We all get stuck sometimes.
A blog about writing. A blog about mental health (sort of).
If there was a race, the 100m, in which I was competing then I’d be disappointed if I didn’t run it in under 13 seconds. The world record is 9.58 seconds. I haven’t ran a competitive sprint race for 20 years, yet I’d still want to get sub 13 seconds (FYI, my PB was 12.1 seconds back in the day).
If I’m cooking, I can’t just throw some stuff together, it’s got to be Michelin standard.
If I’m painting a wall, it’s got to be immaculate else it’s just shite in my eyes.
When I write anything all I can see are the mistakes or the ways in which it could be improved. I can barely finish a single line without re-writing it. It’s the same when I’m at work; everything has to be immaculate otherwise (in my head) it’s a mess.
This makes finishing things difficult, because more often than not I’ve set ludicrous targets/standards in my head. My perception of what is ‘good enough’ is probably three-times higher than that of the ‘normal’ person. If I can’t get it absolutely perfect then I start to wonder exactly what the point was of even starting.
Imagine having that in your head, all day, every day. That’s what it is like for me. I don’t need criticism from anyone else; trust me, I’ve got self-criticism down to a fine art. It also makes praise somewhat difficult to take because I can never see beyond the faults. Honestly, I can’t remember a single occasion where I’ve said “oh fuck it, that’ll be good enough” and genuinely meant it. I even go back and edit these blog posts after they’ve gone live if I spot a mistake…
Why am I on about this?
Well, a couple of weeks ago at my writing group I had my first experience of professional actors reading my script. 14 pages of sheer, personal torture. It was legitimately terrifying with just a small amount of excitement. If I hadn’t paid for these classes then I honestly think I would have skipped it instead.
That being said, I didn’t skip it. I forced myself there and when it came to my turn to have the script read out by this group of six wonderful people (who had voluntarily given up their own time, free of charge) I bit the bullet and produced my script. A script that I’d sneakily printed out at work too; all 10 copies of 14 pages.
I had listened to each of them reading the other scripts, slowly making subtle notes to myself about who I thought would be best suited to each of my characters. Again, I couldn’t just “pick any of them” like most people probably would have done. No, I had basically assessed them to make sure I was going to get the ‘best’ experience – even though realistically I wanted to bolt for the door at the earliest opportunity…
How did it go?
That’s the most difficult part; it went well. Really well. I made total strangers laugh, even at parts I didn’t think were “that” funny. That chuckled when I planned they would. They were very complimentary about the world created on the page as well as Ged, one of the main characters. There were even lines underlined on it when it was passed back, with a note on one saying “lovely image”.
This is very hard to take, even though it’s incredibly nice to hear, because all I see are lines that could be better or description that could be more concise or use more evocative imagery. It’s only trying to be a spec script too – an example of how I am able to work in a script format. I’m not actually writing my own TV show (yet…).
The praise, as heart-warming as it was, actually set me back a bit. I’ve had writers block on that script since the session. This week (we’ve had a week off) we started back and I had absolutely bugger all to take with me. So instead I just opened up about how hard I’d found it to get going again since the read-through and that I just didn’t know how to proceed, how to finish the script. The group were brilliant, their response was just what I needed.
“Get back to basics” – “Do some step outlines” – “Write the end, work back” – “Fuck it, we all get stuck sometimes”
Finally I was able to laugh about it again and feel inspired to get back into it. By the end of the group I’d actually got a whole new scene in my head and managed to get back to my A, B and C story-arcs that I need to introduce. I worked out how to show my antagonists intentions and ,most importantly, how I think I can write the second half of the episode.
No doubt I’ll be faced with this sort of thing again at some point in the future. It’ll be good to draw back on this when it happens again and, hopefully, say “fuck it, we all get stuck sometimes”.
Thanks for reading x
My Life, Less Ordinary
** This is where I usually post a weekly update for myself. I won’t be doing this for a bit, whilst I try to get my spec script finished. That’s not going to stop me posting my list of uplifting songs for the week though because, well, I mean it’s just good to post about music too **
This weeks’ uplifting songs.
- Philip Oakey & Giorgio Moroder – Together in Electric Dreams
- Audioslave – Gasoline
- U2 – Stay (Faraway, So Close!)
- Said The Whale – On The Ropes
- Slash ft. Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators – The Call of the Wild