Yes, okay, so the title of this post is pretty predictable. Almost a cliche I guess. And for a writer that’s almost unforgivable. But humour me.
I always thought that writers’ block was a cliche. It’s something that’s frequently depicted in films and TV shows as a ‘thing’, and usually involves the ‘writer’ staring at a blank screen in a state of catatonic anguish (is that even possible?), or stimulating their ‘creativity’ with a bottle of ‘Jack’ and a blow-job from a leggy blonde. None of these scenarios particularly ring true for my own experience, thankfully. I can’t drink scotch, and leggy blondes don’t have much appeal. So rather than trying to find inspiration, I’ve actually been far more guilty of ‘putting it off’.
Since being involved in The Blackout Film Project in 2015, my personal writing journey (yes another cliche) seemed to stall. No that’s inaccurate, it didn’t stall, it had a catastrophic breakdown that the RAC would keep driving past! To be fair, in 2015 I had some major personal life changes, I completed my degree, and we made a feature film that almost killed us. So at the start of 2016 I found myself creatively numb. I had a complete loss of creative identity, and decided, in my infinite wisdom, to start a Writers’ Group and Just Write Preston was born as a result. Writers’ groups are amazing creative spaces, and I’d recommend any writer joining one. However, for me, running it became the biggest creative cock-blocker I’ve ever encountered! (Sorry, there’s becoming a running willy theme in this blog that’s not necessarily intentional!) Basically, I became a ‘mentor’ and completely lost sight of being a ‘writer’. While the members of the group were happily scribbling, I actually achieved nothing in the way of writing, so we sadly parted ways at the end of 2016 with my reasoning being that I needed to write a feature film. (The group still runs every Sunday 2pm at Ham and Jam Independent Coffee Shop in Preston, so if you’re local and looking for an awesome group, give Matt a go – he’s great!)
I had the inklings of an idea, the general feel of a character, and I thought this would surely be enough to inspire my writing. So, I surged forward with the full intention of starting my script. Then Christmas happened, and my birthday, and emergency surgery, and another relationship breakdown, and no writing. Absolutely none! I didn’t even open my laptop. And yet when people asked what I did I told them I was a writer. And when they inevitably asked what I was writing I told them, ‘I’m writing nothing.’ So, the question that kept me up at night became, how can I possibly call myself a writer if I’m not writing? Ahhhh identity crisis 101!! Loosing your will to write is like a bereavement. Seriously, I’m not exaggerating for literary effect, it felt like a loss. It’s bloody awful. Then I realised that the reason I actually wasn’t writing was because I didn’t care, at all, about my protagonist. And that was even more devastating!
So, I watched a lot of kitten videos on YouTube, painted my nails in various ridiculous colours, met writer friends for cake and coffee and listened to their successes, bought two actual kittens, and pretended I was living the dream. And then finally, when I had completely stopped thinking about how hopeless my writing career was, and I accepted that I was indeed suffering from a terminal case of writers’ block, came my breakthrough.
My latest obsession was born on a Monday lunchtime back in May. We’ve been in a rut recently. When I say ‘we’, we’re a team of four who work part-time as Wasp Video, and The Blackout was our last major creative project. (We all share the same strain of crazy, so we work well as a team – but nothing has really excited us for a while.) So anyway, on this particular Monday, we’re eating lunch and discussing the latest cat meme we’ve shared in our group chat, when Alan announces, completely unprovoked, that we’re going to make another feature film. And within 15 minutes of firing ideas back and forth, my protagonist was born. And I love them! Honestly, if my character was a real person my kids would be threatened!
So, long story short, we’re making a feature film. I’ve completed the first draft. It’s rough, I won’t pretend it’s anything else at this point, but it’s 72 pages of wonderfulness! And I’m starting draft 2 this week. And I literally can’t wait to start!
So that, I guess, is the point of this blog post. Writers’ block will cripple you unless you find a project you’re truly passionate about. If you don’t care, then what’s the point? So if you can’t write, don’t push it. By all means try the Jack and BJ option if you’re that way inclined, but really passionate writing won’t happen until a character truly makes you care. And finding that character is a combination of luck, belligerence, and the right level of crazy I guess! Oh, and kittens. Kittens definitely help!