Last week I contemplated how we might decide what to write next. For a variety of reasons it is easy to struggle with that decision as we try to figure out what genre, style, story, characters and themes we might want to tackle next. If you are anything like me, you’ll no doubt find yourself bouncing between options and doubting your choices. I did finally settle on a new project last week and have started the early plotting and research stages… but only after a bit of procrastination and organising desk space.
And that is what I was wondering about this week. How to get over that first difficult step of putting pen to paper and actually getting started on a project. Any assignment, project or screenplay I have ever written has started with a massive “hump” over which it has been a struggle to climb. A hump that does everything it can to stop me from putting those first few words on a page.
Something I learned with various assignments, dissertations and theses when at University was that the easiest way to get over that hump is, literally, just to write something, anything. Acknowledgements, introductions, abstracts and fleshing out contents pages were a great way to just get some ink on the page and get back into the writing frame of mind.
We would also often joke about writing the conclusions first and working back from there… which isn’t a million miles away from some of the concepts we have discussed in the Pixar series.
But, in my experience, the best way to get started is to just start… with something… anything. So, once I have set up templates in Scrivener and prepared the title page in Final Draft, checked Twitter and my emails, I’ll start easy.
I make a list.
Things to do and things I need to research for the new project. It will simple be that, a list of stuff I need to investigate to start feeling my way around the project. Once I’ve done that, it’s like letting the handbrake off the car at the top of a hill; I can just start free-wheeling into the rest of the project. The research leads to character development, scene building, snippets of dialogue and potential plot developments. It’s a snowball effect and, before you know it, your writing a new screenplay!
It is a frighteningly simple trick, but one that can elude us for what seems like a long time. As soon as I pull that trigger though, the momentum just builds.
So for me, to fight the inertia and the desire to procrastinate, I just need to start typing. Fight the fear of putting pen to paper and just write anything. Once you do, you might just wonder what all the fuss was about.
Do you find the initial step into writing a new project can be elusive and daunting?
What tricks or writing games do you use to get the creative juices flowing?
Feel free to comment below and share your own experiences.