You gotta want it. A lotty lot.

Figuring out a way to wrench out time to write, especially after working all the livelong day at your horridly painful job, is excruciatingly difficult. Especially if you’ve never had any real success writing. You have to maneuver forward as best you can, trying to convince yourself that this is a good idea. Brutally difficult at best, writing is physically debilitating, emotionally draining, and a big fat waste of time… at worst.

However, I do not believe in the worst. Especially the “waste of time” part. You’re always learning, always improving. If only by dull banging-your-head-against-the-wall repetition, you get better. It’s never a waste of time.

Writing is so vague and semi-invisible, it’s hard to make yourself do it when all you have is the little voice inside telling you you should do it. Doing battle against naysayers, like a spouse, or friends or false friends, or the evil little voice inside that soothes, “this is never going to work. Why don’t you just go to bed at a normal time?” Defeating the voices around you and defeating the one inside yourself is, in a lot of ways, more difficult than writing. When you have so many other forces tugging at you, just sitting down to write can be the hardest thing.

Well, solving the puzzle that is the incredible mess you made of the project you’re working on is more difficult than sitting down to write. Hell, all of it’s difficult.

However! When it is moving forward, nicely, at a good clip, and you feel like you’re not the biggest idiot in the world, writing feels pretty good. That’s the best you can hope for — to feel pretty good a reasonable percentage of the time.

Get in a writing group. Find like-minded people. Get some encouragement. Try to get far away from people who make you feel bad about yourself for doing what you’re doing.

To rip a “writing hour” a day out of your 24 hour day is critical, and savagely difficult. Two hours a day would be a miracle.

“I still have vivid recollections of putting in day after day of trying a case in front of a jury, which is one of the most exhausting activities I know about, dashing up to the law library after court had adjourned to spend three or four hours looking up law points with which I could trap my adversary the next day, then going home, grabbing a glass of milk with an egg in it, dashing upstairs to my study, ripping the cover off my typewriter, noticing it was 11:30 p.m. and settling down with grim determination to get a plot for a story. Along about 3:00 in the morning I would have completed my daily stint of a 4,000-word minimum and would crawl into bed.”

Erle Stanley Gardner (whose Perry Mason novels have sold 300 million copies)

You’ve got to be like Erle Stanley Gardner. You have to really, really want it.

Wanting it “a lot” is not going to be enough. To make screenwriting or any other artistic medium actually happen, you have to want it like a drowning man clawing for the surface so he can get a lungful of oxygen and not die.

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8 Comments

Filed under Good Writing, Rewriting, Screenwriting, Writing Process

8 responses to “You gotta want it. A lotty lot.

  1. Richard Michael Lucas

    Fucking A, William! Love it!

    Date: Thu, 16 Jul 2015 15:54:55 +0000 To: richardmichaellucas@hotmail.com

  2. I’m very interested to see what tenacious filmmakers come from the lot being raised now… you know, the lot where everyone gets a trophy, and no one’s feelings are ever hurt. It was losing that me want to win, and learning to cope that made me write and want to excel. It’s never easy, but I bet it’s going to be so much harder for future generations.

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      Helicopter parents, protecting their children from every skinned knee along the way, are doing their kids no service. As soon as the former student enters the workforce, it’s going to be “If I hear from your mother, you’re fired.” They’ll learn then, but all at once with no learning curve. It will be like being hit by a tidal wave. They’ll either learn or they won’t. And then they can move back in with mom and dad.

  3. Thanks for all your great posts. This one helps a lotty lot right about now.

  4. SA CARPENTER

    HEY ALL YOU PROTAGONIST!!!!

    I think everyone should adopt a goal of writing one page per day. In four months you’ll a 120 page puke draft. I’ve finished two full length features this way. I ‘m currently forty pages into a third.

    JUST WRITE!!!!!

    SA CARPENTER

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      I TOTALLY agree. One by one, the pages pile up. Print every day’s output every day. The rush when you move from a tiny binder clip to a bigger one is indescribable. Just go for it. If you write it, you can make it better. If you never write it, it’ll never be anything.

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