There are days when all I want to do is lie in bed and stream films until sundown. It’s not necessarily because I feel blue, just unmotivated, or – why not admit it? – just plain lazy. I’m just not feeling inspired. Of course I always have the choice of not writing, but experience has taught me that not writing ultimately feels worse than actually writing, just like I know that if I eat a whole tub of ice cream, I’ll regret it by the time the spoon scrapes the bottom of the carton. On days like those, I pretend writing is like an exercise routine. Exercise has taught me a lot about writing. After all, they have a lot in common.
A few days ago, The New York Times published an article about a guy who claims to have come up with an algorithm that will predict whether or not your script will be a box office hit. Among his pearls of wisdom is the following statement:
“Demons in horror movies can target people or be summoned,” Mr. Bruzzese said in a gravelly voice, by way of example. “If it’s a targeting demon, you are likely to have much higher opening-weekend sales than if it’s summoned. So get rid of that Ouija Board scene.”
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?
No matter how well you write, few of us has such exquisite control over our material that we can be 100% sure of how our stuff reads to an outside party. This is particularly true for new material and comedy. In short, we spend so much time alone, scribbling away, that we may lose perspective on how a piece might impact a reader.
Hence the need for a trusty outsider who will provide useful insights. Sometimes, though, you can have too much of a good thing; too much feedback can be overwhelming and even debilitating. How to go about integrating this pile of comments? And is every single comment necessarily useful and on point? Distinguishing a pertinent comment from one that’s completely off can be a trick in and of itself.
Here are some tips on handling feedback:
Writing is one of those things that, like exercise, we avoid even though we know we’ll feel so much better once it’s over. Why do we hear so much about writer’s block, but hardly ever about dancer’s freeze, or composer’s silence, or any other kind of artistic paralysis? Any ideas? Whatever the reason, we’ve all experienced that reluctance to sit at our desks and put words on paper.
Here are some thoughts on overcoming that resistance:
Continue reading 12 Ways to Make Yourself Write When You’re Not Feeling It