The Quest participants have been hard at work pounding out a first draft of their original screenplays, but Rob has found the time to compose a dispatch for us.
What up, Internet?
It’s been a while. My apologies – I’ve been writing, pacing, drinking coffee, writing more, pacing more, buying groceries/comic books/movie tickets I can’t afford, drinking more coffee, writing even more than that, and having staring contests with a cat that isn’t even mine. I call it Ferris Bueller’s White Knuckled Descent Into What Am I Doing With My Life? I am Jack’s red Ferrari plummeting out of a glass garage.
As it stands, the other Quest selectees and I are somewhere in Act II of our drafts. That’s a good thing. One of the coolest things about this experience has been meeting five other talented writers, getting a behind-the-scenes look at their processes, and finally seeing them pound out some bonafide pages. It’s both exhilarating and intimidating: one part “holy shit, Scott knows how to pick ‘em” and three parts pointing at my Final Draft file shrieking “YOU’VE SHAMED ME AGAIN!”
I’m already in the habit of writing quite a bit, but now that the Quest is in full swing, one of my more embarrassing difficulties has stomped to the foreground of my routine. It’s not dialogue. Not theme. Or structure. Or deciding whether or not to bold my slug lines.
It’s opening the document.
It’s double-clicking the stupid f*cking file where my screenplay resides. It doesn’t matter how many hours I allot myself to write any particular evening, I will, like clockwork, spend a significant chunk of that time dicking around doing anything you could possibly think of that isn’t writing. Could this local news story go from depressing to vaguely interesting? I’ll find out. Coffee table overdue for a wipe-down? On it. Realize I don’t know if Shirley Temple is dead or alive? I got Wikipedia on speed dial, son. It doesn’t matter how much I know I need to write, the wheels of my brain invariably churn towards something that is decidedly not writing.
I’m not a complete idiot – I know this doesn’t happen by accident. As compatriot Emma pointed out earlier this week, this is unmistakable, red-handed M.O. of Doubt. I don’t want to face whatever half-cocked kitchen scratch I produced two nights ago and hid away on my desktop. What if it’s not as acceptable as I remember? What if it’s terrible? What if I don’t know how to fix it?
Unsurprisingly, there’s only one way to answer these questions: the double-click. And that’s what I have to do every day, sometimes forcibly. Forget the news and the coffee table and Shirley Temple. I do this. I have to. I bring up the file. Read. Examine. Add a comma. Tweak a line. Figure bold is okay. Decide “Todd” is a dumb name. And above all, charge ahead.
But it all starts with that double-click. Which I should probably be doing now.
Quest on, people.
Oliver Stone has that line: “Writing equals butt on chair.” In the digital age, perhaps Rob has a more apt revision: “Writing equals double-clicking the damn file to open.”
Sometimes just getting started on any given day is the hardest single aspect of the writing process.
Time for some alliteration: Double-click destroys distractions and doubt. Do it.
About Rob: Boston writer transplanted LA. Lover of Kubrick, Nolan, McDonagh, and the Coens. Okay, good talk. Back to writing. Twitter: @HeroesAreBoring.