Inspiration vs. focus

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  • Inspiration vs. focus

    So currently I've been trying to rewrite a script which I think is getting close to "finished". The problem is, I've spent so much time on it that I'm getting anxious to start something new. I'm so familiar with the story, and have sooo many notes, plot decisions to make, and I just keep staring at a white screen. Conversely, lately I've been wanting to get started on a new idea that I'm currently very inspired to write.

    My question is simple: Should I choose focus and perseverance and fight my way through the rewrite? Even though I'm uninspired, perhaps it will return once I start digging into it. I really do still like the story.

    Or do set it aside and come back to it later when I'm inspired, and just concentrate on outlining the new idea? Seize the inspiration/motivation for the new script while I have it.

    Is this a slippery slope? Keeping a project unfinished while you wander off to another, could become a habit. Is it lazy? Or intelligent, and sometimes necessary?

    At the moment time allows me to work on one or the other, so those looking forward to responding that I can do both, no longer need to. And I feel pretty confident I know the answer if you're getting paid to write and have a timeline. But as it relates to an amateur screenwriter, any feedback?

  • #2
    Re: Inspiration vs. focus

    It's different horses for different courses, so only you will know what works for you. Sometimes you need to sit and stare. And stick with a scene or a script. Sometimes it's best to switch.

    But I'd say go and have a dabble in the outline of your other story for a few days. Forget the current script. Leave your subconscious to mull it over on your behalf.

    I wouldn't say it's lazy. Some people say it's good practice. Some people it's even necessary. I'd say it doesn't matter if you're an amateur or pro. It's a creative function. Something you can control and utilise.

    If you can regain some inspiration / positivity by jumping on something else for a short while, do it. Carry it over into your old project when you come back.
    @hairingtons

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    • #3
      Re: Inspiration vs. focus

      A break from the script gives you a chance to come back to it with fresh eyes that you don't have when you're too close to it.

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      • #4
        Re: Inspiration vs. focus

        I usually plan to write or rewrite a different project in between drafts. So it goes First Draft of Project A, then put it in a drawer while I write First Draft of Project B, then Rewrite #1 for Project A, put it away and do Rewrite #1 for Project B, and so on. Sometimes I'll prep one script while I'm writing or rewriting another, just for variety.

        I keep my projects organized on a master document with a loose schedule for when they'll each be finished (assuming no hard deadline), so that way I can't forget about anything. And I have google docs where I can write random notes for different projects as they occur to me. I find being able to do that gets those thoughts out of my head so I can concentrate on the task in front of me.

        Taking breaks from rewrites is important sometimes - any time I try to power through and do all the rewrites back to back without a break, I end up losing any ability to evaluate the script anymore. It doesn't have to be a long break, but I need to get away from it completely for at least a little bit.

        I wouldn't rely just on waiting around for "inspiration," though. That's a bit of a trap. It's one thing to take a break; it's another to only write when your muse decides to visit.

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        • #5
          Re: Inspiration vs. focus

          Great, thanks all for the responses.

          Originally posted by omjs View Post
          I wouldn't rely just on waiting around for "inspiration," though. That's a bit of a trap. It's one thing to take a break; it's another to only write when your muse decides to visit.
          This is very true and the reason for my question. I have had a little time off from my old script already so I think I'm going to give it another shot.

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          • #6
            Re: Inspiration vs. focus

            Well I've been relentlessly writing for a long while now and just yesterday I found myself loathing everything I've written thus far. So, I've made the decision to forget it even exists for the weekend and take my mind off of it. I think it was my brains way of asking for a break.

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            • #7
              Re: Inspiration vs. focus

              My brain required a break after severe burnout. It's 3 years later and the motivation still hasn't fully returned. I'd suggest moving on to a new project and coming back to it. Hopefully you don't share my problem of refusing to move on from the rewrite until it's done.

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              • #8
                Re: Inspiration vs. focus

                Based on what you said about having lots of notes and "plot decisions to make": my suggestion is to consider finishing a complete draft, working with your notes. You may find as you plow through that inspiration comes back and/or that you get so immersed in finishing the script that the doubts fall away. I've been in this place before too many times, and I've found there's power in applying grit and finishing a complete draft.

                If you said you were drawing a complete blank or hated it, then I'd concur with setting it aside. But sounds like you're still perking with this one and you may want to stay with it. In my own experience, the things that seem stuck don't magically figure themselves out, they'll still be there when you come back to the draft. A lot of knots can be worked out in the writing process itself.

                In the meantime why not keep a notebook and jot down anything that comes through on the new idea? It's not either/or.

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                • #9
                  Re: Inspiration vs. focus

                  inspiration vs focus vs purpose

                  Would it not be wise to work on the one that's more likely to attract a buyer?

                  I'd bet that some boffin has formulated an equation to try to calculate that ultimate intangible - maybe something like this:
                  Code:
                       concept x genre
                      ----------------- = sellability
                            budget
                  ... but probably with more variables. (and no made-up words)

                  Anyhow, you likely have a good sense of which of your two concepts/stories is the more marketable.
                  Know this: I'm a lazy amateur, so trust not a word what I write.
                  "The ugly can be beautiful. The pretty, never." ~ Oscar Wilde

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                  • #10
                    Re: Inspiration vs. focus

                    Originally posted by TheConnorNoden View Post
                    My brain required a break after severe burnout. It's 3 years later and the motivation still hasn't fully returned. I'd suggest moving on to a new project and coming back to it. Hopefully you don't share my problem of refusing to move on from the rewrite until it's done.
                    Sorry to hear that. When I get burned out the most it's usually when I've been working on something for awhile that I've gotten tons of conflicting notes on and I'm trying to pick the notes I agree with, coming up with my own notes, and trying to shove it all into my script at once. I'll start down one road but it's not really working, I try another, same thing. Keep backing up, second-guessing, coming up with even more new ideas that further complicate things and it wears on you. Paralysis by analysis is the short explanation. At some point I need to just have fun writing it again and go with my gut, or stop.

                    Originally posted by castilleja32 View Post
                    Based on what you said about having lots of notes and "plot decisions to make": my suggestion is to consider finishing a complete draft, working with your notes. You may find as you plow through that inspiration comes back and/or that you get so immersed in finishing the script that the doubts fall away.
                    Good advice. I'm picking a few substantial notes that I agree with, adjust plot points accordingly and then just write it again accepting that it may not be perfect without more rewrites, but it should be a better story. I'll be one step closer to where I want to be.

                    Originally posted by Crayon View Post
                    Code:
                         concept x genre
                        ----------------- = sellability
                              budget
                    I'm not sure math is the answer I'm looking for. In fact it's stressed me out, my head hurts. All the momentum this week just disappeared thanks to one math equation.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Inspiration vs. focus

                      ^ yes, I tend to write a lot of conflicting notes and then experiment with different ideas too and it's also what burns me out most. It's like my brain becomes overloaded with too many different thoughts and I begin to lose sight of my original intention.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Inspiration vs. focus

                        When I put a project aside for awhile and come back to it, I often find the previously insoluble problems I'd been wrestling with have really simple solutions.
                        Patrick Sweeney

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                        • #13
                          Re: Inspiration vs. focus

                          As Nike says,

                          JUST FINISH.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Inspiration vs. focus

                            It's like trying to color correct, or mix sound, or even cologne or perfume shopping... after a while, even the wrong colors look normal, the bad sounds sounds good, and the cologne smells like nothing, because you are getting used to it.. Your senses are numb.

                            Need to step back, clear your palette... Come back with fresh eyes and see what you can improve.

                            Everyone is different, but I think giving at least a few days between re-writes, hopefully more while not thinking about that script would help most people out.
                            "We're going to be rich!" - 1/2 hr COMEDY written/directed/edited by me, I also act in it.
                            SUBTITLED
                            Episode 1 (Beef pills)
                            Episode 2 (African commercial)
                            Episode 3 (Brenda's rescue)

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                            • #15
                              Re: Inspiration vs. focus

                              Life anecdote: Because I am quite good (no bragging meant) at painting I used to go to paint under the supervision of a seasoned painter in this atelier, where amateurs mixed with people who won many awards - the most genius one of which was a toddler (no kidding). I remember a painter that was highly praised, an incredibly talented amateur, who was once facing a sort of mental quagmire with his painting. His solution was to paint the whole canvas white and start over again. I was shocked and aghast at throwing all this work away. I mean, he didn't just put the painting aside - he literally erased it! I also remember the praise he earned from the artist who directed the atelier. How he congratulated him for his courage. I have never been able to muster that kind of courage but I've always kept it in mind. Maybe that's the painful answer you need to consider -- that no matter all the preparation and notes, and even pages you might have written -- we should also have the courage to trust our instinct, throw it all away and start from scratch if it didn't satisfy us. You need to be really honest about it. Perhaps even pitch the unwritten script, as it has shaped in your head so far, to a trusted good listener - just to check their reactions. I feel for you, and I really knock on wood that you'll find your way. Don't give up!

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