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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 want to write another screenplay, but I feel stuck.  Do you have any suggestions for getting going:

Max L. from New Mexico

This week's Answer: 

"Unsticking" Yourself

Dear Max, "stuck" is not fun.  Not to mention "not getting going."  Both of which are  runners-up to "I've fallen and I can't get up."  None of these are pretty pictures.  I've been there before, Max.  Stuck, that is.  I'll tell you what I've found when I'm in that state of "stuckness."  Well, it's like quicksand, which I always liked when it appeared in television shows and movies.  I loved it when somebody got stuck in quicksand.  I don't know why and my therapist would probably be quite concerned if I told him.  Which I won't.  I believe secrets were meant to be kept from therapists, doctors, and, of course, agents.  Back to quicksand.  Now there's stuckness.  And going-down-fastness.  (I don't believe my Spellcheck didn't alert me to the fact that "going-down-fastness" is incorrect and unacceptable.  But it did notify me that "Spellcheck" is wrong.  Go figure.)

What I'm trying to get at here, Max, is that, even though you may be stuck, at least you're not part of the second equation of quicksand, which is "sinking."  Now if you had written to me to tell me that you were sinking, well, that would be another matter entirely.  You see, it's important to decide if the glass is half empty or half full.  Personally, my view is that there's just some churning and unstable liquid being contained by glass, keeping it from exploding all over the place, causing death and destruction in its wake.  But that's just my version.  Okay, back to "stuck."

I don't mean to go to Zen on you here, Max, but if you look closely at your own question (Grasshopper -- or Little Stuck), you'll see that you may have already answered it.  You wrote that you "feel" stuck, not that you are stuck.  Do you see the difference?  Hmmmmm?  or... Ahhhhhh (accompanied by a redundantly bobbing head -- which really can get on your nerves if you watch a lot of Kung Fu Theatre Movie Marathons.  Not that I do.)  You only feel stuck.  That's how you wrote it.  Feeling and being are two completely different entities.  It may very well be that you're not stuck at all; you merely feel like you are.  (Okay, I'll stop underlining the word, "feel.")

Going with the assumption that that may be the case, that you are only feeling stuck (sorry), what's the best thing to do?  Here's a procedure that I've used that's helped me.  It goes like this:

Method for Unsticking Yourself:

1.  I'm feeling stuck

2.  I realize it's just a feeling.

3.  I realize that feelings don't mean it's real.

4.  I ask myself where this feeling is coming from.

5.  I realize that this feeling is coming from only a part of me.

6.  I acknowledge the feeling and I...



7.  And somehow -- call it a miracle (or just me getting bored with this process and wanting to get on with my screenwriting because I hate these Polly Anna Feel Good exercises with a passion...)

8.  I don't feel stuck anymore.

9.  And I'm free to write another mediocre screenplay.

Now unstick yourself and get out there.  Enjoy that creative writing process once again.

And watch out for quicksand.



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