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Screenwriting Help E-Mail (Previous)

Updated every Monday, one selected e-mail will be posted and answered here each week. With many years of experience in the film and television business, I look forward to providing answers to your questions about screenwriting or the entertainment industry in general.  Please send your e-mailed questions to: Script Advisor.  You may also wish to visit our Screenwriting Help E-Mails - The Archives.

This week's question: 

I just don't want to write anymore.  And I'm a writer.  Do you ever have that problem or know what to do about it?

Sarah, Belgium (on vacation)

This week's Answer: 

The Right to Not Write 

Yes, Sarah, I have run into that problem before of not wanting to write.  Personally, here's how I handle it: 


Pretty good, wouldn't you say?  And I enjoyed not writing for those empty cursor moments, traveling through  that blank white space time continuum (where no man has -- well, actually, where many men -- and women -- writers have gone before).  And it felt good to not write.  Try it.  Just simply refuse to write.  And not just screenplays.   I'm talking about novels, short stories, letters, e-mails, "thank you" cards, "you're welcome for the thank you card" cards.  Not a word.  Not a letter.  Make a pact with yourself.  Create a lovely and powerful affirmation:  "I will not write."  Or:  "I don't write anymore."  Or:  "I am not a writer."  Or bring it closer to home:  "I am not a screenwriter and I do not write screenplays."  I like that one.  Let it be your mantra.  Live it, breathe it, drink it, sleep it.  It's a wonderful feeling of liberation to not let anybody push you around any longer and force you to do what you do not want to do.  From now on, your computer is just for solitaire; and your pen and paper is for doodling.  You're free.

But you're not out of the woods yet.  Oh sure, it's exciting this high, this buzz.  But you've still got work to do.  As the hours and days progress, believe me, you're going to feel like slipping back; the temptation to start writing will try to entrap you, to pull you back down into the black, murky waters of creativity.  But don't do it.  These Loreli will sing their song of enchantment and seduction (Wait, they're your Muses.  Never mind; it doesn't matter.), but do not heed them.  They're very cunning.  They plague your mind with.... (prepare yourself) ideas!  Images!!  Feelings!!! They'll try to convince you that you have something worthwhile to say, to express, and (and this is possibly the worst part) that others may want to know about it!!!! That they will want to be entertained by your imaginative creativity!!!!!  I didn't mean to make you scared like I wasn't when watching The Village.  As one of the villagers in the village (where else would a villager live?) says regarding the nasty creatures in the film (I'm not going to say another word), and as it is with your own nightmarish creatures that only have one evil objective in mind:  to get you to write, "Don't let them in!"  I think that's what the villager said.  Or am I thinking about the usher in the theatre lobby talking about the crowds out front?  Anyway, she delivered the line with such a poignant urgency and raspy voice that it was either that or "I see dead people." Or:  "Dead people see me."  You could use those last two lines as an opening inner monologue as you prepare to give a lecture to an auditorium full of accountants.  Not that accountants are bad people.  Hey, maybe there's a screenplay premise in here somewhere:  Title:  "Night of the Living Accountants."  That could really work.  Logline:  A village (that does let them in) is attacked by zombie accountants who have been under too much pressure to hide money by falsifying tax returns.  "Coming to a theatre near you April 15.  There's a penalty for coming late!"

Oh, I'm sorry.  I didn't mean to do that, get you thinking along those lines again.  Forget that I said that.  Forget the whole idea. And, in case while I was going on like that and you happened to come up with any imaginative notion or may come up with one in the future, whatever you do, no matter what your devious mind may tell you, no matter how much you feel like you want to express this notion, explore it and see where it takes you.... whatever you do... Don't write it Down!

Hey... that's another good title for a screenplay. 

Sorry.  I did it again.


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