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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 just recently finished a screenplay, but there haven't been any takers.  A producer is waiting to see my next one -- and I haven't even begun it yet!  I think I'm burnt out.  How do I get going again and start working on my next script? To be truthful, I think I'm afraid I don't have another good script in me.

Ann Harrington from Buffalo


This week's Answer: 

"Script Surgery"

Ann, thank you for your honesty.  Let me first say that you mentioned that there haven't been any takers.  You don't want anybody taking your script.  They need to buy it after you are willing to give it to them.  So no more talk about takers, agreed?  Good.  So the producer is waiting?  Let him wait.  Producers do that very well:  Wait.  That's why they're producers.  (A question to ponder:  Do waiters actually wait?)  The more he or she waits (the producer, that is) the more he or she will be chomping at the bit to see your work.  How's that famous saying go?

Time makes producers think scripts are even better than they are.

I think that's how it goes.  Or... "Time heals all unrepaired watches."  Maybe that's it.

Of course, if you do want to sell the screenplay to the waiting producer, you're going to have to at least write it.  I know that can be a difficult life pill to swallow, but it's how the game is played.  At least get some nice white paper that you plan on printing your script on.  Or, if you only work and send scripts electronically, do a sacred ritual wherein you dedicate a section of your hard drive where your screenplay will go.  It's sort of like buying a burial plot for yourself.  Nicks that; bad analogy.

There's nothing wrong with being burnt out.  Candles do it all the time.  And campfires.  And writers.  The best thing to do as a writer, a creative force in this here universe, is to try to avoid getting burnt out.  But, once you have fallen prey to B.O. (burn out.  Not "body odor."  Although, when you burn out, you may find yourself bathing or showering less and not using proper deodorant and, thus, could be considered in the second category, also.), the worse thing to do is start to burn out over being burnt out.  That's a double burn-out (D.B.O.) and, trust me, you don't want to go there.  And don't worry about thinking you don't have another script in you.  If you did,  you'd need screenplay surgery.  And that's not a pretty thing, either.  (One screenwriter I knew had over fifty scripts in him.  The operation took four and a half hours.  And the doctor accidentally left one inside him.  A comedy, it was.  Left it in his stomach.  Poor writer.  Now he can't eat without laughing.  Sad case.  So thank your stars that you don't have a script in you.  Don't push yourself. Write when it feels right (clever, huh?).  Take it easy.  Be gentle with yourself.

And use plenty of deodorant.

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