Writers’ Block. It’s a killer. We’ve all been there, happily tapping away at the keyboard at our latest and greatest movie script in a creative stream of consciousness when suddenly we reach a dead end. A brick wall faces us and we have nowhere to turn. We try idea after idea but nothing makes any sense. We start to get frustrated but can’t give up because it’s such an important scene. Damn! We have to solve this. The pressure mounts. And mounts.. But nothing. Nada. Zip.
“What am I gonna do?!” we think or perhaps exclaim out loud.
The whole script hinges on this particular plot point or piece of dialogue. If we can’t solve this we might as well trash the script. Oh my God, I’m never gonna get that friggin’ Oscar! Okay, okay, calm down. Really, dude. Take a breath. It’s not that bad. There is a solution. All hope is not lost.. even though it may feel like it.
So, the solution.. what is it? Simple. Actually, there are three:
1. STEP AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER!
That’s right, folks, sometimes we get so caught up in the moment and our own self-imposed frustration that our mind ceases up and can’t process clearly. The best thing to do in those situations is to take a break and do something else. The script’s still going to be there when you get back. I usually make myself a coffee and watch some TV. Other times I take out the trash or put the washing on. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. It’s simply the fact that you focus your mind on something other than writing for a while and this unclogs everything and gets the creative juices flowing again.
It works. Trust me. Been there, done that. In fact, most of my best creative writing ideas have come away from the computer. It’s the same principle as setting yourself a problem to solve as your head hits the pillow at night and then waking up the next morning with a clear head and 90% of the time a solution. Somehow our subconscious brains keep on working behind the scenes and help us out.
2. MOVE ON TO ANOTHER SCENE
That’s right. If you can’t figure out the solution just move on to the next scene or rewrite an earlier scene. It’s the same principle yet again. By doing this you will be opening your mind to new ideas which will undoubtedly present themselves once you have disengaged from the stumbling block in question. Sometimes focusing on another issue is the answer. Sometimes you may not get an answer right away but don’t stress yourself out by creating even more pressure, that’s just counterproductive.
3. REWRITE THE SCENE FROM A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE
Your third option is to rewind a few pages and then attack the troublesome scene from a new angle. If the hero in the original draft jumps into his car and goes to the bank in order to confront his adulterous wife, maybe he is forced to take the bus because his car won’t start. Maybe he has an accident on the way and ends up in the emergency ward. Maybe he gets to the bank and she’s not there. You see where I’m going here? All of these ideas will give you new avenues to explore and whether or not they will end up in the final screenplay is not the point, it’s the process that is important.