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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: 

I've got some nice money waiting for me when I finish a script for a producer, but I still find myself dragging my heels.  Do you have any great advice, DcH?

Andrea from Indiana

This week's answer: 


It's nice that the money is willing to wait for you, Andrea.  So, you not only have nice money, but also patient money.  And, I assume, this patient and nice money will be yours when you finish the script, and instead of spending your time and effort in doing just that, instead,  you've been spending your time and effort dragging heels.  I'm curious:  How do you go about dragging heel?  So far, all I can figure out is that, since you said your heels, the heels must belong to you.  So, you've either been dragging the heels of your feet or heels of some shoes you own.  Now, I'm not saying there's anything inherently wrong with dragging heels (although dragging bare heels can't feel all that good),  but I'm not sure how efficacious it is.  (I used "efficacious" instead of "effective" to appear more knowledgeable and so my readers wouldn't think that, when it came to looking up other words for "effective," I wouldn't appear as if I was dragging my heels.)

Human nature can be very strange at times, and often very illogical.  Logic tells you that it makes sense to finish a project and gain the reward.  So what do we often do?  We don't.  Do what is logical.  Instead, we often do everything but what would benefit us the most.  Another way of looking at this problem is the well-known (well, if you don't know it, then it wouldn't be well-known by you) 80 percent/20 percent concept:  It takes 80% of your effort to finish the last 20% of the project.  So, what do we deduce from these facts?  I don't mean to alarm you, but the truth is that, generally...


That can't be, you say.  I like to finish my projects, say you.  We like to THINK we like to finish projects, but there is a psychological element at play here.  An emotional one, actually.  We don't want to finish because there's a part of us that is uncomfortable about no longer having that project to do.  There's a fear of the unknown, so to speak.  We easily become comfortable and can get into a type of rut once we settle into a project -- even if we're not thrilled about the project.  It becomes familiar very soon, and we have a tendency to ATTACH to it.  There's a part of us that knows that, when we finish the screenplay, we will have to DETACH from it.  Let it go.  Then what's next?  As we approach the finish line, we often see or, at least sense, a gaping abyss that is waiting to swallow us up.   And we forget about the money (or patiently waiting agent or patiently waiting producer -- or impatiently waiting) and focus only on the patiently waiting abyss.

Writers know this abyss.  That's why writers, composers, painters, artists of all kinds have more than one project.  Or they have a bunch of projects waiting for them when they finish their current one.



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