Saturday, 6 December 2008

Running on empty

Working every hour there is has managed to pay the bills so far. But, it is physically draining. - - And then about 3 weeks ago I finally exhausted the tank and I've been running on empty ever since. ... Which was kind of okay; with Christmas coming up I was due two weeks off from one of my jobs, so that would have been a nice restful break. I could have stoked the furnaces and then got right back to it. :)

However that job has just informed me that my services are no longer required. The credit crunch just bit me! Ouch! And my first reaction was an overwhelming sense of relief.

I have officially been told that I can relax.

The problem is, I think I relaxed too much and something important went SPANG!

The last time I felt like this was the day after I finished my English 'O' Level and my ability to spell the word and evaporated. I knew it had three letters and that there was an 'n' in it, but I sat there looking at the sentence I was writing for 10 minutes and I could not figure out how to write it. In the end I left a three letter space and kept writing. A paragraph later the word the threatened to do the same thing, so in my best inner Monty Python general's voice I said "Stop it! That's silly!" and the sprang back into sharp focus, and and jumped back in at the same time. I went back and filled it in.

Never had that problem again until just now. But instead of it being just the word and, I seem to be having a global creativity failure. I can't tell if anything I'm writing is good anymore. I read it, and it's just ... words. Maybe it's a variation on writer's block?

I'm fairly sure that I relaxed the wrong muscle in my skull and my brain has fallen out.

If found please mail it back to me?

Eleanor Piper
High Security Ward
The Assylum
The Wilds of Devon


Saturday, 29 November 2008

Which brings me on to the subject of ... rewrites

If you're looking at your story and having a bit of a mare, you might want to check out these posts from the scribosphere:

Phillip Barron on the rewrite process.

DMc on What Happened, What Will Happen, and why the Why It Happened is a big mistake.

And John August has several: This and This and This amongst many others.

There was a long old post on the subject somewhere that I've been trying to find ... but I've run out of time and I've got to get on with the day job. *sigh*


Uncooperative scripts.

The American collaboration screenplay has hit a slight snag. The story is being uncooperative.

I'm looking at what I want in the rewrite, and the effing thing is laughing at me!


Have no fear. I shall pummel it into shape. I just need to work out the best angle of attack. :)

Monday, 17 November 2008

Holding your breath ...

... is universally a bad idea.

Aside from the whole turning blue, keeling over, and waking up with a bunch of strangers staring at you worriedly thing. - - That's normal. Bunch of strangers staring at me worriedly happens every day*. Virtually everyone I meet or pass on the street reacts like that. - - Aside from that, there's the whole time wasting aspect to it (which could be classed as procrastination I suppose, or maybe a variation on writer's block?) where you are waiting instead of doing.

In this case I have not been wholly holding my breath as I wait for the verdict on The Grim; I've been mulling other projects, but not actively working on them the way I should have been. Bad Eleanor!

Producer No#1 was kind enough to let me know there has been no decision as yet, because they are having a BIG RUCK over the script. He loves it as is. The folks behind the scenes want to transfer the setting from the UK to the USA. - - Hmm. If you've read the story you'll realise that I think Producer No#1 is a man of rare insight and spectacular story know-how who should be listened to at all times.
... However, if it really comes down to it, I can always write them a brand new script about a monster eating people in the USA it just won't be this monster. Maybe it's cousin?

So, it looks like interesting times (the Chinese type) are headed my way. Again. Oh joy.

I'd better pull my finger out and get back to working on the other story with my American co-writers ... before they lynch me for falling off the face of the planet. :)

*Well, every day that I venture out of my cave into the view of other people.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Errors In Judgement

The production company who love my screenplay ... indications are that after the rewrite, not so much.

So what changed? I followed their notes, it's a much stronger story and Producer No#1 is still very keen, but it seems to have cooled down a bit behind the scenes. So why is that? Afterall, it is essentially the same script with some tweaks.
- - I think I have an inkling.
Although before you read this as discovered wisdom, bare in mind I have almost no exposure to the process and I could be talking total bollocks, as is my usual want. D'oh!

But, I think I can point to a change I made in the third act - climax, penultimate battle ... previously I had not intercut the scenes, or split them with slugs. It read really smoothly, but wasn't particularly in proper format. So I added the slugs, thinking they've already said they like it. This change will bring it that one tiny millimeter closer to shooting script layout, so that change helps me visualise all the extra things I need to do to get this set of scenes to that next step.

However, this is still supposed to be a reading script, and by adding those slugs, instead of an intercut (which in hindsight is the option I should have taken) I just made it LESS READER FRIENDLY. Removing some of the flow adds distance between the words on paper and the consumer of those words.

At least, I think that's what is happening here. Still waiting for a verdict, so this is a huge guess on my part. But in the next pass I'm going to change it to intercut and see if it flies any better.

Then again, maybe it's a budget thing, or some other screenplay has turned up and knocked their socks off? *sigh*

Moral of the story? - - Even when you think it's in the bag, never relax!
Oh, and the perennial - - assumption makes an ass of you and me.

Guess I'll have to wait to see how the damage translates. ... Then again, it's such a small nit-pick, maybe it's a budget thing?

UPDATE: 17th November 2008.
D'oh! Okay, that's not it at all! Phew! Although something to bear in mind for next time I start getting all ahead of myself. Keep a reading script a reading script. Worry about the next step after the contracts are signed.

Sunday, 26 October 2008


An extra hour in bed today! Woo-hoo!

Or it would have been, if I hadn't woken up at silly o'clock to discover an email waiting for me and got on line to discuss a writing project with my American co-writers. *rolls eyes* :)

Still, means I get to start day-job type work an hour later than normal, so that's a bonus! LOL

Monday, 13 October 2008

Same old, same old.

Another rejection on the Tarot book.


I suspect finding a home for it is not going to be a doddle, if memory serves from all the leg work I had to put in before I found it the house of collapsing cards last time.

Oh well. Onwards and upwards.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

As one door shuts...

... another door gets cranked open wider.

The Grim has lured another producer out of the woodwork.

So now there's two of them circling the script at a distance, like sharks around a baited hook.

I don't know if either of them will bite. So far they're just looking and nibbling on the chum.


Pressure's building. Eek!

I'd better get back to the keyboard.


What does it all mean? Not a lot. They could evaporate like mist in the morning sun.

But the fact that they are there is so cool! Are you all green yet? I am. Exhilarated and terrified. And a little seasick.

Look at those beauties; I love sharks, but they've got that whole primeval, gonna kill you predator thing going on. All muscular and sleek, can out swim you without even breaking a sweat, and with so many teeth. Makes me want to wet my knickers just thinking about them ... er, sorry, got side tracked there for a bit.

Back to the keyboard.

Monday, 29 September 2008

F**K! It's nearly October.

Where does all the time go?


Apparently a verbal agreement is not worth the paper it is printed on.

Yeah, okay, we all know this. I know this.

But being the publishing business, I assumed a verbal agreement to publish a book was just that, an agreement to publish a book. - - The book. - - The book that I've just spent an age working on.

I realise in the film industry, as a writer, you get smoke blown up your arse all the time and things have to not only be signed, and sealed, but also have to be delivered in order to be considered as a pot you can safely count your chickens in. But I somehow thought that being paper and bindings and all stable things you can touch, the book industry was different. More solid somehow.

Films are all about smoke and mirrors.

Books are ... paperweights.

You can use books to anchor down more flimsey things, such as shopping lists and notes about interesting things you've seen and heard that'll be great for that scene when... - - when they aren't being read. The smaller dictionary I have makes a great paperweight for all my notes, and it's handily in reach on my desk at all times too! Books are more real... Except, it turns out they're not.

Anyhow, I'm gnashing my teeth. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!

After a lot of work I have now been told that "things have moved on" and my book is not going to be published afterall.

I knew I should have asked for a contract way back when. I feel really stupid.

Chalk it all up to lessons learned.

Excuse me while I go and sob into my coffee...

...and then I have to get on with that film rewrite.

And find a new publisher.

And ... does anyone know a good hitman? ;)

Darn! Procrastination just doesn't seem to be an available option today.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Quick update

Scotland was great. You should all visit!

Aberdeen was particularly fine. The granite city has everything on offer* including glorious long golden sandy beaches which are almost empty -- all the kids are indoors playing on their Wii's or something. The nutters. (*think of it, it's there - except maybe camel racing? But they could. Business opportunity for some fearless soul!) It even has some trecherous swell at the front of the harbour, which means that every boat that comes in has to have a pilot sent out to bring it in otherwise it's likely to smash itself to bits. Drama!

Aside from the castle trail and the distillery trail - what more could you need I ask. Aside from those, you've got all kinds of wildlife including buffalo and ostriches!
I dunno, you go to Scotland to see red squirrels, and instead you get buffalo... *rolls eyes*

Don't believe me, go see for yourselves!

... My attempt to hide didn't work though. I came back to notes, and crushing hope, because even if the script never sees the light of celluloid those notes are going to make the story a lot stronger. They've discussed it and everyone in the office still likes it, apparently, including their director who might just possibly maybe be interested in making it. Although they're reading other scripts at the moment as well. - - That's one effective torture system they've perfected there.
Screenwriter's life. ... I'd better get used to it.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Death by encouragement.


This can't be right.

They say they like it.
It has potential, but needs work in some areas - - as all scripts do.
They'll be discussing it this week and then they'll get back to me.

It must be a wind up. ... Or they're insane. ... Or my plan of beating all the other screenplays out of the competition by getting there first has worked! (Because while I have the delusion that I am good, I'll be the first to admit that I am not Joss Whedon - the lack of male bits kinda gives that away.)

Thank you Mr Barron for imparting true *secret* screenwriter wisdom in your blog! Being first is obviously the key to success! Hoorah!

*slap's self across cheek* Calm down woman. You're getting all over excited. They're just being polite. They really hate it. It's some perfected form of screenwriter torture that they've developed. And once they've discussed the screenplay, they'll come back with a pass. *heaves shoulders and sighs*

Okay, I'm off to hide in Scotland for a week. Maybe they'll have forgotten all about that dratted thing by the time I return? Then I can get back to my quietly hectic life of trying to squeeze enough time out of the day to actually sit in front of the laptop.

Way hey! Aberdeen here I come! :)

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Ah crap, it's do or die time.

Phillip Barron's blog is so f**king entertaining and inspiring, I ignored common sense and responded to an advert on which requested a synopsis and logline for a supernatural horror script.

I have one of those! I thought.

You may remember my feedback regarding The Grim? "It's not ready yet!" A unanimous verdict. Rewrite definitely required!

And seduced by the ease of email, I gayly sent off the synopsis despite the fact that the script is in DIRE NEED OF A REWRITE.

I'll have loads of time, I thought, they won't get back to me for weeks. Besides they'll hate it. I'll probably never hear from them again - - unless it's to tell me to stop contacting them.

Wrong. So very wrong.

2 days later... TWO. Count 'em! ... 2 days later they email me to request the script.

Now way back when I did start the rewrite, but then my time got taken up with other things like getting my book ready for publication, outlining new ideas, and working every-hour-there-is just so's I can pay the bills and eat. And then of course there's all the time taken up by pointless things like sleeping and eating and socializing...

Okay, it's nearly a year. You've got me, I'll cop to it. I have no excuse other than pure laziness. And now someone wants to see a supernatural horror script ASAP. DRAT!

So, I figure I've got about two days to rewrite The Grim to get it ship-shape and send it in before they read someone else's masterpiece and block all other email submissions!

What? They might. In my paranoid dreams they do at any rate.

Two days? Phill would laugh, easy, he'd say. - - Yeah right. In addition to that I made the mistake of agreeing to work overtime this weekend, so my days are fully taken. I have about an hour free after sunrise and and hour in the evening before sunset, but other than that I only have the dark, wee small hours to write in. Still it's a supernatural horror. It should add to the atmosphere of the piece. And I've always fancied staying awake for 48 hours straight when I'm not high on adrenaline and coffee from playing D&D like I used to back when I was 17.

I've been tired for the last two weeks and I didn't get much sleep last night due to my neighbours' very loud party... I wonder at what point I'll pass out on my laptop from exhaustion?

Wish me luck! ;)

Sunday, 20 July 2008

The Three Gifts

When my Fairy Godmother (A.K.A. The Fairy God-Cat) cursed me at birth she didn't mess about. Those Three "Gifts" she gave me were the ones that any sane person dreads:


Individually, not so bad you might think. But as a combination quite capable of destroying the mind and soul of the fainthearted. Luckily I have the heart of an ox. I keep it pickled in a jar in the cupboard.

1) WRITING - quite a cool gift you might imagine, unless of course you are afflicted with it.

If I don't write regularly I start to lose my grip on reality: one month without any kind of writing and I start to slip into minor insanity... I tried it once as an experiment.

Really. Not. Pleasant.

I am only loosely connected to sanity at the best of times, I tend to orbit around sanity rather than live hand-in-hand with it the way most people seem to. So when I say the feeling of losing your grip is unpleasant, I'm already starting from a point a ways off normal. (I know some other writers are afflicted with this curse, so don't pretend you're not aware of the feeling I'm talking about gentle readers! YES, I am looking at you. Stop trying to hide behind that cup of expresso!)

The other problem with being afflicted with writing, is that I really know that I can write. ... It's not some half-hearted optimism, but a firm belief. No, it's more than that! I actually KNOW that I can write.

I'm a fanatic when it comes to my belief in my ability to write. It isn't a wishy-washy spurious system of belief like say 'a belief in the existence of God'
(Or gods? Whatever, choose your poison).

I KNOW I CAN WRITE. IT IS WHO I AM. - - Which links into the whole boundless optimism thing.

You could present me with an affidavit which says that "Eleanor is a bad writer" signed by every writer there ever was, is, or ever will be, and it wouldn't make a dent. ... I'm a bit of an ego monster about my writing. Perhaps a quiet monster that prefers to lurk rather than being the type of monster who shouts from the rooftops or swings from buildings, but a monster nonetheless. *sigh* Told you it was a curse.

2) PROCRASTINATION - "So what?" you say, "Every writer indulges in that particular paddling pool."

Yeah, okay, fair cop. But when you really know you can write and then get no where fast doing it, the doubts creep in. And that's not just doubts about your ability as a writer, that's doubts about your whole reason for being.


3) BOUNDLESS OPTIMISM - which drags me back into the whole vicious circle of hell that keeps me always looking for that next story, the next hit, this might be the one...

*gnashes teeth*

So, gentle readers, were any of you cursed at birth? And if so, with what?
Enquiring minds need to know. Fess up, I double dare ya.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Don't Know Mind

One of the concepts in Zen is Don't Know Mind. Powerful stuff it is, ... or isn't, ... or heck, do you even care?

But I have just realised I should maybe be applying it to the way I've been (successfully procrastinating by) trying very very very hard to learn this whole screenplay 3 act structure malarky for a fairly long time now.
Quite a revelation, and mostly thanks to Mr Martell and his insights:

He has yet another great script tip up at his site, this one is called Three Act Conflict

"The 3 Act Structure is a tool that has been around for at least 2,400 years in storytelling - and it has lasted so long because it works. But the purpose of the 3 Act Structure is not to make sure that you have a major plot point halfway down page 27, it's to make sure your story IS a story... not just a collection of events that concern a protagonist. One of the Three Greek Unities is Unity Of Event - your story has to be about ONE event rather than a series of events. Some think of the Three Acts as "beginning, middle, and end" as a way to target a single event... to make sure the story IS a story."

Now I have spent a long time trying to work out the secrets of structure, how to get it all just right, find that magic formula.

And you know what I just realised? I DON'T KNOW ANYTHING about 3 act structure. The harder I try to fathom it out, the more I tighten my grip, the further it slips through my fingers like grains of sand.

I already have everything I need to create story. I don't need to try so very darned hard to figure it out.

"Do... or do not. There is no try."


Thanks Yoda.

*prolific swearing*

Phew! Thank goodness that's over!

Moving house ... Who'd do it? Huh? Huh?

Specially with the amount of crud it turns out I own. *rolls eyes*

Well, I took some time off work - spent some of it being ill (timing sucks!) and for the rest of it I was packing up my stuff for the move. Managed to get it done in time for the heroes who turned up with their van to shift all my worldly possessions.

I paid cash, strapped as I am, because the new flat is on the second floor.

Now you may be able to tell that I am British, so by second floor I mean up two very long twisty and treacherous flights of stairs.

No way I was doing all that on my own!

... And all the masochists I'd managed to con into helping me move house on previous occasions somehow, mysteriously had developed totally solid, utterly un-cancelable other plans (like watching television and sniggering as they ate popcorn, I suspect).

I threw away/recycled a whole bunch of stuff, and yet I still seem to have more junk than anyone can possibly own. Maybe the gnomes keep adding lost items to the J-space* in the back of my cupboards whenever they can?

Well the men were great. Worth every penny. (Stop snorting Lucy!)
If you are ever in East Devon and looking for a removal firm I can recommend them whole-heartedly. H. E. R. O. E. S.

So that's over and done with, phew!

Now all I have to do is unpack everything. Groovy.
First thing I've started on is my office. It's looking good. :) Lots more to do yet though.

Hopefully I'll have everything ship-shape again ASAP so I can devote myself to the writing again. First things first though: BT are putting a phone line in on Tuesday so I can be contactable again. I'll be able to relax a bit once that has happened. And of course I have to contact everyone in the world with my new details ... like the Inland Revenue and the DVLA and all those other lovely people who need to know where I am so they can bill me for this that and the other. Joy.

The sooner we get the technology to just plug a change of details in to one form on our personal I.D. webspace so we can sit back and relax knowing that all the necessary authorities, utility companies, friends, associates, freaks and angels have been notified the better says I.

Roll on the sci-fi future.

Heck we already have microwaves and iPhones. Hurry up with the rest of it already!

So now I'm back at work recovering from the stress and physical exertion of moving. It's been a busy week.

How's your week been?


Saturday, 24 May 2008

Well, this has been one weird-ass week ... A.K.A. Good procrastination can be very good!

This has been a week of weird, and altogether far too much is going on! But all of it good. :)

The additional part time job (factory work. *YAWN* And incidentally not the job I had the good feeling about, which turned out to be yet another wind-up siding on the path of trying to earn a living) started this week - light manual labour for two days, but boy am I knackered. It's good though. Once I'm used to it, it'll give me the chance to switch in to auto-pilot and let my brain soar away in to the land of story. Also a great opportunity for people-watching. Plus, I will now be able to afford to do a few things that I enjoy - - If I can ever find the time!


I've been idly thinking that I may need to move to a cheaper house, but without quite being at the commitment level that involves planning a move. However, on a whim this week I went and saw a place that unexpectedly is just PERFECT. So I put in an offer, without even thinking of the "Oh my goodness I have to pack everything and throw away all the shit I moved house with the last two times before I even consider moving house again" consequences. I didn't think I'd get it, the people who saw it directly before me put in an offer too, so I thought I wouldn't stand a chance in hele, but the agents turned around and said "It's yours!" ... So now I have to sort out all the paperwork and then spend every spare moment throwing out or recycling crap, and packing all my other stuff so I can move house some time in the next two to three weeks.

ARGH! But also, Excellent!

And then last night ... ho-oo boy, last night! ... Last night I came home to a phone message that proves not all procrastination is bad, in fact some can be down right amazingly good!

All that procrastinating I did, editing my Tarot book after that nibble of interest from a publisher, has paid dividends. I sent them a letter detailing my new vision for the book - basically turned the emphasis of the book on its head, the main thread is now (to use screenwriting terminology) B Story, and the secondary thread is now most definitely the A Story ... except we're talking about Tarot so it's not a novel and the word story really doesn't apply. But you get what I mean.

There's a shed load of work to be done yet, and no money at all (virtually), but come next spring I'm gonna be a published author! WAY-HEY! HOORAH! etc, etc. *dancing in celebration*

So procrastination has been my official route to becoming a published author.


You can't see it but I'm doing The Dance Of Joy ... and as I boogie, I notice all the crap around the flat that I should be in the process of packing, or recycling, or throwing out. *sigh*

But, how good is that?!!

This has been one weird-ass week.

"Have you paid your dues, Jack?"
"Yes, Sir. The check is in the mail."

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Solving one form of procrastination

Paul Graham has come up with a way to stop himself from being distracted by the internet when he is supposed to be working. Read about his solution here!

I use a similar method myself.

Now if only I can cut out all the other distractions and learn some self discipline I might actually manage to write something.

Everything you ever wanted to know ... about procrastination (maybe)

DMc has a link to a great set of articles by The Slate on procrastination.

A cunning and viscious spiral trap if ever I fell into one!

Thanks. Denis.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Creating Character

Holly Lisle has a great article on How To Create Characters. She may be talking about writing for novels, but the same principles apply.

She doesn't think about their physical appearance. Instead she starts out by giving her character a problem, a dramatic need, a compulsion. That's your springboard. An insight into their internal landscape.

Bill Martell writes about 3-D Characters: using contrast to explore character.

There are about a gazillion other articles online about creating character. If you have any you want to recommend, please give details in the comments?

So, how do I do that...?

... I'm talking about Bill's suggestion to use your personal problems to fuel your writing.

Well, you know what, that works great for new projects - where it is possible to do what he suggests and line your story up with your emotions. :) Excellent!

However, not so great for existing ideas with different emotional emphasis. So working on the rewrite? Still not really happening at the moment. Concentration is difficult, and what I am writing on it is frankly crap.

In the few moments I have to myself each day I find I'm either chewing over solutions to the finance issue, distracting myself with other activities, or (Hoorah!) writing an outline for the next story.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Lack of focus - a variation of writer's block?

I recently read one of Bill Martell's script tips on writer's block:

"But sometimes we experience writer's block because of things happening in our personal life that have nothing to do with our scripts. Often writer's block is a symptom of depression or anxiety in our every day life. As writers we use OURSELVES as our tools, so when things go wrong in real life it may screw up the writing, too. This is the hardest stuff to deal with, because even after you realize "Hey! The reason why I have writer's block is because I caught my wife in bed with my best friend!" that doesn't solve the problem. If you are fighting serious personal problems it will be difficult to find the energy to write. Financial problems, relationship problems, health problems, family problems - stuff like that takes time to get over. But sometimes you can find a scene that matches your mood and write that - use whatever your personal problems are to fuel your writing." Read the full script tip here.

It struck a real chord with me...and I realised that one of the varients of writer's block that he describes - excerpt above - is what is currently happening to me.


*gnashing of teeth*

I don't get writer's block. I refuse point blank. ... I shall use my personal crippling financial problems to fuel my writing. Okay, great.


How, do I do that exactly?

Between starving and getting evicted I mean... Okay, I exaggerate flagrantly. That's not actually happening.

In actual fact a second job is looking to become a reality -- in the heart of the wilds of Devon, even getting an interview is a bit of a miracle -- of course I could be jumping the gun, but I have a good feeling about this opportunity.

On the down side, it does mean I'll be working every hour there is. The up side is that it will keep the wolf away from the door. And junior doctors will probably still be jealous of the amount of down time I get... probably. And I can already feel my creative drive metaphorically opening a new pad of paper and sharpening its favourite pencil. :)

First things first though: murder all the competition so that I am the only applicant, and then shine at the interview. :)


Saturday, 5 April 2008

Good and Bad Procrastination

Everyone seems to be banging on about Lions at the moment...well, okay, Alex is, and ED stole his okay, actually it was Paul who mentioned the lions. -- Do you have a headache yet? I'm feeling a little dizzy.

Alright, lets break it down: Alex said that Paul Graham wrote a great piece about startup programmers and big company programmers in which he compares them to lions in the wild versus lions in the zoo. The lions in the zoo seem "both more worried and happier."

Alex then affirmed that his Canadian [ - read about the bru-ha-ha over Bill C-10] producer and writer friends are worried all the time. They don't know where their next paycheck is coming from. They don't know if the industry will collapse due to moralistic Conservative government intervention. They have no idea what they'd do for a living if people stopped hiring them, or paying them.

But their frustrations are the frustrations of lions in the wild. They are always stalking the next antelope, or trying to keep the hyenas off of one they've already caught.

They all seem so alive.

English Dave then provided the colourful language that actually got me to click on the link in the post that he had stolen from Alex...

Kinda says it all. A writer can never be a zoo lion, unless it is for research and even then they'll probably fuck a zebra and eat a keeper.

Thanks for that image ED.

Anyhow, to cut a long story even longer and perhaps finally get to the point: Paul Graham has a great essay up about his theories on procrastination.

The most impressive people I know are all terrible procrastinators. So could it be that procrastination isn't always bad?

Most people who write about procrastination write about how to cure it. But this is, strictly speaking, impossible. There are an infinite number of things you could be doing. No matter what you work on, you're not working on everything else. So the question is not how to avoid procrastination, but how to procrastinate well.

But the trouble with big problems - like say, writing a screenplay* - can't be just that they promise no immediate reward and might cause you to waste a lot of time. If that were all, they'd be no worse than going to visit your in-laws. There's more to it than that. Big problems are terrifying. There's an almost physical pain in facing them. It's like having a vacuum cleaner hooked up to your imagination. All your initial ideas get sucked out immediately, and you don't have any more, and yet the vacuum cleaner is still sucking.

You can't look a big problem too directly in the eye. You have to approach it somewhat obliquely. But you have to adjust the angle just right: you have to be facing the big problem directly enough that you catch some of the excitement radiating from it, but not so much that it paralyzes you. You can tighten the angle once you get going, just as a sailboat can sail closer to the wind once it gets underway.

If you want to work on big things, you seem to have to trick yourself into doing it. You have to work on small things that could grow into big things, or work on successively larger things, or split the moral load with collaborators. It's not a sign of weakness to depend on such tricks. The very best work has been done this way.

*my emphasis

Well, it's good to get external confirmation that there is good procrastination. Now all I have to do is eliminate the bad procrastination and I'm on to a winner. :)

Monday, 24 March 2008

Go read this

When to stop writing by Ken Levine

"Sitting down to start writing each day is tough. And so is knowing when to stop. If the two events are usually within fifteen minutes of each other pick another profession. But if you’re really putting in the hours, and there’s no foreman telling you when quitting time is, when is quitting time?..."

A rant

I've been reading a lot of TV scripts in the past few months, which inspired me to dust off Babylon 5 and have a bit of a B5 Marathon in my spare time...

It's not procrastinating, it's research. Honest! Bah, suit yourselves.

...and right in the middle of DRAMA!, the phone rings. Grrr. Except it could be my sister, I was waiting for her to return my call. Hit pause. Grab phone.

CHIRPY, ENTHUSIASTIC AMERICAN ACCENT: "You have been selected for a once in a lifetime opportunity! Press 9 for more details as operators are standing by."

BRITISH MUTTERING: "Try press off, for b*gger off."

(Here's the thing, I have a paranoid habit of checking that the phone has disconnected when I put it down; none of these crafty reverse the charges scumbag scamster calls for me, oh no! -- Actually it's mainly because I have found the occasional line problem where BT seems to leave you connected with the person you were talking to even though one or other of you has hung up. And then no one can ring you. It's happened enough that I check now.)

OFF ... listens -- still connected to Chirpy, Enthusiastic American Accent chuntering away about my once in a life time opportunity.
It better be once in a lifetime. Grrr.

OFF ... "-Press-" OFF! ... and they were still there, so I unplugged the phone


... plugged it back in "-9 for more details-" ARGH!


...Eventually they got the message.

Crap. They'll probably ring back.

Time flies by...

Been a while. But was I procrastinating, or writing? -- A little of both.

For the most part I've either been putting words on paper, or mulling, so I have been writing one way or another almost every day. So that's good...

What's bad is: my brain can't settle - I'm allowing myself to be distracted - so the writing and mulling has been for several different projects that I have on the back burner.

And most recently, I've had a nibble of interest in one of my Tarot books, which has lead to some frantic procrastination in the form of editing and rewriting. This counts as procrastination because I'm supposed to be screenwriting, not book writing. Naughty Eleanor.
It probably won't result in anything, but it's nice to get the nibble. :)

I do need to give myself a bit of a slap upside the head though. I've fallen back into my old pattern of flitting from project to project, rather than forcing myself to stick to one thing. I am going to pick up my fantasy screenplay again and concentrate on the rewrite for that. I've said it now, in public, so I have to do it.


Sunday, 13 January 2008

Slave wages...overtime, was it worth it?

Being a nutter, and not being sure how I'm going to pay the quarterly bills that are due this month, I signed up for all the overtime that work had going - they let me do quite a lot...although I think a junior doctor would be jealous of the amount of free time I had between sleeping and my shifts.

Despite working my little socks off, I have also managed to do some writing every day. Hooray! So the regime is functioning nicely at the moment. :) Some days it was only a word or two, but other days several pages at a time. All this is mulling, notes-type writing, but it's coming well. So, so far so good!

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

This here writing regime...

So, this here writing regime you're supposed to be starting on. How's that going then?

Um, er... well...

I did do a 9 page review on a friend's screenplay - so while not being writing writing, it kinda counts? Maybe?

Next up is a rewrite. I'll start mulling on that one tomorrow. May even put a pen to paper, you never can tell. :)

Tuesday, 1 January 2008