inspiration. The truth is, if that really was the case, then very few people would come up with anything good, or at least, they wouldn’t do very often.
While we need inspiration, it isn’t the only thing required. For that, we’re going to need that h-word: hard work. If it sounds like a cliché, it’s because it happens to be true. Except, there are probably times when we’d like to think that isn’t the case. That all it takes to make anything creative, whether it’s writing a script or a novel, making a film or composing music, is that flash of inspiration and then – boom – the idea arrives in our brain, fully formed. No more work or effort needed, 100% complete. Finished before it’s even started, and absolutely no rewrites needed.
If you’ve ever attempted to create anything, you’ll know how far removed from reality that is. As enjoyable as writing a screenplay is (and that’s not to say it isn’t difficult) you can’t just write when you feel inspired to, or just simply when you ‘feel’ like it. To put it another way, imagine in any other line of work, going to your boss/manager and saying something like, “I’m sorry, I can’t work today. I don’t feel like it.” What sort of a response would you get? If you are serious about making a living writing (in fact, doing anything at all creative) then that means treating it like a job, whether you’re actually getting paid or not.
If you are getting paid, and especially if it’s your sole source of income, it must be treated like it. If you don’t write, you won’t pay the bills. Basically, if you don’t act like a professional writer and take it seriously, regardless of whether you are yet, your chances of becoming one are reduced.
We’re back to hard work, again. An idea may have lots of potential, but as long as it stays an idea, that’s all it has – potential. Before it can become a finished product, it has to be worked on. Ideas are unruly things. They need taming. For example, that idea for a screenplay might sound original at first, but with a bit of research, it could be that it isn’t as ground-breaking as you first thought, and in order for it stand out, it will require more development.
Another reason to work on an idea is to get the most out of it that you can. There is nothing more frustrating than seeing a film or TV show where the concept sounds amazing on paper, but the execution falls short of what it could be. It can leave the audience with the impression that the writer(s) have played it safe, when they could have challenged audiences in some way, maybe even pushed a few boundaries.
So how can we make sure we get the most out of our ideas? How do we get past the dreaded the dreaded ‘writers block’? Below are a list of tips that I’ve found useful, and continue to do so, when writing:
* Ask yourself why you’re writing the story in the first place – what are you trying to say? what is your motivation? This can be especially helpful in keeping the narrative on track.
* Document the research process, especially how you came up with the idea. This will help keep the story grounded, especially if you get lost during the writing/re-writing.
* Give your characters backstories. Chances are you won’t use most of this, but it will help audiences feel they’re watching real people, with emotions and histories. It will also determine your characters goals, and how they will react to the events of the plot.
* Make writing a discipline. Write when you can, but not just when you feel like it. Even if most of what you write on those days is never used, write something. It can be edited later.
* Always remember why you started writing in the first place, what/who it was that inspired you. So on those occasions when you’d rather do anything other than write, this will hopefully remind you why you’ve chosen this career ahead of anything else.
Many thanks for reading. Please feel free to add a comment : )