After several years of writing scripts, I’ve decided to go back to writing fiction and, let me tell you, I’m finding that my prose muscles are really out of shape. (Terrible metaphor, I know, but it feels exactly like I’m going on a run after several years of being a couch potato.) That spare script style has made it hard for me to set a scene in full sensory detail. But what’s made it most difficult is the fact that I’m so easily distracted nowadays: by email, by friends, by a constant stream of, well, information. And when I do sit down to write, I find my attention wandering. My usual tactic when this happens is to take out the airport card on my laptop and lock my phone away. When things are really bad, I just write longhand. Then I read this article about typewriters and how they aid attentiveness.
New technologies mean that filmmakers now may have a hand in production and distribution. You can now write, produce, edit, and find a distributor for your own film, without having to resort to third parties. I don’t need to tell you how empowering this is, but in acting as your own mini-production company, there are pitfalls. The most relevant one is quality control.
In the past few years, quite a few film critics and commentators have written about the demise of the romantic comedy. The latest volley is Christopher Orr’s article in The Atlantic, bemoaning the quality of the genre. His main argument is that it’s played out because none of the traditional obstacles to romance exist any longer: class conflict, parental disapproval, money problems, etc. Since I’ve been thinking about this topic for many years now, I was all set to write a post about the only obstacle that’s left in modern love that DOES keep people apart: internal conflict. But Slate’s Alyssa Rosenberg beat me to it, penning a great post about how modern romance has changed, but modern romcoms haven’t. I’m not going to rehash her insights, so I’ll come at the same idea from a different angle: How can screenwriters improve the modern crop of romcoms?
Recently, I began streaming Friday Night Lights on Netflix. I had heard such buzz about this show while it was on, but somehow never got around to actually watching. After all, it was about football in a small Texas town, two things that are completely foreign to me. I was never exposed to the game and always found it too complicated when people tried to explain it. (Also, I think I must suffer from some type of spatial dyslexia because whenever I think I’ve witnessed a great play, it turns out that I’m looking at the wrong part of the field.)
Anyway, I finally got around to watching it and I’m completely hooked. I’m talking addicted as in staying up till 2 a.m. — and I take my sleep seriously. If anything, I look forward to learning more about Coach Taylor, his wife, and, of course, Riggins, Street and Lyla. How did such an improbable show reel me in?
Warning: Spoilers after the cut!
Writers have to deal with a lot of rejection. Even those of us with tough hides experience moments of doubt. The worst is when you get a triple whammy: your article was killed; you got a surprise bill; and your dude told you he wants to see other people. Times like these try our resolve, but that’s life, right? Oh, if only it were so easy to go Zen. When life seems to have given me a special seat at my own private shit show, some of the strategies below help me cope. Basically, they all boil down to one thing: treating yourself as you would a beloved 7 year old kid who’s had a tough day.