INT. A STUDY – NIGHT. A WRITER sits in front of a laptop, eager face illuminated by the glow from the screen. A masterpiece is in progress!
CUT TO: the same writer, sitting in front of the same laptop, days/weeks/MONTHS later, unable to recall the first flush of enthusiasm that set them on this crazy journey…
Sound familiar? It probably is to most of us at some time or another – that sinking feeling when you turn the laptop on and just CAN’T BE ARSED to even open the file, let alone write anything. Your creative get up and go has got up and gone. How can you get it back?
First of all, you need to work out WHY you’ve lost your mojo. In my experience, it can be down to 1 of 3 things:
You no longer like the concept;
You’re stuck at a certain point of your script;
Your creative juices have dried up.
The good news is – all of these can be solved!
1) You hate your concept.
Well, you obviously liked it to begin with, so what’s changed? Has it become obvious as you write that it’s not going to work? No? So what inspired you to come up with that concept in the first place? Why THAT story, written by YOU? Rediscover what excited you about this project and your motivation will follow.
If of course you’ve discovered that it’s NOT going to work – put it to one side. Don’t bin it, but put it on hold and work on another project. You might be able to work it out, or it might become the germ of something else. Sometimes stepping away is the only solution.
2) You’re stuck. You’ve got to a certain point, written yourself into a corner and have no idea how to get yourself out of it.
Go back to your outline. Find the next big plot point or beat AFTER the bit you’re stuck at, or just the next bit that you’re really looking forward to writing, and write that. ENJOY writing it. Then write backwards! Go back and fill in the gap. It doesn’t even matter if it’s rubbish at this point, just write it, get it out of the way, and go back and fix it in the edit. THIS WORKS. I’ve done it myself.
3) Your creative juices have dried up.
This happens to all of us. Real life intrudes, the day job wears you out – the last thing you feel like doing is writing, and when you finally do guilt yourself into turning the computer on, the words just won’t come.
So don’t force them (like you could anyway). Do something else creative around the project, so you don’t tie yourself up in knots because you’re not working. A huge part of writing is THINKING about your project. So think about it! Think about your dream cast; find photographs of the perfect locations. Find a song that encapsulates the story or the mood; maybe a theme tune for your protagonist (I did this for one of my screenplays and came to the conclusion I want the Prodigy to score the entire movie). Can you use Photoshop? Make a movie poster. Have you got iMovie on your Mac? Then make a trailer or sizzle reel – I’ve done this using footage downloaded off YouTube, spliced together with music over the top (this is probably hugely illegal, but I’m not using it to promote my script or even showing it to anyone else, it’s just for me). This is kind of like putting together a multi-media mood board. And it’s FUN! It also has the added bonus of making you think VISUALLY about your script, which is something writers often have difficulty with as we tend to be in love with words over action.
The main thing is: don’t panic. Don’t be hard on yourself. Sometimes, just giving yourself a day off to go out and do something different is all you need. But if that doesn’t work, try the above and YOU WILL GET THROUGH IT! I promise.