When it's going badly...
Coping with screenwriting catastrophes.
This is not where I wanted to start with the paid newsletters, but you have to go where the mood takes you. And today has me thinking about catastrophes. More specifically, the catastrophe that happened yesterday, that I can now just about see clearly enough to write about it...
From the outside, writing probably looks like one of the best jobs in the world; you set your own hours, you don't have to commute, you're basically just making stuff up for a living. Who doesn't fancy that?
But then there are the times when it's not working; times, hopefully few and far between, when you will realise that the script you have been working on every day for the past month or more is, in fact, terrible. You haven't just made a wrong turn, or a few poor choices, you can't simply unpick a few rows and then knit the thing back together again. The whole thing was a crappy idea from inception and you have only made it crappier with your palpable lack of talent.
The whole endeavour is a disaster. And this means that YOU are a disaster. For this is the lot of the writer. A plumber faced with a stubbornly blocked toilet or a mystery leak is unlikely to question every life choice that led them into the plumbing trade, they are probably not actively querying either their abilities as a plumber or their value as a member of the human race. The plumber understands that the problem is external.
Not so the writer. For how can this be an external problem? If you are making something up and it's bad, how can that be anything other than a symptom of your own inability and unsuitability for this task with which you have mistakenly been entrusted?
"Don't be so hard on yourself," someone might say, who has never met a writer before and doesn't understand that being hard on ourselves is all we actually do most days. For the most part it's performative; we imagine we are pushing ourselves to be better, not to settle for mediocrity, and yet we secretly think we're doing OK. But then, sometimes, a catastrophe does occur. We hit some bad turbulence and the overhead locker where we keep our self-doubt bursts open, the contents tumbling onto our heads. A reality concussion: we really are shit at this.
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