When you consider yourself as a writer, what do you think about?
When you ponder that story you are currently writing, where are your thoughts?
Are you thinking about your story… or do other images drift into your mind?
Does your mind drift from the actual writing of the story to ideas about what writing the story could mean for you?
For a moment, why don’t you give yourself to those other thoughts? Let yourself go. Fantasize your wildest dreams about what you hope to accomplish as a writer. Put your imagination to work and create the most gilded vision of success you can possibly concoct.
Imagine you write a great spec script, perfection on the page.
Imagine you get a manager and an agent, someone who truly believes in your talent.
Imagine your script lands an A-list director and actor, frothing at the bit to make your movie.
Imagine you sell that script for six figures… hell, seven figures.
Imagine you take meetings all over Hollywood with producers and studio execs because you have so much heat.
Imagine you rewrite that script, the studio is elated, and it gets a green light.
Imagine you land an OWA.
Imagine you come up with a pitch that goes for big bucks.
Imagine you being profiled as a hot young talent in Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.
Imagine one of your scripts makes the Black List.
Imagine you relocate to L.A. and buy a home in the Hollywood Hills.
Imagine you buy a Porsche.
Imagine your movie gets produced and it’s a huge hit.
Imagine there’s a buzz whenever you enter a restaurant or nightclub.
Imagine you are a player.
Imagine you are living the life of a professional screenwriter.
Whatever your dream scenario is arising from your success as a screenwriter or TV writer, indulge yourself and use your creativity to generate the most awesome vision possible — with you as the star.
Now here’s what you do when you sit down to write: Set aside your attachments.
That’s what all those images are — attachments. They are visualizations of your desires and aspirations. There is nothing wrong with them. At times they can help motivate you to drag your butt to sit down and write. Hey, whatever works.
But once your butt is on that chair and it’s time to write, that’s not what you need in your mind.
You only need one thing: To get in touch with your story. And all too often, attachments get in the way. When you should be inside your story universe, your mind is outside thinking about this or that scenario.
You can have negative attachments, too. Instead of ‘heavenly’ images of success, your mind can get caught up with all sorts of ‘hellish’ visuals: loneliness, endless frustration, loss of friends and family, rejection, financial insecurity, failure.
Again once your butt is on your chair and you commit to a writing session, you must set aside those attachments as well.
How to do this? Two practices.
First remember the name of this blog: Go into the story. That should be your focus when you write. However you can find a bridge there. For example, summon up a character, talk to them, connect with them, and have them lead you into the story universe. Or get curious about how that scene you’re going to write today will play out.
Go. Into. The. Story.
The second thing: Accept the fact that your attachments will make themselves known. You know what I’m talking about, right? Here you are writing and suddenly you hear the sound of that sports car you’re going to buy when you hit it big and immediately your mind is somewhere in your car racing along Mulholland Drive. Or conversely a garish image of a grotesque Hollywood producer laughing you out of their office darts into your mind.
Don’t judge yourself for your wandering mind.
Don’t fixate on the thoughts.
Acknowledge the attachment…
Then let it go.
You are a human. Attachments are part of who you are. Think of them as value neutral. Nothing more than thoughts in the busy cacophony of your mind.
And let them go.
Let them go.
Then close your eyes…
Take a deep, centering breath…
And go back into your story.
If you immerse yourself in your story…
If you follow your characters so well you hear their voices…
If you believe your story wants to be told…
Everything will take care of itself.
Set aside your attachments.
Go into your story.
And write it well.
Write it well, friend.
Write it well.
[Originally posted June 21, 2011]