This week's Answer:
Don’t worry, Tricia.
I have plenty of time to spare, but since I, too,
don’t feel like writing this week
I forgot: you’re
depending on a reply.
And I’ve committed myself to writing this
e-column every week.
And the funniest thing about that is I discovered
that every time I sit down to honor that commitment (like
now) I don’t always hear John Philip Souza playing
within or feel every fiber of my being aching to find its
meaning of existence by typing some words on a keyboard.
Darn it. But
there it is. Being
a writer can certainly appear to be a glamorous and
exciting life. Uh-huh.
Pardon me while I try to keep my eyes open for the
next forty minutes and not yearn to go outside and take a
walk in the sun (when I’ll find myself thinking, instead
of how pretty the flowers look or how nice the breeze
feels on my face, it’ll be, “What do I need for my
third act confrontation?”
We’re doomed, I tell you, Tricia.
Doomed to create and create again.
Get out of the business now before you find
yourself like me: waking
up to – not my dreams -- but sitcom ideas!
Save yourself before it’s too late!)
What I’ve found out is that, no
matter how idealistic my initial urge was to write a
particular story, I can’t count on that urge to carry me
can recall that urge; call it up as a refueling
procedure, but what happens when I don’t even feel like
putting any gas in the tank?
What if I could care less about my high and mighty
aspirations and have forgotten when I was only recently on
Mount Story and the God of Great Ideas visited me by
showing me the Burning Script?
Or the Ten Plot Points?
What then? What
“then” is that you must find a motivation.
If you don’t, then you can consider yourself a
NMNW, which I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy (well,
maybe the guy who suddenly stopped in front of me the
other day – as though he had a right to just because he
happened to have a yellow busload of children).
probably don’t know what a NMNW is.
It’s probably for the best.
But, just for educational purposes, I’ll tell you
(and hope to the God of Great Ideas and his entire
pantheon of Development Execs in the Sky that you never
become this): A
There, I said it. It’s a disease. An
epidemic, if truth be told.
And it’s catching.
You can get it just by spending three minutes with
somebody who calls himself a writer (although he
“hasn’t actually written anything but has a lot of
great ideas”). But
don’t you give it no never mind:
there’s sure as shootin’ a cure.
But only one. It’s called “writin’.”
Even (and this could be the most important thing
I’ve mentioned – Lordy knows that everything before it
isn’t) when you don’t want to.
Tricia, you’ve got to find your “have
-- and this isn’t to complicate matters -- is really
your rediscovered “want to.”
Now go rest, young neophyte, before you carry water
and sweep out the temple.)
mentioned that you’ve been contracted to write a
probably have some kind of deadline (Why did they pick
that word for that concept?
“Dead.” So... are we “dead” if we don’t
do it? Maybe
we need to choose a new word.
Words have a lot of power.
I know: how
about “I’m Going To Completely Fail And Have To Move
In With My Parents Or Mother-In-Law Or Live In My
much better. At
least we wouldn’t be dead.
Or would we?) Seriously, what if we did think of that moment when something
is due as a more positive concept?
I think the problem starts back at school when we,
as carefree and immaculate children, are suddenly thrust
into that oppressive world of homework and assignments
that, if we don’t do, will cause us to have to run into
the dreaded boogey man, Bad Grades, or the life
force-sucking monster, Detention (sounds like a Japanese
creature feature. “Ahhhhh!
Run away now!
will stop at nothing to drain you of all your power!)
And, of course, as we progressed in the
“educational” system, we were faced with the disasters
of Not Getting On The Honor Roll and Not
Getting Into A Good College, followed by the SAT’s
(Sweaty Anxious Terror).
is up; pencils down.
Our job now is to discover how far you have failed.
Have a nice summer.”)
So, why not call a deadline something else such
as... a lifeline? Too
this is significant.
Words shape our thoughts.
We need a new word.
As many motivational speakers say these days,
“How do we reframe this?”
Well, let’s look at the idea a little more
closely and see if we can discover a new spirit in it, one
that has been possibly overlooked. Returning to our education model, what if we were told in
school that we were given due dates so we could have the
satisfaction of accomplishing something within a specific
if we were told that this timeframe is beneficial to us?
That, by having a specific day to have a certain
project finished, we are actually giving ourselves the
gift of ending. In
essence, we’re saying we’re giving ourselves
permission to end one thing in order to next begin
something else. (I
don’t know about you, but I’m glad that we
didn’t have to learn the same multiplication tables all
year long. 9
times 9 is 81. Sorry.)
Bringing this concept back to your
situation, Tricia, aren’t you glad that you don’t have
to write this same screenplay that you’re resisting now
the producer or agent or whoever isn’t telling you,
“Oh, just write whatever you want and, when you feel
really good about what you’ve written, just get it to me
whenever and we’ll get that movie made sometime between
now and... when I die.”
that’s why it’s called “deadline.”
It’s a short version of “I need this
accomplished before you and I die.”
I may be onto something here.)
I still say we need another word.
We could call it “renewal date.”
I like that. It’s
the time when you’ve finished the project or some aspect
of it and you move into a new beginning.
“New beginning.” That’s another good one.
(Can’t you just picture a chaotic 40’s
newspaper office, where the cigar-smoking chief editor is
laying down the law to his reporters:
“Okay, you no-account, lazy heads, get this and
get it straight. Anyone
who misses his new beginning – Sorry.
Let me say it tougher than that-- Anyone who misses
his renewal date... you’re fired!”
Okay, so it doesn’t work in your dialogue.
But it might work in your inner dialogue.
They call it “self-talk.”
I always thought self-talk was what those crazies
do when they walk by you, talking to themselves.
Oh, no. That’s
people on cell phones.
I get that mixed up sometimes.)
So now we have some new words (feel
free to make up your own) for the time when something is
due, but that still won’t be enough.
You still need a motivation.
Tricia, are you listening?
You apparently already do have a palpable (Good
consultants use it a lot to appear intelligent.)
reminds me of that joke about when an egotistical actor
whined to the director about not having a motivation to
execute a certain stage direction.
“What’s my motivation?” complained the actor.
The director answered in one word:
Just like yours, Tricia.
Someone has actually “shown you the money.”
There’s your primary motivation.
Maybe it’s the money that has set off some
subconscious resistance to fame and fortune (or just
getting that new car you want), and you can journal and do
therapy about it till the cows come home (and that may be
a while if you live in the city) – I applaud anyone who
studies their inner workings – but, Tricia, to get that
money, you’ll need to be certain to focus much now on
your outer workings, the outer work being you
writing a script. You’re
being paid to do the best to create a screenplay.
If you don’t want that money for writing the
script, I say “don’t write the script.”
(Who needs a new car, anyway?)
But... if you want the money for writing the
script, no matter how you may feel from one point in time
to the next point in time (and that’s a lot of points to
get through so you might as well get used to it.
I hope you get my point... that applies to any
time.) then you must write the script.
just a fact.
And for all you writers who don’t have the good
fortune of having a patron of your art at this time, you,
too, must devise your own motivation, whether it be
money, artistic satisfaction, or just being able to say to
yourself with exalted pride, “I did it.
And I don’t have to live with my mother-in-law,