I’m finding that most writers have a hard time moving onto something new when there’s still work to be done on the piece they just completed. Take me, for example. I am so determined to get my first script right, that I can’t move onto anything else (I have tried), and what’s worse, more ideas keep popping up for other stories or new ones, so that I feel like my brain is running in every direction possible without really going anywhere, not with any real progress anyway. I should learn from this, go work on something else, and then maybe the answers I seek would come to me…but I can’t. I am compelled, driven, possessed…Last night at my writer’s group, we discussed this very topic. When you’re so close to a piece, it’s hard to gain any perspective. Sometimes you need little break. I’ve written about this before and it was reiterated to me last night. It’s the “forest through the trees” scenario. It’s hard to leave something unfinished. We tend to feel guilty that we aren’t working on it. Why would we spend all this time without seeing it through to the end?
This particular script has always been my baby (but is quickly becoming the redheaded stepchild – sorry redheads, no offense intended, as I’m sure you’ve noticed my love of ginger boys 😉 ). The one I thought would do good things. And yet every pass I make at it makes me feel further away from its original purpose. This is why it would be a very good idea to separate myself for a little while. There are a few impending deadlines, but getting some distance is probably best for everyone involved, because I’m not sure if the new ideas are any better at this point. *If anyone has any resources to utilize to solve this dilemma, PLEASE share them!
When I talked with another writer, a novelist, last night, about the rewriting process, we agreed that being a novelist is better because of ownership. You work with an editor who helps suggest ways of improving your work, but you are the author of that piece. Your name will be the only one on it. Whereas a screenwriter works alone for months or years honing that script into a viable, sellable work, only to be replaced. It makes me cringe every time I think of it. And this is where the crazy begins…
Okay, I realize I’m rambling. Probably because I’m going crazy. This is all madness. Rewriting madness. I believe it’s a state of mind that happens to all writers driven to finalize their work. And then I heard this –
“The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing. Isolated. Neurotic. Caffeine-addled. Crippled by procrastination and consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing and soul-crushing inadequacy. And that’s on a good day.” — Robert DeNiro
I’m not quite sure how to respond to this except to say that now maybe people will understand what we go through on a regular basis. If you’re also struggling with the “madness” here are a couple of links I shared before about editing. One from The Write Life and the other is a list of essays regarding rewriting from LitReactor so you can decide on the topic that might work best for you.
Here’s to regaining some sanity! Wishing you all the best!