Great column, Steve. And a good kick in the ass for me.
I try to take onboard the advice from these columns each week, and I feel there are a lot of things I've learned. But the big thing I just can't get on top of - my repeated attempts at it have fallen apart before long - is keeping a schedule, consistently writing stuff every day. This issue with motivation, or lack thereof, is my critical weakness as a writer.
I think part of the problem is I overthink things. It's very hard for me to open up a Word document and just start writing out the ideas that pop into my head. An idea pops up, and I have to sit and think about it, I wonder where I could go with the idea, I immediately try and fill it out into something substantial. And if the idea doesn't hold up to that, I lose confidence in it and it tends to fall apart before I so much as type a word. And even with the ideas that come to something, I often find writing comes slowly, as I spend ages agonising over the right word placement, character names, things like that. In a pitch I wrote for Steve, I literally spent a whole day, from 10am to after midnight, trying to come up with a catchy opening line, having written everything else pretty quickly earlier that morning. And Steve STILL hated the crappy thing I eventually slapped on top of it!
The latest script I submitted to The Proving Grounds (Steve will be editing it at the end of October) was a deliberate exercise on my part to try and overcome this overthinking habit. I got a weird, random idea for a story one night while walking the dog, and the more I thought about it, the more those doubts of "Nah, this is silly, I can't build a story from this" came creeping into my mind. But as soon as I got home, I started writing. No notes page planning out plot and characters and structure like I usually do with stories - I didn't want the idea to stagnate. I immediately started writing the script, with some vague beats in mind but mostly making it up as I went along. And over a few days of frenzied writing, I hammered the whole 22-page script out. The end product was nothing spectacular, but I am nevertheless proud of it because it is an example of me just thinking of something and writing it, rather than dwelling on it and procrastinating.
I don't want to be lazy and unmotivated. As a writer, I know that's what I am all too often. To try and remedy that, I'm going to at least make an attempt at Steve's homework challenge next week, counting Monday's Comic Book Club as the Tuesday "B&N column". Will I be successful? Probably not, odds are I'll fail spectacularly and not make it past the 6-page scripts stage. But I'll keep you all informed on how I do!
Thanks for another great Bolts & Nuts, Steve.