It’s said that people fear public speaking more than death, meaning that most would rather be in the casket than delivering the eulogy. Much like writing the perfect speech, there can be some fear around creating the perfect script. Screenwriting is a challenge but as much reward as there is… fear abounds. Whether a first-time screenwriter or an experienced pro… uncertainty and doubt manages to find its way into the process.
The Blank Page
One of the most common fears is the blank page. The blinking cursor, the overwhelmingly big task ahead… screenwriters often find themselves in a place of paralysis where the next step seems more like a mountain. How do you conquer that mountain? Start. It seems like a blindingly obvious thing to say but sometimes you’ve just got to write. Good, bad, ugly… get it onto the page. Even if it’s complete garbage, this unburdening will inevitably lead to something and alleviates the sense of futility around staring at that blinking cursor.
Another tip is to make your goals smaller. Instead of thinking of the entirety of the screenplay and project you’re about to embark on, try to plan a list of smaller goals. Instead of writing 10 pages, make your goal 1 page. Instead of dedicating an hour to your endeavour, make it 15 minutes. Still not feeling inspiration welling up? Try to write by free association if nothing arrives in that brain box. Visualise your movie playing out in your head, get the creativity flowing… take a walk around your neighbourhood and be open to inspiration. It’s amazing how great ideas come from some of the most ordinary things.
The Bad Idea
Another fear that crops up when it comes to screenwriting is the bad idea. Whether inception or halfway through the screenwriting process, it’s not uncommon for writers to have doubts about their concept or story idea. The fear derives from casting a critical eye on your own work or getting some disapproving feedback that can send you spiraling. Concern grows from whether your idea is good enough or has foundational issues. While there can be merit to this criticism that can be resolved, it’s the nagging doubt that can hinder your writing.
One way to overpower these negative feelings around your work is to get honest feedback from trusted friends, family, screenwriters or script consultancy services like reviewmyscript.com. Ask for constructive criticism… and ask these people to share what they liked and didn’t like. This process can be reassuring if you’re headed in the right direction and identify things that can make your script better. Remember you don’t have to take every bit of feedback onboard. Consider the source and use your discretion being mindful to set your ego aside. This way you can get excited about your story idea all over again. If it needs further development, remember it’s a series of stepping stones that gets you across the river. If your idea isn’t going to win an Oscar, take heart… you can still make something memorable and wonderful even if your film isn’t entirely original.