Friday, July 28, 2017

What is the most important rule in writing?

Even though there are a lot of good rules when it comes to writing, some rules are more important than others. No matter how good you are as a writer, some of these rules are so important that you should almost never break them.

For example, when it comes me, I pretty much always try to obey the rule of 'finish what you start writing'. No matter what happens, I try to get the task done, so that I could feel better about myself and that I could move on to something else.

Still, even though this 'finish what you start writing' is a super important rule, it's not the most important rule about writing. Writing and managing to finish your screenplay is only the second most important part about writing.

At least in my opinion, the most important rule about writing has to do with 'publishing' and 'rewriting'. No matter how good you are as a scribe, you should never publish stuff without rewriting it - unless you absolutely have no other choice.

By that I mean that it's almost impossible to ever get everything right in your first draft. It's pretty much guaranteed that every single time you will make some fairly big mistakes that you won't be able to pick up right away. 

When it comes to rewriting and getting things right, there are no quick fixes for it. It always takes time and you need to be able to clear your mind, get a fresh pair of eyes and more or less forget what you managed to write earlier.

Writing good stuff simply isn't about who's the fastest writer or who's the first to get certain amount of words on paper. It's not about rushing to the finish line and thinking that being fast makes you somehow special as a writer.

On the contrary, writing good stuff is always about being aware of your flaws and being aware of you making mistakes. It's about being aware of your weaknesses as a writer and knowing where you're likely going to go wrong.

Especially when it comes to me, I have too many times published scripts and articles without thinking them through enough. I have written them in a hurry and thought that there was no difference whether I gave them another look or not.

If only I had understood earlier that I didn't have to publish everything right away as a writer. If I had only understood that writing is so much more about rewriting than it's about being fast, things would have been so much better.

As a whole, even though it's obviously important that you almost always have to 'finish' your projects, that itself isn't all there is to writing. It's not the only thing that matters and counts when it comes to creating quality stuff.

On the contrary, being too content with having finished your first draft doesn't mean that your job is now done. It doesn't mean that you have figured everything out and that you can now start slacking with your project.

In reality, writing your first draft is only the first part in the writing process. It's only the first step, and in most cases you have to do a lot of rewrites before you can be certain and confident that your script is in good shape.

In that sense, there is absolutely no shame in not getting everything right the first time. There's no shame in admitting that you made a lot of mistakes in your first draft and that you still need more time to get things figured out.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I finally managed to write my first film screenplay.

One of the biggest fears that I've had as a writer is that I'd never be able to write an original film screenplay. I was genuinely afraid that I didn't have it in me and that the best I could do was to write scripts for existing television shows. 

After all, writing movie screenplays takes a lot of effort and hard work. It takes so much discipline, creativity and persistence that I didn't think I would be able to come up with a script that would be good enough for my standards.

Nevertheless, even though I thought I didn't have it in me, three days ago I managed to finish the first draft of my first script. I managed to overcome the odds and managed to create something that I thought would never happen.

When it comes to me writing the script, there are at least three reasons why I was being able to finish it successfully. These reasons are: 1) having the need to write 2) having the discipline to write and 3) simply getting lucky.

In my case, the first reason of 'having the need to write' meant that I was desperate to write something that would challenge me. I wasn't feeling well at all - for certain reasons in my life - so I had to find a constructive way to deal with my emotions.

If I hadn't been feeling so bad inside, there's pretty much no chance that I would have started writing the script. In that case I would still be writing this blog without having had the courage to step outside of my comfort zone.

The second crucial factor in the process had to do with having a lot of discipline and persistence. I had a fairly steady writing routine, which more or less forced me to write every day, including during the weekends.

In practice, what this meant was that every single day I needed to spend at least three-four hours writing. No matter what happened during the day, I had to get results on paper that showed that I was taking my task seriously.

It simply wasn't enough that I would just write some random nonsense and that I'd call the day after that. I had to come up with real ideas that would progress the story and that these ideas would actually have to make sense.

When it comes to the third and the 'luck' part in the process, I think I was really fortunate during the writing process. Most of the time things - with certain exceptions of course - went as well as I could have ever hoped.

By that I mean that when I kept writing the script, pretty much every day I managed to come up with stuff that kept me going and that pushed the story forward. There were no days when I felt that I didn't get further with the script.

Especially when it came to creating the second main character, which also gave me the B-story, I consider myself to be super lucky. This is what gave me the 'Eureka' moment and made me feel that I might understand how storytelling works.

When it came to me having difficulties during the writing process, the biggest 'all is lost' moment happened when I was about to start rewriting. This is when it became obvious that I had made some mistakes and that I had to think about the story again.

Especially when it came to the second half in the script, things didn't make sense and there was no flow in the story. I was genuinely desperate and felt that there's no way on earth that I would get the script fixed.

Fortunately for me, even though these mistakes seemed huge at first, in the end they weren't that hard to fix. After getting some rest, I managed to solve pretty much all the problems that had to do with the structure in just a matter of hours. 

All in all, when it comes this whole process, it has to be said that I was very fortunate and that I got lucky. I feel so fortunate that I finally managed to finish this screenplay and that despite my doubts I proved myself that I could get the job done.

Even though these were admittedly one of the hardest two weeks in my life as a writer, I have no regrets about the process. It was definitely an experience worth going through, even though there were moments when I felt like dying.

In that sense, considering how awful I was feeling and how bad shape I was in only three weeks ago, it feels almost redundant whether the screenplay is good enough to be produced and whether it's good enough to win any awards.