This is a fantastic scene from Get Shorty where Laurence Fishburne explains to John Travolta how easy it is to write a movie script. I have a funny feeling that anyone who hasn’t tried to write one, probably has similar thoughts.
After all as as BO CATLETT says: “You have an idea, you write down what you wanna say.” EASY AS THAT!
BO CATLETT: You know what I’m thinkin’? (leans forward) You wanna make the girl older. I don’t like the ending. We could do that, you and me, sit down and write the script over where it needs it.
Chili flips through the script a moment . . .
CHILI: You know how to write one of these?
BO CATLETT: There’s nothin’ to know. You have an idea, you write down what you wanna say. Then you get somebody to add in the commas and shit where they belong, if you aren’t positive yourself. Maybe fix up the spelling where you have some tricky words . . . although I’ve seen scripts where I know words weren’t spelled right and there was hardly any commas in it at all. So I don’t think it’s too important. Anyway, you come to the last page you write in ‘Fade out’ and that’s the end, you’re done.
CHILI: That’s all there is to it, huh?
BO CATLETT: That’s all.
Chili sits forward, stabs out his cigarette, exhales into Bo Catlett’s face . . .
CHILI: Then what do I need you for?
Here are few quotes from well known writers that all pretty much say the same thing. If you want to write… just start writing.
“Its better to write a bad first draft, than to write no first draft at all.“
“You have to be brave to take out that white sheet of paper and put on it words that could be evidence of your stupidity.“
“I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.”
“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”
“The wastebasket is a writer’s best friend.“
Isaac Bashevis Singer
So what are you waiting for… start writing!
Just read a list of 10 points on Sarah Ockler’s site titled:
How to Not Be a Thing: 10 Anti-Insanity Tips for Writers
Point 9 is the one I always try to remember… not always very successfully I might add.
9. Write. Period. Talking about writing, reading blogs about writing, thinking about writing, dreaming about writing… all of this may be important and intellectually stimulating, but it’s not actual writing. To be a person who writes, you have to be—wait for it—a person who writes.
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“The first draft of anything is shit.”
— Ernest Hemingway
It needs to be said that from an amateur’s point of view, that those few words are actually a very important discipline that needs to be learned, so you can actually get on with the job of writing and completing a story. The temptation to revise every line as you go along is there. Don’t do it. You have plenty of time for revision on your 2nd draft.
Even when remembering the rule, you will sometimes (as I still do) use revision as a form of procrastination when getting stuck somewhere in your story. When I reach a new paragraph, and don’t really know where, or how to start, I make a conscious decision to read through, and start to edit the parts that have already been written.
As far as I’m concerned, I’m still working on my story, and I feel like I’m making progress. When actually all I’m doing is buying some time until the magic happens, and a new idea appears, so I can get back to the actual story. The problem is, now I’m stuck doing revisions and concentrating on parts of the story that were already “roughed out” and down on paper. That isn’t moving forward…. its actually going back to where you have already been. You need to stick with where you are, and just let it come to you. Remember it doesn’t have to be “Hemingway” or “Dr Suess”, it just needs to let you progress forward. You can fix it later.
Knowing (and allowing) your first draft to be rubbish will let you get on with your story. If you write, and revise, as you go along you will never finish anything. It sounds simple enough, but trust me, its not an easy thing to do.
I still struggle every day.
Me – On Writing
I don’t know why I do it, ‘cause its harder than it looks.
Just write it down and get it done, that’s what they say in books.
Don’t edit what you’ve written yet, you have to let it flow.
I’ll try procrastination first, the one thing that I know.
Yet again, while working on a piece of short fiction, something completely different, and completely unnecessary pops into my head. Is it an attempt at using writing to procrastinate from writing.
However, is it procrastination, if it is still writing… maybe not the writing that was intended, but words did get written.
Maybe this whole post is just me procrastinating. Welcome to my world.
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