Friday, 22 May 2009

Greener Grass

Why is it that the project you are NOT working on is the one you most want to get stuck into?

A few weeks ago I was finishing up an outline for a TV two parter. I was passionate about the story, had been thinking about it for a long time, and was happy to get it done. But all the time I was itching to finish it to get to my next project which will be a TV series pilot. And now, having got there and been working on that for a while, and still really believing in the concept etc, I find myself eager to move on to what I think will be my next project, another TV pilot idea.

What's all that about?

I know a lot of writers work on more than one project at a time, and fair play to them. But if I can help it, I tend not to do that. I work better when focused and immersed in one, from start to finish. And it worked. I enjoyed that process. But lately this tendency to want to be working on the thing that I am not, is really annoying me! I'm sure it's some kind of psychological displacement activity. I accept that I procrastinate. I email, facebook, ebay, surf the net, etc, etc. That's fine. As long as the work also gets done, I don't beat myself up about it. But this itchy eagerness to move on to the next project when in the middle of the current one is not okay.

Because that way things don't get finished. And you end up with a lot of half baked stuff in your drawer that is no good to anyone.

I think it's because I hate writing outlines. I just hate them. They always, always look crap. Even if the idea is cool and I know I can pull off a good script, the outline will nevertheless look rubbish. I seriously admire writers who can write brilliant outlines. It really is a whole skill in itself. And I realised that apart from a short film at the beginning of this year, I haven't actually written script for a while. So am gonna bloody well finish this outline, and then just gonna write the two TV pilot scripts. And maybe that will release this mind wandering tension!

Anyone else going through this nonsense??

By the way, next week, the plan is to do a series of posts analysing each episode of the Moving On series that was stripped across BBC 1 this week. Writers, especially new writers, should absolutely be watching this sort of stuff anyway. But if you haven't, and you want to know what I'm going on about next week, you've got a wet Bank Holiday iplaying to get up to speed.

Have a good one!


laurence timms said...

Going through it in my own sweet uncomissioned, 'emerging' way. If that counts.

Writing short scripts for a project at the same time as considering my CBBC compo entry at the same time as working out the beats for a spec drama script that was until recently going to be a novel at the same time as...well, you get the picture.

It's the drama script that won't leave me alone just now. Every minute it's bugging me. Images, scenes, characters, faces bubbling up all the bloody time.

But it doesn't count until I get paid for any of it. Not in my mind, anyway. Until then it's all just a bunch of words.

Sofluid said...

I find that I have so many projects I'm eager to get on with that I end up not doing any of them...

It's a pressure thing. Can never decide which one to do first and so forth. So eager to develop all of them!

However, I am able to concentrate all my efforts when there's a competition involved... :)

So I guess the solution is to set deadlines for projects :)

Shane Knight said...

It's just human nature.

It's because that idea came and it hits you hard and you fall in love with the idea. By the time the idea as become a working story part of that magic has faded. By the time its become a script, that idea has now become work. Plain old work, and you sit there thinking the idea wasnt that great to begin with so you start to lose faith and then.......

You get a new Idea for a new project and it's fresh and it's WOW and so on and so forth.....

Jez Freedman said...

I think there's a lot of truth in that for me. It's not that I lose faith in the idea as such, but certainly once it becomes 'work' there is always that danger it won't turn out as good as it is in your head!

Shane Knight said...

It times like that I find it helps to pick up a book, magazine article, or blog and read what a professional working writer as to go thru.

William Goldman goes thru the same. Paul Abbot has P.A team to wake him up and drive him to the office and make him work. Tony Jordon asks for vast amounts of cash in shopping bags and spend the weekend in Blackpool.

You have to do what you have to do.

That's the mind set I have now and I have to admit it's really working for me and I'm finding it fun.

Lisa said...

I hate writing outlines too, Jez. And beat sheets. And all the other stuff. Sometimes I work on more than one thing. Mainly though I just write stuff out long hand and work it out from there.