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Well, it had become pretty clear to me that, as often, I tried to do too many things at the same time. It happens when I’m enthusiastic about things or topics. Switching to writing about the writing per week instead of individual days is also a result of this, hence that after Day 18, which was in the 5th week since the start on February 1st, we are now at Week 6.
I remember when I was in my early 20’s and hadn’t chosen a topic to study in university yet, I was picking up some separate courses, but instead of doing only 1 or 2, I figured let’s throw in a 3rd in the same year and work a fulltime job at the same time. Needless to say, I didn’t pass them all. Only 1. I used to have the same with reading non-fiction books. I’m pretty good at picking good books on a certain topic, I’m good at doing research, but after reading a chapter or two, in the past I tended to jump to another topic I was interested in and started reading that. But I’ve changed with that, now, I tell myself to finish reading a book, before starting a new one. And guess what? Now I’m thinking ‘wow, this is a great book, why didn’t I fully read it before?’. My bookcase is pretty full as you can imagine, but not filling up as fast any more, I have plenty of great books still to finish reading. But on occasion, I still tend to pick up more things to do at once and then realize I can’t do them all at once, with full attention.
Doing my own DIY film school, which is demanding enough, and jumping into writing a screenplay at the same time is asking for trouble. And because since a few years I have become more focused and determined to finish something before starting something else, I know I want to keep my main focus on the film school, not just because I started that first, but also because it will make me a more equipped filmmaker overall and through that a better screenwriter. And of course, I can just jump in and write now. I know that I know ‘enough’ to write something, like I said before, I have read and ‘undergone’ pretty good screenwriting training and have other storytelling tools and experience under my belt, but I want to be able to be completely focused on it and give it my undivided attention, like I have done before in the past, when writing stage plays. Writing those plays, I mean, I hardly had to think, they just flowed out of my pen, well, keyboard. And yes, I did do research beforehand and talked about the idea with others, what kind of characters they had to be etc. But I don’t experience that same kind of flow now. And to keep on pushing that is just working counterproductive.
I’m also wondering whether I ‘lost’ it. I’m years older now and although processing things in your life and ‘healing’ from certain experiences is a good thing, it might also take the sting out of your butt, the ‘need’ to write it out, process it in the form of a story. I mean, isn’t that where lots of (good) stories come from, from life experiences, good and bad. And it’s usually the bad ones that work best in a film and lots of people can relate to. Just reading a short bio of Alfred Hitchcock for instance, immediately reveals where he got his inspiration from in the way he tells his stories and the elements in them. I’m not saying this was his way of processing and dealing with his troubled childhood and he didn’t ‘heal’ from it in another way or at all, but they are pretty linked. Just something that I’ve been wondering in the past week. But of course it doesn’t make sense, because that would mean that people who’ve never been through trials and tribulations, can’t write good stuff. But haven’t we all experienced bad stuff in our lives at some level? I do believe however that more life experience is a plus, so at least I have more of that now. I do still wonder about it though. But I also know it’s way too soon to make such a conclusion.
So, where does this leave my ‘journey of writing my first screenplay’? Strangely enough, despite the doubts, I am even more enthusiastic about it now. Why? Because I really am getting more and more equipped and ‘drinking in’ more and more ideas from everything I am doing and watching through my DIY film school. And it proves itself every time I am watching a film or a TV series. It almost scares me and I love it at the same time, because I know I am on the right track. How much more I ‘see’ now in a story, I recognize most of the screenwriting elements and principles, executed well and bad also, which you learn from as well, and the clues the director has put in, adding to the story, that I know not many people see, well, untrained people. And that’s becoming more and more every time. And this is also shaping the story of my screenplay. So, no, I’m not literally writing out pages and pages of the story at the moment, but the story is being formed and the pieces of the puzzle being put together almost ‘naturally’ through what I learn and see. The danger of course is without some kind of deadline this can go on and on forever. So, I am giving myself a deadline. Not to have a finished screenplay just yet, but to have accomplished goals before a next ‘performance review’, in 3 months, before summer break.
And now I have to write out those goals, don’t I? I will. Next week. That’s my goal for now. Together with studying another early filmmaker and watching a few of his films and also the making of the amazingly well done and inspiring spin-off from Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, and slow-watching Mr. Robot (TV series I’m learning so much from at the moment), that’s enough.