TGIM – Back Against the Wall

Here’s what I like to do:
Sleep. I mean procrastinate. Hell, if I can do both together, that’s just gravy.
I don’t do much for myself. Make someone (a person or a company) dependent upon me and I’ll hit deadlines, come through in the clutch, and do whatever is needed. But me, working on a screenplay just to get one done, tell the story I want to tell, and not having anyone waiting on it… I procrastinate. I let other things get in the way. I even take on other work (paying or not) to avoid doing it.
All because of Parkinson’s Law. And as often as it’s failed me, it’s proven true countless more times. Look at pretty much every paper or school project I’ve ever written, or the first few comics I did where artists were in need ASAP and I had to get something done yesterday. I got it done.
But, as my friend Sean Chen pointed out at SDCC, I’ve been blowing a lot of my self-imposed deadlines. He asked me why and I didn’t have a good answer. Still don’t, to be perfectly honest. I think fear of doing something bad (even though I’ve already dealt with this) is still holding me back. But I also keep in my mind something Brian Buccellato told me. He said his writing career really turned a corner when he finished his first screenplay. Not because it was amazing, but because it was done. There was no longer any reason to think that he couldn’t do it, because the proof was sitting right in front of him.
So I’m eliminating excuses. I’m eliminating goals. I’m just going to work, with no other options. I’ve got my editing stuff on a good track so that it won’t get in the way of my scheduled writing, and the writing plan is reasonable if intensive (10 pages a day, thanks to Tony Gilroy‘s method via Bryan Hill). I’ve already blown every deadline I’ve set for myself countless times. I’ve tried shame (shaving my beard before SDCC) and grooming tweaks (not getting another haircut until I finish) and nothing has really led to much progress.
So I’m just going to sit my ass in this chair and write. No bullshit, no excuses. I’ve realized, thanks in no small part to my roommate, that finishing this screenplay is more important than any job I might take, project that might get approved, etc. It’s holding me back from everything I want to do. The only choice is to finish it if I want any semblance of a career, or it’ll forever be a stumbling block that keeps tripping me up.
Not many guys let their first screenplay put their career on the line. But I’m already there, in a fucked up in the head sort of way. So my back is against the wall, whether I want it to be or not. And sometimes that’s not a bad position to be in. Like now…
Does this even count as a TGIM. I say yes, and notice the period indicating a rhetorical question. Grammar saves the day again!
In other news, been finalizing my “Board,” for those familiar with Save the Cat. I hate the process. I don’t mind outlining, but taking this thing the whole way has me bullshitting through the +/- emotional change of some scenes, ditto for the conflict in each. It feels really inorganic to me, and more like busy work (which he swears is not the point). I have enough faith in my sensibilities and storytelling that I like to think I can borrow and dip my toes into the method without actually going through it like an automaton. I’m mingling my stuff with his, and trying to find harmony. If it helps me get this thing written (and help it shall, since there’s no other choice), I’ll go and do The Board properly next time.

After all, “If what works for you isn’t working, try something else.” Say, there’s a screenplay idea in there (not the next one, but the third one)…

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