This week's Answer:
I know what you mean, Butch, about
finding it hard to write in the heat. (But I wish I
hadn't been reading your e-mail when I was eating
breakfast, being that I was eating my favorite breakfast,
which is mush.) And then, with a producer waiting
for a script when your melted brain can't seem to produce
for that producer... That's a tough one. How to
proceed...? Well, let's see...
Could you write at night when it
cools down (if it cools down where you are at
night)? Or how about waking up very, very early in
the morning when it's cooler (if it is)? How about
writing in a swimming pool on a waterproof laptop?
On second thought, better not. It would ruin your
laptop. Or how about not sleeping at all until you
become sleep-deprived and dizzy and silly and
disoriented? (Which would put you in a perfect state
to write for television sitcoms.)
Or, then again, maybe I'm heading off
in the wrong direction and the way to go is to not resist
what is happening to you at all. Instead, make
lemons out of lemonade (or something like that). Let
it be as hot as it wants; let it melt your
brain. Have you ever tried writing a screenplay with
a melted brain? Why not try it? You might find
you come up with a fantastic script. I think the
writer of "Volcano" wrote it with a melted
brain. And let's not forget the classic horror, MUSH!
Need I say more? So you're in good company.
Maybe you could start a new
trend: screenwriters writing in extreme environments
(or "environs" as story analysts like to write
to appear educated and well-read -- although all they do
is pull down the menu of "Tools," go to
"Thesaurus" and pick a different word).
For a screenplay about the winter and ice, the
screenwriter could go to the North Pole. For one
about a jungle, he could go to Africa. For a script
about outer space, she could break into Cape Kennedy and
stow away on a spaceship headed for "space... the
final frontier." Just think of the
It sounds like you've told a producer
that you'll have a script for him or her. I've found
that, if you want to climb in this business (and I'm not
talking about mountain climbing -- although sometimes the
business can often feel like an impossible mountain to
climb), it's best to keep your word and honor your
agreements. So, let's assume the producer is
expecting your script in a month. The first thing to
do is to DECIDE that you will honor your commitment
and will get a script to the producer by that
time. Or you can decide to NOT honor your
commitment. The most important thing is that you
move forward and CHOOSE. It's much worse to not
decide and run from the producer -- which is ultimately
running from yourself (and if you've ever tried to run
from yourself, it's very difficult. The expense of
having to always have two pairs of track shoes all the
time...) So, let's say you've decided to honor
your word and commitment and you have chosen to write the
script. Good. Now here's all you have to do.
To Write A Screenplay Even When Your Brain Is Melted
Sit down (unless you like to write
standing up or doing yoga or running from yourself). (And forget
the pool idea.)
At your computer or typewriter or your paper.
Let your imagination run wild; allow your creativity to flow.
(It may flow like molten lava since your brain in melted.
But don't be alarmed.)
Now record all that molten creativity.
And never forget: A melted brain can come up with something very
And, not to be condescending in any
way, but having a producer waiting to see your work doesn't sound to
me like such a bad thing. I don't mean to sound like a critical
parent like my parents did when they were being critical, but I
remember so clearly as though it were yesterday (were my parents here
yesterday?) when my parents would turn to me when I was a little boy,
sitting with them at the dinner table, and they would say...
finish your screenplay, young man. There are thousands of
screenwriters in China who are not as lucky as you and don't
have producers waiting for their scripts."