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Friday, August 22, 2008


I seem to have hit upon a pensive sort of phase this week and while it's normally a good thing, I just can't seem to get the words that I want to get out of my head (and I'm second-guessing the ones that do manage to sneak through).

On the bright side, I got a package in the mail today, it seems my books have arrived (yay Internet!). I'm not expecting them to solve all my problems, but its a good excuse for me to hunker down and ask myself what I'm really trying to accomplish with my spec - I'm thinking something along the lines of getting myself a job as a Junior Writer in a writing room right now. And, yes, I'm quite happy working my way up the ladder - there's a few holes I've still got to fill in to make up for my rather... uh... informal training (or lack thereof).

What I find interesting though is that there's been quite a large amount of talk about how a lot of Showrunners prefer to read Spec Pilots as opposed to spec scripts - to see about what a writer is capable of when given free reign. Of course, I love that idea, but I've also got to challenge myself to learn about format and other technical details. Sure the 'technical' side of things may not be as much fun for me, but knowing how to re-attach a limb (let alone knowing where the limb goes) is going to be integral to me as things press forward.

Now, not that I'm incompetent or anything, but understanding the system, understanding why something works the way it does seems to help me absorb things (one of the reasons I was never all that great at math, my teachers always pointed to the textbooks rather than taking an interest and showing us 'why' a+b=c... but I digress...).

Once I have a fundamental understanding of how and why 2+2=4 then I don't have to think about it anymore, I just do it. It becomes engrained. Right now, I've got a bunch of information stored up here but I haven't quite figured out how to make the pieces fit.

Most of the stuff that I've written, that people have enjoyed, have 'felt' right to me. I've got a good sense of when something's off, but don't ask me why or to identify it. And that's what I'm working to fix right now (and have been over the last while). Some of the process is boring me to tears - breaking things down into individual beats and writing outlines - but I know it's an essential part of the process and one that I have to learn.

The hardest thing about it, changing the WAY you write, is that it introduces rules and such when you're used to well... doing whatever it is that you do. The rules help to explain things and I know that they're all made to be broken, but I'm at that weird point right now where they seem to be looming over me. And the funny thing is it's not even the individual 'rules' themselves, just the actual concept - that I must try and stay within them - that's making me second-guess decisions that I'd normally never think about.

Of course this is entirely self-inflicted on my part, I'm putting myself through this voluntarily and it's my own fear of the unknown that's holding me back. I know, like pretty much any other 'rule' that governs my life, that once I make my peace with them they'll fade away. But, still, my brain is fighting hard to reject the 'limitations' and, heh, I'm barely even started (in the grand scheme of things).

I have to thank Cherelle for making me blush with her fantastic cheerleading and insight - she's contributed a great little mantra that I'm going to use to help me keep on track:

"Imagine when you can understand HOW you do what you do, and how you can MAKE yourself write well on command. There is no Muse. There is only you!"

Thanks all, I'm being borderline neurotic today and you're taking it like a champ.


1 comment:

DMc said...

Brandon, it's a disaster if you get to "develop" your own tone before you replicate others.

I had specs for CHEERS, and WONDER YEARS, and THIRTYSOMETHING that I never showed a soul. And good thing too. They were terrible. (Except for the Wonder Years one...I kind of liked that one.)

Before you become Mr. Tough Skin Writer with your own stuff, you need to attenuate. That's what you do by trying to replicate another writer's voice. Don't worry about those who suggest you need to "strike out" and put your own voice out there...these are not what we call "serious people."

There is a change afoot, dood. Work the craft. stay frosty and serious. That will help you. The rest is B.S.