The only thing harder than WRITING…

…is NOT writing.

I’ve learned this firsthand, as I’ve battled a months-long bout of…

Grade-A, Top-Shelf, Primo, First-Class Writer’s Block.

And I know it’s been awhile since we’ve chatted. (Many of you reached out to me to ask if I was okay.)

If I was still alive.

If I had been absconded by ninjas hired by Michael Bay...and held in an underground bunker, miles below the planet surface.

WISH it was that cool.

Truth is, and I’ve shared this with a few people, the past few months I’ve been caring full-time for my terminally-ill mom battling Stage 4 Liver Cancer.

Which is hard enough on its own. (I feel for anybody who’s gone through that. Cancer is a bastard.)

And I was prepared for the emotional roller coaster.

And the sleepless nights.

And the hours spent in doctor’s offices and Kaiser pharmacy lines…

…and that horrible, dread feeling that you DON’T have control over anything. (Hard for OCD, control-freaks like me.)

What I wasn’t prepared for was…writer’s block.

No, worse than writer’s block.

 

Writer’s dread.

That whole questioning: “What’s the point of writing?”

I mean, we spend all these hours slaving over our script pages, and for what…?

So, we can MAYBE have somebody validate our talent by purchasing the script.

And then MAYBE have some sociopathic studio head turn our story into an action-figure marketing funnel.

And then MAYBE, if it actually gets released, we can have some apathetic audience members, too distracted by their cell phone, to actually be moved by our story.

Like I said, writer’s dread.

zen_and_the_art_of_screenwriting

I tried every NLP, Zen Buddhist TRICK in the book.

I bribed myself with tortilla chips and Trader Joe’s salsa.

I promised to LET myself watch Vampire Diaries. (Again.)

I chained myself to my Office Depot ergonomic chair if I could only break through resistance or karma or inertia or my profound laziness or my bipolar ADD-inflicted brain…

…and JUST write something!

And every time I tried to write a new scene, or write you guys a new rant about the film business…I just froze.

I just couldn’t see an end game. A POINT to all this mental and physical effort.

And as my mom’s illness took a turn for the worse, I had the notion to blow off this whole ScriptBully thing, and say, “You know what scripty-types…

“It’s been fun. But I don’t think I have anything more to say.”

And that’s what I would have done, if not for one of the last conversations I had with my mom before she passed away.

I asked her, looking back on her life, if she would have done anything differently. (You know, besides NOT marry my father.)

And that’s when she asked me to find a small black box hidden in the back of her closet.

Inside that box was a letter, dated March 4, 1954, which informed her she had been accepted into a San Francisco art school.

And underneath the letter was an unused one-way Amtrak Train ticket from San Diego Union Station to downtown San Francisco.

I was shocked. I had no idea my mom had gotten into art school. Or was even that interested in painting.

But instead of jumping on that train — and starting a whole new creative, Bohemian life — she let her parents talk her into doing something more practical.

Screenwriter_Life_on_Train

So she went to secretary school. She learned shorthand. And typing. And Toastmistress.

And became an executive assistant at San Diego Gas and Electric.

But the creative part of herself kept that train ticket, and her dream of being an artist, in a small black box near the back of her closet.

She told me her only regret was NOT getting on that train.

And that’s when I realized the point of art or creativity or writing is not to sell a screenplay or become famous or make lots of money or write the best damn screenplay ever.

It is simply to get ON the train.

To go WHERE the journey of writing takes you.

And find out where, and who, you’ll end up being at the end.

Carl Jung once said: “Nothing has a stronger influence on a child than the unlived life of a parent.”

And I firmly believe that.

I think my whole drive behind ScriptBully has been to inspire and motivate you to take a chance on yourself, and your talent, to see what kick-ass, magical places you might end up.

It’s a lesson, though, that I could use myself from time to time.

And one I hope you’ll take to heart, long before you put away that train ticket in the back of the closet.

[Do you have a story about writer’s block or creative adversity? I’d love to hear about in the comments!]

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About The Author

Michael Rogan
Editor, ScriptBully Magazine
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Michael Rogan is a former screenplay reader and optioned screenwriter. He is also the founder and editor-in-chief of ScriptBully magazine, and has written a few non-sucky books including "How to Write a Book That Doesn't Suck (and Will Actually Sell)". He has made it his mission to help screenwriters kick ass - and rid the world of films based on action-figure lines.

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One Response

  1. Jonathan

    Mike.. thank you SO much for sharing this.. And no I don’t have writer’s block though I did for about a month or more but broke through it and finished the third rewrite of my first script. But the other VERY important thing here is the message you’re communicating which is EXACTLY the theme of the story in my script. “Life BEGINS at the edge of your comfort zone”.. Fear ONLY exists in our minds and by fearing ANYTHING it results in resistance in all its ugly forms. Steve Pressfield, author of “The Legend of Bagger Vance” wrote a great book JUST about this topic called “The War of Art”..It’s amazing and isn’t JUST for writers.. Again, I’m TRULY grateful you filled us in and shared your message.

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