Yesterday morning, I had the opportunity listen to Ron Shelton speak about screenwriting.
As a brief contextual background, this weekend is a film festival honoring an English professor of my University who has been teaching here for over 40 years. He has long loved and been involved in film…working with Ron Shelton on two of his films. Thus this opportunity.
Apart from his approachability and openness, I thoroughly enjoyed hearing what he had to say about writing and his processes. While I have not attempted to write a screenplay and am not sure I ever will, across genres, writing remains the stringing together of words to form ideas. As much as my professors love to remind us (and I need the prodding), I frequently fail at one of the ultimate litmus tests to determine a committed writer: prolificacy.
I know I should write daily. And it’s a nice idea…but certainly doesn’t happen. Occasionally I include journaling in the quota of writings and feel better about myself because while my journaling is ridiculously infrequent as well, it is somewhat more regular than my creative, non-academic writing.
One question toward the end of the discussion related to plowing through passages particularly difficult to write. This was one of those times when I hear the truth scratched into the back of my hand and suddenly realize it’s there. When you’re stuck, just write through it. Yes, it will likely be crap and needing of overhauling; however, it will propel you through to the other side where you find surer footing. Perhaps you will even come to the realization that the segment you just can’t craft into beauty is unnecessary (and what a waste would it have been to spend hours toiling over how to word it when you could have just blurted your thoughts onto the paper in ten minutes).
Of course I don’t think you can apply this to everything. One said caveat being drafts one must generate for professional or academic purposes. While my stream of consciousness occasionally/rarely produces things of great profundity or brilliance, 10:30 the night before a three page draft is due does not in fact produce genius. I can testify it does produce hilarity and unintentional fragments (I shudder at the thought). At any rate, if Melissa reads the draft, she will be blown out of the water when she sees the final version. I don’t imagine she will miss the (necessary) absence of my correlating soup and teddy bears (which really does make sense if you follow my train of thought. Promise…).