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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 (often with a humorous eye) 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: 

DcH, I've worked on my latest script so much that I can barely see it, and, when I do, I no longer think it's any good at all.  Do you have any advice?


This week's Answer: 

"Unburning Out"

Yes, Amy, I do have some advice.  You might want to get an eye exam and find out if you need glasses, and then see if you can see your script.  If you can't, then I recommend a second eye doctor.  See?

Actually, I believe you're referring to a phenomenon that many screenwriters, including myself, experience.  There seems to be a type of threshold one can reach after one has been working on a screenplay assiduously and continuously for a long period of time (and that threshold is the one at your front door that you cross over after working on a screenplay for hours and go running into the street, yelling "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to write anymore!")  

The words that you've painstakingly strung together like those icicle lights that hang from people's houses all year long suddenly don't seem to make sense; they stop registering in that part of your brain where the little screenwriters live and work overtime.  Some screenwriters (not the little ones) call this "burnout."  I think a better way of looking at is as a need for fresh eyes (which I hear you can buy at any local farmer's market).  Sometimes the mind needs to have its palate cleansed. (Please excuse the mixed body parts -- unless you happen to be writing a horror.)   Amy, and all you readers who relate to Amy's predicament, my guess is that you haven't taken enough breaks between your writing sessions and have overloaded your "screenwriting senses."  When that happens, the tendency is to, not only see it unclearly, but to also see it through hypercritical eyes.  The fact is that anything you look at too long is going to lose its initial attraction and compelling nature to you.  (Case in point:  You in the mirror.)  So what's the answer?  Simple:  Write as long as you want.  Just be sure to take plenty of breaks.

And go string up some icicle lights.

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