Maybe You Can’t Write It Today, But Tomorrow…
Three days ago, I had a scene in a script I didn’t mind at all. It wasn’t the shining gem of the issue but I had worked hard on this scene and I enjoyed much of it.
Two days ago, I realised the scene had to go and I was going to drastically rewrite it. I mapped out a plan and the five pages were planned loosely but in a way I thought was clear and would be fun/easy to write.
Last night, I started writing those five pages and found them incredibly hard. I managed to salvage much of the original first page so it cleared smoothly but the other four wouldn’t play ball. I found I could lay out the pages panel by panel but I could not fill them with anything except terrible terrible words. I hacked at these pages like I was taking a machete to the vines in the jungle and eventually went to bed annoyed that I didn’t nail any one of those four pages – and I also went to sleep wondering if maybe I had become a sub-par writer, y’know, maybe I had lost it. Maybe I’d never write a solid page again.
Note: seeing that the Page One still popped because it mostly used words written by a Ryan from weeks ago only seemed to reinforce the fact I had lost it for sure.
Today, while playing with the kids (cars and ramps and water pistols and snacks) I started getting little lines popping. I would periodically look at the woeful script pages I had and let them stew and then I’d get another little snippet. I’d race off and punch in a line, or a phrase. For some panels, I’d have 2-4 possible lines, I was slowly circling what I needed and how I needed it.
Cut to the kids having a nap/rest and I got half an hour to come into the office and so I quickly managed to string some lines together and now one page is nailed and the other three all sit very close. I just need another pass before they’ll feel cohesive and somewhat clever.
My lesson today/this week was; sometimes if you’re not able to write a scene then you won’t ever be able to write that scene…during that writing session. Work on something else, read a book, have a sleep, play with the kids, whatever. Admit defeat, retreat, reroute, and flank that script like it’s your job. Which, if you take this seriously enough, money be damned, it is.
This doesn’t work every time, I’ve broken scenes through persistence, but I also know scenes have broken me through my persistence so you need to allow yourself permission to walk away.
It’s like my knuckle tattoos always say: walk way and live to write another day.