Screenwriting Tricks for Authors

On Writers Not Writing

I’ve posted Part 3 of this Is My Story Idea BIG Enough? series today, too. But based on some conversations I’ve been having, in the workshop and out of it, I also feel the need to post something that you might call an anti-Nanowrimo post. Because the very last thing I want to encourage is that you approach this by forcing yourself, or shaming yourself, into participating.

If you don’t want to do Nanowrimo, DON’T DO IT! 

If writing has become painful, stressful, or impossible for you, let’s deal with that, first.

Now that I’ve got some time to run some writing workshops again, I am taking a good look at the comments of other writers about why they’re not writing. (The fact that these comments are written on social media means they ARE writing—just not writing their books…)

Not judging!!!  I GET emotional burnout. I’ve GOT it. The whole world is suffering PTSD from the pandemic—the US also from the flat-out evil rule of a malignant narcissist, the UK the same, as the often hilarious and always horrifying top-trending Twitter thread #StayInGermany was bearing witness to this week (I particularly liked “a dictatorship of sixth-form sociopaths”).
Add something like a struggling family member, a lost job, a divorce, suddenly having to homeschool the kids, the grieving for ill/dying parents – to that already elevated level of emotional stress (I know all about some of that, too) and it’s a miracle any of us get out of bed in the morning.
And OF COURSE we need to self-nurture and recover. We need refuge.
What I don’t get—is why for a writer, their BOOK is not their refuge.
Our whole job involves creating worlds for readers to inhabit, to experience something completely outside of themselves. But we writers get to live in that world, too, and for much longer than a reader gets to. Not just live in it—luxuriate, explore, play, discover, get excited, get terrified, get exhilarated.
So if the very idea of writing is filling you with dread, or despair, I’d ask you to consider this:
If your book, or script, isn’t someplace you’re eager to escape into, every day—if it’s not your refuge, your restoration, your daily self-nurture—then maybe, just maybe, you’re going about this book thing a bit cockeyed.
I find writing—like dance, yoga, hiking, the ocean—profoundly meditative. Yeah, like everyone, I might resist starting—but soon after I do I can feel the endorphins kick in. So if that’s not happening for you… why?
Is your book your refuge? If not, could it be? What made you fall in love with it? Focus on that falling-in-love feeling for a while and see what happens.
If the answer is, NO, this book is not a refuge, it could never be a refuge, it is a cesspit from the lowest depths of hell….
Well…isn’t it worth asking yourself: what world WOULD you want to escape into, every day? And get so excited about that you can’t wait to bring other people into it, too?
Because you can literally put yourself into any world you choose. What awesome power!
Your book will be BIG enough when you can get yourself quiet and relaxed enough —for even just fifteen minutes a day— and let yourself feel that expansiveness inside you. Like magic, the rest of your life will start to expand, too.
Isn’t it a gift that every day we can reinvent ourselves, and our writing?
– Alex