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Sunday, November 4, 2007

P-r-o-c-r-a-s-t-i-n-a-t-i-o-n

Lucky, lucky Wavers, today we have yet another guest blog. Well, not really guest, per se - today's blog is written by one of my associates, the inimitable Dave Sparling, my charming, intellectually gifted and erudite friend and colleague without whom the Wave-inatrix's grasp on sanity would be seriously challenged. What's that? You over on the left? Third row back? I heard that snicker. No cupcake for you! FINE, we'll go with "more challenged than it is." Happy?

Ahem. Where were we? To learn more about Dave, check out his bio on The Script Department. And for now, enjoy his musings on our favorite topic we love to hate: procrastination.

***

Hello, Wavers! Over the next couple of weeks I plan a short series of Rouge Wave posts around the topic of concept. One analogously invoking real estate, another Evian water. And this one kicks off the series.

But what does concept have to do with procrastination, you ask? Well, frankly, a lot. Those of us who are writers (as opposed to those of us who write), are characterized by the constant need to express ourselves via the written word. It's the creative undertaking that gives us the most pleasure. Yet oftentimes it can be downright difficult to muster up the enthusiasm to boot the laptop and dig in for an hours-long writing session. The excuses for procrastination are myriad. Oh, excellent: the series finale of "The Sopranos" is on again in a few minutes. Sure I've seen it four times already, but with one more viewing I think I'll finally be absolutely, positively certain that Tony does get rubbed out in the end. Or--cool, the new issue of Creative Screenwriting arrived today, featuring an interview with James L. Brooks, my favorite writer, to boot! Well, it's not actually writing but it's writing-related, so... And so on and so forth.

So is it that things just distract us, preventing us from making incremental progress toward our goals (both project- and career related)? Without a doubt there are plenty of distractions in our lives these days. But in my studied opinion, having observed my own process and the processes of countless writers over the years, one of the chief sources of procrastination comes from within. It's uncertainty. While a high percentage of writers have doubts about their own abilities either to sustain success or to realize it in the first place, and while that certainly can factor into procrastination, the uncertainty I'm more specifically alluding to here is related to whatever it is we happen to be working on at any given time.

Here's the catch: for a lot of us, project-related questions like...

o am I truly wringing all of the potential out of this story?
o is my protagonist's trajectory through the story expressive of a very specific theme?
o am I certain I'm approaching specific aspects of my project, be they character- or plot related, in uniquely entertaining and appealing ways?

...can actually dog us more on subconscious- or unconscious levels. They're often the unknown unknowns, in other words. If we're aware of them, then they're known, and therefore conscious. Certainly, the known unknowns also play a role in procrastination.

So what to do? Well, it's simple: writer, know thy concept. Be--or get--crystal clear on the composition of your project's narrative building blocks. Ideally before you fire up Final Draft and start working at the most-detailed level of a script's development: execution. That way, when you are in draft mode, you're focused much, much less on determining the actual content, and more on choosing the specific words to express that content on the page. An approach extremely helpful in reducing those procrastination-inducing uncertainties.

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2 comments:

IM Anonymous said...

To answer your question [from your opening paragraph, yeah, I'm happy. don't I look happy? Of course I do.

Julie Gray said...

You do know, don't you, IM, that when your happy day for a cupcake finally arrives on tiny pig feet, it will most probably be smooshed in your face, right? *mwah* Love ya, mean it :) xo