The Most Productive Procrastination


9tk2aq5

So I finished the rough draft of a novel, and I find it increasingly difficult to focus on anything else.

There’s a screenplay I should be writing right now. I started this thing called “Shut Up and Write”. The idea behind it is that you get four randomized screenplay ideas, created by randomly drawing note cards with actors, genres, professions and locations, and the combining those into little idea clusters, and then you write a screenplay with no planning, no personal stake, and no strings attached.

The idea is to not care if it’s good. The idea is to shut the fuck up and write.

A lot of people worry that what they’re creating is good. I don’t have this worry, because I don’t write anything that I wouldn’t want to read. Therefore, the first fan of almost everything I write is myself, and so I’m almost always confident that something in any project I’m working on has merit.

This isn’t a delusion. I’m also pretty good about abandoning projects that aren’t working. I don’t incinerate them, though. I just put them on whatever is behind the back burner. Anything I’m interested has something cool about it, and at the very least I can cannibalize the ideas from a failed project for a new one. Maybe this scene is nice, but it would work better in this story. This character would be more fun here. Etc.

But a lot of people, especially people who haven’t written as much as I have, never get passed development because they spend all their writing time worrying about if what they came up with is good.

This is unacceptable.

Something about it is good, because you are a consumer of media and have a very discerning taste, whatever that may be. You know what you like and, unless you are Ted Bundy or something, there’s probably a group of people out there who like what you like too.

Novels exist that are basically big foot rape fantasies. They are, quite literally, about young women who wander into the woods and get raped by big foot. I have read one before, and it was horrible. Horrible in that it was morally horrible and also just poorly made.

There’s an audience for it. At one point, Virginia Wade was pulling in sixteen to twenty thousand dollars a month from her erotic big foot stories.TWENTY THOUSAND. A MONTH.

If there’s an audience for that, then there’s an audience for whatever the fuck you want to write about.

And I think that’s why I like writing. Sure, I hate Big Bang Theory. I don’t like Cum For Bigfoot.

But someone else does.

And the fact that I don’t like it doesn’t make the fact that they like it any less valid.

Who am I to say that Big Bang Theory is a garbage show full of stupid, not funny garbage jokes? No one, that’s who.

So goal one of shut up and write is this: just write. The die is cast on the first of January, and everyone will shame you if you don’t finish. Who cares if it’s bad? There’s something in there that isn’t.

There’s something in there that’s good.

That’s the second goal. We write, we don’t care and then we celebrate.

A lot of times when I get notes, I think people are too critical. I’m not trying to cushion the notes i receive by shouting “you’re mean and you’re wrong” to whoever gave them to me, but I think a good note is when you try to figure out what the writer wants to do, and then help them achieve that, rather than saying that something is merely bad. Everything is there for a reason. It’s your job as a note giver to figure out what the reason is, and then think about what you are going to say rather than giving your first gut reaction.

I see gut reactions so many times in notes. Gut reactions are seldom useful.

So we don’t give notes for Shut Up and Write. It’s the only time in the year we won’t give notes. Instead, we celebrate. We’re going to have a big party, where the wine and beer will hopefully flow like the Mississippi, and we will read the writer’s favorite scenes from their work.

We’ll assign characters, goof around, and laugh. Then we all clap and take a drink.

This isn’t softening the blow, though it may seem like it. If someone wants notes, they can send me their screenplay and I’ll give it the ol’ ruthless treatment. Instead, this is encouragement. Everyone needs encouragement, probably even Cormac McCarthy and JK Rowling. Hell, probably even Stephen King.

So that’s what we do.

And here I am, writing a blog post.

The cards I finally settled on were: Tom Hardy, The Everglades, Psychiatrist and Mockumentary.

I love Mockumentaries.

I love Tom Hardy.

I love the everglades.

This one practically writes itself.

Practically.

The practically is very important.

So here I am. I’ve got to head to work in three hours, and I’m participating in the most productive form of procrastination.

I’m writing a blog post.

I don’t really believe in New Years resolutions, but the first is as good a date as any to start something new.

So I’m going to try to blog twice a month.

Calm down, it’s only so I can trick you guys into buying my book later.

Ay yi yi… this post is a quagmire.

Maybe that’s my point, though.

Look at this mess above you.

I hope it’s a beautiful mess, because something other than procrastination gave me this idea.

There’s a kernel of gold among the mud. Can you find it?

I’m not sure I can, but it’s there.

So I’ll leave you with this:

I’m not sure what you’re doing on this Sunday, or whatever day it is when you read this, but today is your day.

There’s a new David Bowie album out.

The sun is shining, at least here in Los Angeles.

You’ve got some free hours.

Don’t fuck around online.

Don’t watch TV. TV is dumb.

Don’t read Cum for Bigfoot.

Don’t clean.

Don’t ___ .

Shut up.

Just Shut Up And Write.

And now….

Well…

And now, I think I’ll take my own advice.

And Shia’s advice, too.

 

I’m Back


terminator

I’d hit a rough patch about four weeks ago. Hit it so hard I think the wheel came off.

It wasn’t writer’s block. I don’t believe in writer’s block. Writer’s block is simply you not having fun with whatever you’re writing. It’s a blanket explanation, I know, but not having fun could come from dozens of hard to pen down causes. Things like: lack of research, wrong direction, stinkin’ thinkin’, and getting bored with a project.

I didn’t have any of those. I was working on WARLOCK COP, my TV PILOT about a guy who is a COP and a WARLOCK. WARLOCK COP is awesome. I was having fun writing it but…

I just couldn’t focus. I’d find myself drifting away, checking reddit, watching videos on woodcarving and guitar fabrication. Hell, I’d watch videos of other people playing video games.

I’d go on facebook and just scroll around. I’d write blog post around blog post. I’d fiddle with my fantasy football lineup without end.

I’d do all these things and then sit back and go “huh. I should finish warlock cop.”

I never did, though.

Then the internet went down.

I was outside, smoking my pipe and writing down ideas in a notebook when it happened.  There was a truck working on the power lines outside.  I heard screwdrivers and electric sizzles as the worked the pole next to my apartment building.

They finished after some time. My notepad was on the floor. The only markings on the page were pipe ash.

I was busy reading movie reviews on my phone.

Then, suddenly, the next page wouldn’t load. The WiFi wasn’t working. I switched to the LTE network and finished reading the movie review, and then checked the router.

It was working fine, just no signal. I unplugged it and plugged it back in.

It didn’t work.

The first tinglings of fear began to creep up the hairs on my back.

“It’s not supposed to happen like this,” I told the router, “this isn’t supposed to be possible.”

No internet. A millenial’s worst nightmare.

My life is spent on the internet. I pay my bills online. I get paid electronically. I find jobs, send queries, submit stories to magazines, and even write blog posts entirely on the internet. Hell, I get my television, movies, and entertainment form the internet.

The internet turns me into a sappy Nicholas Sparks story. I want to cuddle the internet, stoke its face and tell it “I’m nothing without you. Nothing.”

It was gone.

What was I going to do? What was I going to read? What was I going to WATCH?

Here’s out movie collection:

IMG_1217

The thought of putting any of them in the blu-ray player disgusted me.

I had nothing to do.

So I wrote.

The first day, I figured out the ending to WARLOCK COP.

Unplug, plug, the router still flashed red.

The second day, I wrote fourteen pages.

I fell to my knees and prayed in front of the router, extolling it with livestock sacrifice. It remained silent, and blinked its wicked red eye at me.

The third day, I wrote fourteen pages.

I itched all over. I had trouble sleeping without being able to doze off with south park on my TV.

While I was downstairs getting coffee, I ran into Adrienne, who is staying at my place until the end of the month. I told her how productive I’ve been.

“I guess it was all the internet,” I said, slurping on some hot-brown-bean water, “I kind of hope it stays down so I can finish my script.

Adrienne agreed.

The fourth day, I woke up to a text message from Jared. It just said “Internets up!”

Shit.

The next thing I knew, I found myself in my computer chair, about to hit enter and blast my monitor off to REDDIT land.

My finger hovered over the key.

I went downstairs to get some bean water. Adrienne and Jared were watching the Real World and Road Rules MTC Challenge.

“So the internet’s back up.” I told them.

Adrienne spun to face me. There was fire in her eyes. “No,” she said, “get back upstairs right now and finish WARLOCK COP.” I turned to get coffee. “No,” Adrienne commanded, “write.”

So I went back upstairs and finished it.

The internet’s an amazing thing. I don’t need to tell you guys why, because you’re on it right now, you already know.

Sometimes, though, it makes writing impossible.

So I guess I need to find a place to write that doesn’t have internet.

Either that, or find someone to yell at me every time I start to dither online.

Maybe this guy.

batman write

 

%d bloggers like this: