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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 written many scripts, and I want to write another one, but feel so STUCK.  Can you help me?


This week's Answer: 

Stuck in Los Angeles (or Anywhere Else)

I know the feeling, Stuck (interesting name your parents gave you; I must admit it causes the imagination to wander into places where it's best not to go).  As long as you’re not talking about your vehicle being in a snow bank, I’ll be happy to help you “unstick” yourself, Stuck (or is it “unstuck yourself”?).  When I’ve been in the same situation – “Stuck In Los Angeles” (which I hear is the name of the sequel they’re making to “Sleepless in Seattle.  Premise:  A down-and-out screenwriter decides to visit and jump off the Empire State Building and meets another screenwriter who is doing the same thing.),  I have to come to the realization that I am overwhelming myself with future projections that are causing me to procrastinate, which leads me into that lovely state of paralysis.  (There’s another “P” in that equation, but it’s not coming to mind now.  “Pontificate” isn’t it, but that one works, too.  So let me pontificate a little more.)

This may sound a bit odd (or completely whacked, as some factions of our society might indicate), but my advice is to not resist the feeling of being stuck.  It makes your more stuck.  Going back to my reference of your vehicle being stuck in a snow bank (for those who have always lived in Southern California or Hawaii, a snow bank is not a bank where you go to get snow), often, if you step on the accelerator, the stuck wheel just spins itself more deeply into the snow, causing even more of a rut (hint, hint).  The wise “stuckeé” puts a board next to the imprisoned tire, giving it something to roll on, which often extricates it and the vehicle from said rut.  So, if you find yourself in a writing rut, just get yourself a board.  No, that’s not it.  Anyway, I’m sure or hope you get my point.

I have found, especially when I feel like I’m in a snow bank – I mean a “writing rut,” all I need do is take a step (not off a cliff -- or Empire State Building) towards writing the next screenplay.  That step might be just thinking about what I want to write.  Or, if I already have that in mind, maybe just thinking about thinking about what I could be writing.  (That’s a small step.)  Any step towards your intention of writing another screenplay will do.  You could jot down ideas that come to you regarding the screenplay.  You don’t have to start at the beginning.  You can start anywhere in a story.  Go where the gusto sends you.  (Sorry.  Sounds like a beer commercial.)  You could call a friend and tell him about your idea.  (And, if he’s a writer and steals it and makes a million, you can feel proud of yourself that you had such a good one – idea, that is; not friend.  And there’s nothing wrong with suing a good friend.  Studio execs do it all the time.  Not really.  At least, I don’t think so.)  Just take a step, then another one.  Before you know it, you’re moving; the momentum is carrying you.  Yes, my friend, you’re finally writing again.

And, if that doesn’t work, you can always call a tow truck.

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