For little over a year I’ve been working on two different projects that are coming to an end, as far as my work is concerned. In a way the end of a process can be difficult, it’s hard to know when enough is enough and the script is better served by you stepping away than by endlessly making changes. On the other hand it’s easier because there is already something there to work with. And usually someone who tells you you’re not allowed to make any more changes.
Starting on a new project and a new story can be daunting. I suppose it’s the chance of actually making that magical, amazing thing that you’ve dreamt up in your head and can feel in your body when you close your eyes, coupled with the possibility of total failure. So the stakes are high. As they should be. Once I’ve had the initial idea and the surge of energy that comes with it I find that I usually end up in a slump. Any attempt to write down any words or even letters, be it in a notebook or in a document on the computer, seems futile and hopeless. Nothing comes close to capturing that idea and that surge of energy I experienced thinking about the play earlier.
Even though I’ve written plays before it’s always the case that I’ve never written this particular play and story before. So while all that experience is really helpful in a way it’s still not the same as knowing how to do it this time around. For me the writing process changes from project to project as well. Sometimes doing research helps, sometimes it’s just procrastinating; sometimes reading other plays helps, sometimes it makes me even more scared of writing; sometimes just forcing myself to write lines of dialogue without even knowing the characters is the best way of getting started, sometimes I need to develop the characters before I start thinking about dialogue. So there are no shortcuts, there’s just the long road of work and despair leading to the first draft.
Getting the first draft down on paper can feel like the biggest challenge. To try and fool my brain and get around the frustration and stress of it I now start with a version 0, before the first draft and somehow that helps. At least for now.
So I should really get back to trying to get some words down on paper for the version 0 I’m working on right now. But I’m being kind to myself at this stage. If I can get a page of shitty dialogue down in a day, that’s a win! I always write shitty dialogue at some point in the process, so might as well get it over and done with early on.