It Never Gets Easier
Here is the good news and the bad news about being a writer– “It never gets any easier.” Every writer from an Academy Award winner to a complete beginner faces the same challenges, obstacles and terrors.
No matter how much you’ve written or how long you’ve been writing or how famous you are that blank page still is heart-stopping. The blank page humbles everyone and is a perfectly level playing field. It affords a special advantage to no one.
Here are a couple of quotes from an article in the Hollywood Reporter about writer Aaron Sorkin.
Despite the accolades earned since his play A Few Good Men was brought to the big screen in 1992, Sorkin admits: “Writing never comes easy. The difference between Page 2 and Page Nothing is the difference between life and death.”
The blank page is nothingness. The first and second pages are the beginning of life– the life of the characters and the life of the story. So where do you start? You start where ever you can get a foothold.
Sorkin says: “I’ll take anything that gets me started,” he says. “Sometimes it’s finding a particular moment, remembering that you want to begin your story as close to the end as possible. If there’s a structure that seems pretty cool, I think about that.”
I believe the key is giving yourself complete freedom to explore and writing with no self-judgement or self-criticism. Never go back, read what you’ve written or start editing until you’ve finished the first draft.
The number one reason scripts, novels or plays remain unfinished is the writer became paralyzed. The writer stopped writing after being overcome by self-doubt, second-guessing and the vicious voice of that inner critic inside every writer’s head.
Let all that go and just power toward the end of the first draft. The greatest paradox about writing is: You don’t know what you are writing until after you’ve written it. Let the story flow. Let the characters speak their mind.
Here’s is how Sorkin describes his own launching pad to becoming a writer:
Shortly after earning a bachelor’s degree in theater from Syracuse in 1983, Sorkin, an aspiring actor, was crashing in an ex-girlfriend’s postage-stamp-sized apartment and working multiple part-time jobs — including handing out leaflets dressed as a moose. With all of his friends away, a broken TV and not a dime to go out, he was stuck.
“It was one of those Friday nights where it feels like everybody’s been invited to a party and you haven’t,” Sorkin says.
Instead, he turned to the typewriter a journalist friend had entrusted him with, inserted a piece of paper and began pecking out a play — about a struggling actor working with a touring children’s theater — that mirrored his life.
“That was the very first time I wrote for pleasure, for any reason other than a chore,” he says.
The session lasted till dawn and put Sorkin on a path to becoming one of Hollywood’s most esteemed writers.
What if you you don’t know how to turn of your inner critic? What if you can’t write in marathon sessions that last until dawn? What if you don’t know how to get yourself moving on a project that has stalled? What if you’re stuck or stymied or don’t know how to start or what to do next? The One Hour Screenwriter eCourse can help.