So folks, have you noticed that the advice has been getting a bit more hard-edged on this blog recently? That’s because I’m sick and tired of my stalled-out career and I need to make some changes. Unfortunately, part of this drive involves taking the summer off from this blog, starting in two weeks.
I started this blog two and a half years ago because I had hit a ceiling in the quality of my specs and I wanted to figure out what I was doing wrong. The good news is that I learned more than I ever thought possible. I feel like this blog has turned me (and hopefully even one or two of you) into a spec-script-super-genius. The bad news is that I haven’t actually written any new specs in the last two years.
This happens frequently to writers at the beginning of their career. You’re taking a lot of meetings and people are (vaguely) promising you a lot of money to write up their ideas, so you re-configure your brain to be write their way, not your way. Unfortunately, you gradually realize that 90% of the hype you’re hearing is bogus, and most of these producers never actually pay you anything. You find yourself writing endless free re-writes “on spec” for people who aren’t releasing any movies.
So then you have to get back to writing original screenplays, which is hard, because there are suddenly no deadlines, no notes to address, and no hype to pump you up. But that’s what I’m going to try to do.
So why does the blog have to go on summer hiatus? Part of the problem is that this blog has just been too damn fulfilling. I wake up with the urge to write blog posts, not screenplays. After all, I get to publish everyday, get responses everyday, and track each post’s popularity online. Screenwriting just can’t compete with that sort of instant gratification. It’s going to be painful to deny myself that joy for three months. But I have to do it in order to refocus my energies where they need to be.
Of course, I can’t help but think of Diane leaving Sam at the altar on “Cheers” and promising, “I’ll be back in six months” only to stay away for six years. So the real question is: Am I really coming back in September?
The answer is: Yeah, probably. At this point, I basically generate one Storyteller’s Rulebook post for every page of actual screenwriting I complete, and that’s great, because it helps me codify what I’m learning. I don’t think that’ll change, so I expect to be stockpiling new rules all summer, until I get to roll them out in September. I’m also only an eighth of the way through “What Could’ve Won”, and I’d love to finish that. The bigger question is: Will any of you guys come back? Obviously, my circulation will take a huge hit, and I may have to rebuild from scratch. We’ll see…
So why am I announcing this now if it’s not beginning yet? Because it leads into the last epic, 12-part series before the summer vacation called “What I Wish I'd Heard At Graduation,” featuring the sort of hard-nosed advice I really wish I’d gotten when I needed it, about screenwriting or just about life. That begins tomorrow…