I be a good righter.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Phase 2

Oh hey.

Anyone still here?


It's just me?  Okay.  Then here we go:

I'm mid-cycle.  The same things happen every time I write a script.  No matter what I do to try to stop the inevitable, it always happens.  And I'm at that point.  So, instead of dwelling on it, I thought I'd tell, well, me, I guess, about it.

It starts simply enough.  An idea.  An idea that is so impossibly great, it's going to result in not just bidding wars but potentially actually wars.  Like, Pakistan will find out about it and bust out their nukes just so they can make it.  I am just that brilliant.

So, I'll start writing.  Notecards, outlining -- there will be some sort of organization.  If there's research to be done, I'll lose myself, lose sleep, lose my mind trying to find out everything there is to know about the subject.  My desk, my coffee table, any given surface will be covered in research.  My computer will be clogged up with many links to random websites.  Books will be purchased, borrowed, stolen.  People will be called, be it the FBI, former Aryans, current princesses.  If I can get a hold of them, I will.

Notes will be taken.  SO MANY NOTES.




If it's a X Show meets Y show kind of idea, I'll watch hours of X show and Y show.

Then I outline.  Or sometimes I don't.  Sometimes I'm too excited, so I just get straight into writing it.  I'm well-versed in "techno babble".  I'm a genius at placeholders, be it names, locations, or full on scenes.

I just need to get it out of my brain and onto the page.

During this time, there is a lot of back patting.  "OMG, BooM, that is GENIUS."  Perhaps I'll tell folks about this great scene I just wrote.  Perhaps I'll keep my genius to myself, after all, soon the script will be written, and then SO MANY PEOPLE will be patting my back for me.

Forget that it's a spec pilot, it's bound to sell.  Even though that's not how it works.  It's so brilliant, that I will become the exception to the writing sample rule.  Forget that it's a spec of an existing show.  It's so brilliant, the creators will get hold of it, and not only want to turn it into an episode, they'll want to hire me as the new EP and air my ep during sweeps.  In fact, the show I've specced is probably on the bubble, but due to my genius, it becomes the Hail Mary pass that works.  And the Network will give the show three more seasons, because of my episode.

So, I'm writing this masterpiece.  And there will be a moment where I realize that there's an errant piece of yarn in one of the scenes.  So, I'll pull it.  This is one of those pieces of yarn that, no matter how detailed my outline, how well I've thought it out, it inevitably shows up.  So I pick at it.  And it begins to unravel the script.

Or maybe I've not been as detailed as I need to be, and I've put in one of those placeholder scenes, and I've realized I have no idea what goes there.  That it needs to be there, but putting anything there will change everything.

Or maybe it's just that I'm tired, and my brain is overworked.

Whatever it is, I get to phase two of the writing.  Where everything sucks.  The whole script sucks.  My writing sucks.  I'll tend to look at other scripts I've written during this time, and realize, yes, all these years I've been a hack.  That I should quit now, and save myself, my brain, and go into teaching mathematics or become a plumber -- at this point, I've realized I've bothered so many people to read the shit I've produced, that it seems karmically sound, as an idea, to clean up other people's shit.

There have been scripts that have been abandoned during this phase.  Where I realized the idea is the problem, and it will never be fixed.  There are scripts where I've persevered, and gotten to the next phase.

Finishing it.  Not so that it's completely done.  But so that it's something that is a somewhat cohesive draft.  Not quite the vomit draft, not really a first draft.  If I can push through and get to here, and have no bolded paragraphs or sentences (the way I indicate placeholder scenes/names/etc), I'm in pretty good shape.  Even if I'm still in hating mode.  If I make it through phase three, I'm golden.  Because then it's all about rewriting, tweaking, making.

Phase two is where I happen to be right now.  I'm a fucking ball of insecurity.  I am the worst writer to have ever walked this planet.  Basically, I should just be shot and put out of my misery.

What's weird though, something different is happening this time.  This idea is still the best I've ever had.  But, I feel certain that others are having the same idea across this fair city of ours.  So, I've figured out a really cool way to do it, I think.  I've reached out to writers I admire, because I believe so much in this concept, to help me get through this phase.  Thus far, across the board, people think it's a stellar concept.  I don't think producers will be beating down my door to buy it (as I thought two weeks ago upon the idea's inception).  But I think it's a solid concept that might garner me some meetings.

I'm taking a moment away from it, because I love it so much, that I'm willing to write a stupid blog post so that I can distract my brain from it for a moment and get back to it with fresh eyes.  Prior to this, if I was trying to finish it, I'd just push through, hating it and myself all the while.

It's tough to teach an old dog new tricks, I've heard.  I'm kinda jazzed about learning that I can interfere with my fucked up brain, and learn a newer, kinder way to deal with what I'm sure is normal writer fuckedupedness.

And putting it down here, these new tricks, have also helped me to feel a little invigorated.  To the point that I'm going to attempt to do a trick that the genius that is Jane Espenson does all the time:  A writing sprint.  For 60 minutes.  No stopping, no distractions, no phone, no interwebz, no TV, no self-doubt, no editing, no nothing.  Words on pages.  That's it.

Maybe I'll still hate it at the end of the hour.  Maybe I'll start to love it again.  Or me.  Or both.  Maybe I'll just go grab some pie, because pie makes everything better.

I won't know until the 60 minutes are over though, so...




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