I feel rather remiss at neglecting this blog lately. In January, because I was writing a series of daily exercises, I was posting every day. Now that I’m back to my more erratic schedule, it feels like I’m being lax.
So much of my life at the moment is about reading, writing, and watching films that there is little time to cram in my observations about this, and keep up with the daily grind of mundane tasks and jobs I have to accomplish.
My thoughts about this process are no more important than any other person. I find it useful to discuss some of these issues as it forces me to really articulate my thoughts. I think constantly about the creative process. In particular what works for me, and what doesn’t. I’m beginning to figure that all out now. The only way to do that is to write, experiment, and try new approaches.
Doing a MA in a creative endeavour is a difficult beast. You are bombarded with the various theories about how to write (screenplays in this instance), and the best way to embark upon it. Some of it is useful, and some of it is damaging. The good aspect about doing it in this manner is that you are forced to examine new ways to put a story together. I’ve looked at my writing from angles I wouldn’t have considered before.
This is only useful as long as you figure out when to discard advice that doesn’t work, or worse, hinders your writing. It’s a discovery of your own character. It can be difficult to sort through what appears to be conflicting advice when you are unsure of your own artistic direction.
At some point you just know. It’s not that you no longer listen, but you possess a tuning fork that resonates with good advice, and is horribly discordant when you are told something contrary to your methodology. The best way to arrive at this point is to write.
It is the classic struggle: what to junk, what to keep, and what to put in the “mostly doesn’t work but it may have merit at some point in the future”.
I try my utmost to keep an open mind about everything. I am surprised at the number of times I hear writers make dogmatic statements about styles of writing, genres of films, and writers/actors/directors. It strikes me that a rigid approach to a subject is anathema to a writer. Not that I’m a saint; I have my prejudices, but I try to confront them and question the reasons for them. Some stand up to interrogation, and others don’t.
At the moment I feel that I’ve turned a corner in my journey of self-discovery. It has been hard-fought. I’ve been through dreadful self-doubt and confusion. I’m sure more awaits me. I suspect that it is only through working through such painful periods of black despair that you advance as an artist.