Help! I can't write! (Or can I?)

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Kevin Porter, Jul 7, 2004.

  1. Kevin Porter

    Kevin Porter Supporting Actor

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    I want to write. I want to write something good. I want to write something great. I start the ball rolling and I feel real proud of myself and confident about what I'm writing while I'm doing it. It's a great feeling. Then I get up for a drink or something, I come back to the computer screen and read what I typed out less than five minutes ago and say "Well that blows!" I'm in this rut in which I can't be creative. I don't know how to be creative. Everytime I try to write I find myself rather than trying to find my own voice and style trying to emulate someone else's. It's usually always Aaron Sorkin too. I don't know if it's a good thing to be striving to be something better than myself or if it's stupid to be over reaching as such. I want to write something good and I don't know how. I don't know if it's like playing the piano or if it's something some people just have and some people just don't. I want this so bad. I want to make something good. (Moving into eye rolling territory here) I want to move people in a way that I see most entertainment today doesn't. I see something that's relatively lukewarm or meek and say "I could do better than that" but I can't! I don't know how to write in the intangible rhythms I want to. I'm talking mostly dialogue here now. I don't know if it's something that has to be pursued until a true level of greatness is reached or if it's just something you have or you don't. Have any other writers here ever felt like this? I want to make something good. What's my next move?
     
  2. Kyle McKnight

    Kyle McKnight Cinematographer

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    Pull an all-nighter. Once you get going with something you feel is good, don't stop until you must.

    OT - You used "I" in all but four of your sentences. Heh.
     
  3. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    Robert Heinlein's rules for writers:

    1. Write
    2. Finish what you write
    3. Do not rewrite except to editorial order

    The last does not count prior to your whipping the piece into good enough shape to send it to an editor or agent or whoever.

    If you re-read your stuff on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis you'll never get more than a couple of paragraphs into a piece - because you'll constantly be going back and starting over instead of just getting on with it. You need to just plow ahead and not re-read what you've written before (unless you need to remember a plot point) until you get to "the end" or "fade out". Then stick it in a drawer and forget about it for a week or two. Start a new project, play with the dog, learn to play the lute. After two weeks go back, read it over and start making it better. Because at that point you'll have something concrete to work with and you'll have some perspective on your own work. (Sometimes the stuff you think is great when you write it and hate when you read it two hours later looks a lot better after two weeks.)

    "You cannot edit air"

    If you're specifically interested in screen or TV writing check out www.wga.org (the Writer's Guild of America website, home of the Hollywood writer's union) and The Complete Book of Screenwriting by J. Michael Straczynski (Murder She Wrote, Babylon 5, Jeremiah, Spiderman.) Newly available in paperback.

    Regards,

    Joe
     
  4. Mark Shannon

    Mark Shannon Screenwriter

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    Well your post seems to be emulating J.D. Sallinger's style.[​IMG]
     
  5. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

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    Or early Phalaniuk, by the time you get to DIARY: a novel he's just uninspired and boring.

    At any rate:

    Instead of working on the great American novel, try writing some quicker material for awhile. Write a few dozen 2000-word movie, equipment, or DVD reviews and post them here for us to read! You won't get rusty and it forces you to write in a slightly confined context what you could normally take 10,000 pages to type. Some say boundaries are the key to creative writing.

    As a final move, write screenplays for lesbian vampire films. Maybe you'll get a new career out of the deal.[​IMG]
     
  6. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Write.

    Don't edit as you write.
    Don't edit after only writing a few paragraphs.
    Just write.

    If you're serious, I suggest finding someone who can provide editorial feedback. A good editor (a good grammarian, in particular) will help you a great deal. But don't go to an editor without something substantially complete. That is, write first, edit later. Especially since you're not on a schedule. On-the-fly editing is handy when doing hasty reports for work. And even then it's good to pound out major chunks before getting bogged down in editing.

    Good luck!
     

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