Do you write part time? Do you write for just a few hours a day? Are you writing a spec screenplay a few days a week or month?
If you answered any of these questions in the affirmative you may be losing more time (and creativity) than you think.
When you write you create a “story world” in your mind for every scene you write. This world is made up of the characters and the environment they inhabit.
When initially created, this world may be thin and uncertain. It could even be blank when first starting to write. It takes time to create this story world full of people, places and things, make it solid and real, and get it into motion.
One of the more important things about writing I have learned over the years is that once I’ve solidified this story world in my mind it is important to maintain it. And it is maintained by continuing to write.
The longer you have this story world created in your mind the more real it gets and the easier it becomes to manipulate it. You may find, like I do, that the characters start to talk fluently and things tend to happen easily and fast. If you’re lucky, sometimes the characters will even do the work for you.
But when you stop writing, this story world can slowly vanish. And if you wait long enough before starting to write again it can take time and effort to recreate it all and get it moving again. Sometimes it takes so much effort to rebuild and restart that it stops you completely and you decide it’s not a good time to write.
That’s why it’s important to keep writing. I call it creative momentum.
So when it’s flowing keep it going.
Newton said, “A body in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force.” The world you create in your mind is a virtual “body” and it will stay in motion if you continue to create it. You are the outside force that initiated its motion, and you are the outside force that can stop it...by stopping writing.
I have often finished writing a scene and thought it was time to call it a day. Then I remember this datum of creative momentum and realize all I have to do is start the next scene. Once started it will quickly begin to get rolling and almost tend to pull me along with it.
This brings up another interesting and important corollary datum. There is a tendency, when finishing a scene or sequence, to want to “finish” your writing. You’ve just created an “end of action” in your mind, perhaps so well that you feel the “endness” of it and want to end your writing for the day. Again, all you have to do is start the next scene and the creative momentum will continue.
I have used this simple datum to turn many a “five-page day” into a “twenty-page day”.
By the way, another important lesson I’ve learned about this “story world” is that if you create it effectively there are lots of things in it that are useful in your storytelling.
If you’re writing action or comedy all you need to do is look around in this environment you’ve created for “props”.
For example, if you’re writing a visual comedy sequence on the front lawn of house, take a look around the area and you’ll find sprinklers hiding under the grass that could pop up suddenly and drench your characters, a skateboard waiting to be accidentally stepped on, a boy on a bike ready to smack someone with a newspaper, or a neighbor’s dog ready to chase them down the block.
There’s a ton of stuff lurking in every environment. So don’t try to just pull it out of thin air...take a look around the world you’ve created.
You’ll be amazed at what you find.
©Jeffrey Scott, All Rights Reserved