Writing is not easy. Getting a second coffee you don’t need, watching a bit of the news, finishing off that film you started watching on Netflix, checking your social media… all of these things are there to distract you and make you then loathe yourself for failing to put words onto that screen.
Some of my best writing has taken place when I have been least in the mood. My style seems to be more controlled and less ‘free-flowing and indulgent. My normal style is a ‘stream-of-consciousness style that requires a lot of editing – I can often sit and write twenty pages of screenplay in a 5 hour sitting – but when I’m not in the mood, the same amount of effort may only produce 5.
But as I said, those 5 pages are often tighter, more direct and more disciplined. I think because of this I often use my ‘struggling for inspiration’ moments to edit what I have already written. I can edit and re-edit all of my screenplays multiple times and always seem to make them tighter and better – it’s a really good habit to get into because the more you write, the better your writing gets and the less good your earlier writing seems.
There’s something cathartic about editing. Some writers hate it but I love doing it. Making my writing better (often with feedback from people I trust) is a great feeling.
So if you are sitting there struggling with writer’s block, edit something. Take a break from your story and tidy up what you’ve already done, either on a previous piece or the piece you are struggling with. As you do so, you will find new things in the writing, new quirks in your characters, new ideas that link to future parts of the piece.
You’ll also have a chance to tighten the dialogue, make it less (less is always more when it comes to dialogue), remove and amend the typos you find as you go tidy up the formatting.
Lastly, re-reading and editing your old stuff is a great way of reminding yourself that you are actually very, very good at this. It will inspire you to keep going.
Keep writing. Keep improving. Just sit in front of that laptop and put some words down. You’ll never know when a moment of inspiration will come. In a future blog, I will give you some tips on what to do when you are completely stuck and unable to continue – a place I have been to many times.
Right now though, I have a screenplay to finish… perhaps I’ll just go and make a coffee first?