A Writer’s Life

EditingVictory!  Last night I had a small breakthrough on the rewrite, and I am starting to fall in love again.  I know I’m not alone in feeling a little love loss when a story you’ve poured yourself into stops loving you back; the hours invested, the sleep lost, the tears, the borderline mental breakdown…I’ve complained about this one long enough, and I don’t like the feeling that a story and characters that once brought me such pleasure could turn out to be the bane of my current writing existence, especially when people, whose opinion I trust, tell me how much they like the story.  It makes me wonder if I’m thinking too much, trying too hard, or am afraid?

I know for a fact that I think too much.  I over-think everything.  But as writers, we all want our stories to be the best they can be.  So trying to think of every possible story thread or outcome is just part of the trade.  Wondering about every facet of the story is just what we do.  And I know I have to get out of my head, more often than I do.

As for trying too hard in relation to my writing, I don’t think such a thing exists.  In regards to becoming a writer, is there any other way?  I’m a new writer, and a woman, trying to make it in Hollywood, so what else am I going to do?  The Writers Guild recently released this article about the state of women in the industry, and it’s a little bleak.  In an already tough business, the uphill battle just got a little rockier it seems.  I need my stories to be compelling.  I want them to be recognized for what they are.  And I want the fact that I’m a woman to be irrelevant when looking at my scripts, although it will be clearly evident because I’m a bit of a feminist and I write for women primarily, but you know what I mean.  I am trying too hard because I want to succeed.

Then there’s the possibility of fear.  Fear is an enormous detriment to a writer.  If I’m honest, which I will be here, I don’t feel fear in regards to my writing.  I relish the blank page.  It’s an opportunity to create new worlds and escape into adventure.  I don’t fear endings.  Some times, after spending so long with certain characters, it’s hard to say goodbye, but I like the idea of moving forward and creating a body of work.  But there is one thing, the fear of success.  The unknown.  We get comfortable in the daily struggle, the routines we’ve created, and lives we’ve built around this dream.  This may seem strange, but all the years building up to the next stage in the journey makes me nervous at times.  Am I prepared?  I think, not just as writers, but as people, when we dream about something for so long, the idea of actually getting what we want can cause fear.

So, back to the breakthrough.  I decided to take a different approach to my writing and use some of the tools I’ve discovered along the way.  Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat (this is the link to the website and information, but there is a book too) is a great resource for screenwriters, but I think all writers could use some of the techniques to help their story.  Blake designed a checklist, all the components needed in a screenplay.  As my rewrite is an entire perspective shift, I’m changing protagonists, I needed to get into the head of the new lead character.  This is someone I know well, but until I sat down and started writing out her journey, all that time spent in my head was time wasted.  I can think on it all I want, that over-thinking thing I do, but until I sat down and physically worked out the details, I was never going to move forward.

Maybe there was a little fear, actually fear might be the wrong word, perhaps anxiety is better to refer to my feelings about this script and its necessary rewrite.  The love had slowly melted away under the constant scrutiny and struggle to get the third act right.  This is a story I have been working on for a long time, and when I had that light bulb moment to change the perspective, it was almost like I was writing a new story and I was afraid of what it might do to the original idea.  Maybe this is why I’ve been reluctant and dragging my feet to actually attempt the rewrite.  But like I said above, “fear is a detriment”, and I can’t let that hold me back from moving forward.  So, as I sat in my writer’s group last night working out the details, I had a glimmer of the love that drew me to write this story in the first place.  I made a mental decision to look at this new rewrite with a positive attitude, and I think that worked.  As I discussed the idea with a fellow writer later, I felt better and more hopeful with the idea.

So I throw this out to you my fellow writers…what obstacles do you have in your writer’s life?  How do you overcome them?  Or are they what drive you to succeed?

I wish you all the best in your endeavors!

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