blog

Reader question: “How do I keep going when I think what I’m writing is awful?”

WRITE SCREENPLAYS THAT GET NOTICED AND OPEN DOORS

Start with my 3-part email series: "The 3 Essential, Fundamental, Don't-Mess-These-Up Screenwriting Rules." After that, you'll get a weekly dose of pro screenwriting tips and industry insights that'll help you get an edge over the competition.

Subscribe
As Seen On
by Naomi Write + Co. in screenwriting

Dipping into the mailbag again today to share a reader question that I suspect most of us have asked at one time or another. (I know I have!)

I’m omitting their name to protect the innocent, but here’s the question:

“What do you do when you’re discouraged because you think what you’re writing is just godawful?”

This is the eternal question of writers everywhere! There comes a time in every project when you feel like it’s terrible, or it’s just not working, or you’ll never be able to finish it, or it’ll never be like what you’re seeing in your head.

So if you’ve asked this question, first of all — know that it’s natural and common and you’re not alone.

But how do you get over, around, or through this feeling so you can keep writing and finish your project?

Because that’s the important thing. Writing is rewriting, but you can’t rewrite what’s not on the page. If you never finish your project, you’ll never have the opportunity to see what it can truly be.

So today let’s explore some workarounds you can use to help you get to the finish line and beyond.

How to keep going when you’ve fallen out of love with the project or when you’re feeling discouraged

If you’ve been writing for any length of time, you may have discovered (by necessity) your own tricks and hacks for getting through the lulls you inevitably experience in the life of a project.

For me, what it comes down to is reigniting the spark. Reconnecting to what gets me excited about what I’m writing so that the enthusiasm helps me outrun the doubt. (Gotta get to that finish line!)

Here are my go-to methods for getting out of a writing slump:

  • Binge movies. Watch anything you want to watch and nothing you don’t. Now is not the time to watch those classics you feel guilty you haven’t yet crossed off your viewing list. Only watch things you’re excited to watch, and watch as much as you possibly can in the amount of time you have. The idea is to flood yourself with content that makes you happy and excited and inspired.
  • Read a good (or half-decent) screenwriting book. This is less about learning from what you’re reading and more about sparking your motivation and getting the wheels of your subconscious turning. You might be surprised how often you come up with useful ideas when you’re not thinking about your story.
  • Listen to a professional writer (or other industry types) you admire speak about something they’ve worked on. Whether that’s a live event or a YouTube video or a podcast. This is about letting some inspiration and hey-other-people-do-this-so-can-I seep in. There are a TON of options but one of my favorite podcasts for this purpose is The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith, because he goes into such great depth with writers about their projects.

You can do these in any order you like, all at the same time, sequentially, whatever you can fit in. I like to try to do them in as short a time frame as possible. It’s the flooding that helps.

And one last (possibly controversial) suggestion: 

If you are writing script pages and you are getting discouraged by how you feel they are turning out, then step away from screenplay format. Write out descriptions of your scenes in prose form instead. Sometimes that can be a way to get what’s in your head down on paper first, and then you can think about specific scene design and formatting later.

Overcoming writer’s block: your solutions may vary

Aren’t we all so bright-eyed when we embark on a new writing project?! But the writing process frequently takes longer than expected, and somewhere along the way we’ll hit a slump or lose our enthusiasm, and maybe want to give up completely.

But giving up isn’t the answer – not if you want to have a body of work to show and be proud of. The suggestions above are my personal tricks to rediscover my love for a project, which helps me write faster than the doubt can creep in.

What are your go-to tricks to help you through the writing process?

WRITE SCREENPLAYS THAT GET NOTICED AND OPEN DOORS

Start with my 3-part email series: "The 3 Essential, Fundamental, Don't-Mess-These-Up Screenwriting Rules." After that, you'll get a weekly dose of pro screenwriting tips and industry insights that'll help you get an edge over the competition.

Subscribe