After speaking on the importance of scenes and actions in crafting a screenplay, I’ll speak on a writer’s worst enemy – the dreaded writer’s block. Today’s blog will focus on the symptoms and causes of this creative plague. Writer’s block can lead to a depressive state in your writing process.
According to the website Mental Health Daily,
The phenomenon was first documented in 1947 by Edmund Bergler, a psychoanalyst… Anyone can end up with writer’s block, even talented writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald have been noted to struggle with this condition. The condition was researched throughout the 1970s and 1980s and specifically focused on the process and post-process theories of composition.
Like any form of writing, screenwriting is no exception as mental blocks can come at the most inopportune moments. When I originally wrote my pilot, I was writing the last two acts for my screenwriting class when I decided to push myself due to outside obligations. I couldn’t concentrate as my mind raced at top speed. In short, I ended writing those acts at 2 AM after a crazy concert. My creative juices were flowing, and I had to capture them before sleep and fatigue settled in.
In that spirit, I’ll break down some of the warning signs and causes of writer’s block.
Brain fog – This dreaded cohort of writer’s block always appears when you in the midst of creating your latest masterpiece. You feel like your brain is working against you as your concentration and productivity slow down to a screeching halt amongst a cloudy atmosphere. It can lead to a major delay in your writing process.
Lack of focus – As either an offset of brain fog or a casualty of distraction, focusing on a story can be a daunting task as outside forces seem to constantly vie for your attention. A wandering mind can take your attention away from your passion for writing.
Lack of inspiration – Have you ever been in the midst of or starting to writing your screenplay, and found yourself not feeling or lacking direction in your work? Of course, we all have. Sometimes, you find yourself writing something that just doesn’t speak to your soul and heart. That can be a major dilemma, especially when dealing with a tight deadline.
Frustration – Another writer’s block cohort popping up when writing shouldn’t a stress but a labor of love. Often times this comes up when you need to write but can’t put words to pen or computer screen. You end up in this negative cycle of doubt and creative restriction.
Over analyzing and over thinking – As a creative, your work becomes a child of your writing process, but sometimes, a writer’s worst enemies – self-doubt and fear – can creep up and cause you to rethink everything you’ve written. You begin comparing your screenplay to that of your peers or industry veterans and scrutinizing every single word you have on the page or screen.
Anxiety – Again, a writer’s worst enemies – self-doubt and fear – can lead to some very intense moments as you begin looking over your work. Breathing gets shallow, mind races and heart palpitations set in as this silent foe begins overwhelming all your senses and body. You feel completely out-of-control and unable to write.
Emotional fatigue – Life outside of writing can be draining – physically, mentally and emotionally – leading to a lack of creativity and mental blocks. The latter comes when your words lack the emotional fortitude your character needs. The lack of connection and a slow mental process can leave you filling unfulfilled and unmotivated.
Lack of motivation – Once in the thick of emotional fatigue, your determination and ambition seem to drift to the wayside as lethargy and low mental fortitude set in. Being unmotivated can the biggest mountain to climb as when it comes to writing a screenplay. An already daunting task can become almost impossible.
Stress – This negative force can be a major hindrance in the writing process. Sometimes, stress can go beyond the thinking process and impede on complex cognitive functions like writing a screenplay. Outside forces like daily life, family problems or relationships can render the idea of screenwriting as more of an overwhelming task than a creative outlet.
Even though the condition has been studied, it has become a controversial subject as many individuals, including writers, have begun to question the validity of writer’s block in recent years. I’ll just say that writing no matter the medium can be a huge undertaking especially in a short amount of time, but I’ll leave that debate up to you – the audience.
In reading this post, I hope you won’t feel alone in the battle against writer’s block. But this isn’t the end of the conversation, you can leave comments below and discuss this even more with your fellow screenwriters along with myself.
Come back later this week to read about some cures for writer’s block.