Riding the Roller Coaster Again

For quite a few weeks I’ve been taking a screenwriting class at UCLA. When I first started I wondered what exactly I would get out of it. I knew I needed it. I just didn’t know how much. I was having issues with my scripts but without any experience or insight by others, I thought I was merely going through what others go through. I simply had to push through it. However there was a time when it just wasn’t feeling right. Something wasn’t clicking inside of my gut that things were operating on all cylinders. That is when I decided I was letting ego get in the way and needed to seek help. It was the best thing I could have done.

One of the best lessons I have learned is: “Work smarter not harder”. It has served me greatly in my work as a Software Engineer as well as a normal guy that is asked to fix every computer, phone or gizmo that some friend, family member or girlfriend is having an issue with. What I learned was I was working harder and NOT smarter when it came to writing. In order to work smarter you have to know how things can be done. Otherwise how would you know the possible ways to do something smarter? I only knew one way and that was the way I was doing it. It didn’t matter if it was the best or fastest or even smartest way. It was the only way. Well that’s just plain stupid.

What I started to learn in class was the other ways one could write. Let me rephrase that, what I learned was how a working screenwriter that gets paid for his work goes about creating it. Not the type of bullshit you read in a book. But the nuts and bolts and nitty gritty of each particular step that had or should be taken. What came later was not what I was expecting. Writer’s block. Sitting there staring at a blank page or worse starting to go down a path for the last few hours only to rip it up and throw it away when you reread it.

I was frustrated beyond belief. I typed an email to my teacher expressing my frustrating and sent it with thoughts of quitting and other self doubt. The response I got from my teacher was simple, “Welcome to being a writer”. It was then I learned I was going through the same things that others do. No longer am I fighting a fight that I don’t need to but I’m fighting the dragon that every artist deals with. The fight you need to be fighting. That is finding the art in the artist.

There have been some good days and bad days. More often than not there have been bad days with trying to write. However it was very recently, last week actually, that I made a breakthrough. Problems I was having with my story, not seeing things, characters or story…started to fall into place. I started to see the big picture and not only was I seeing it, I was liking it and starting to see how to craft it to what I wanted it to be. Knowing how life works I know this isn’t permanent. This will change and I will find myself fallen off the peak of inspiration and into the valley of blank pages. At that point I hope I will also remember that will also not last forever and soon I will be back on the path back up to the peak that I am at currently.

Which isn’t that all that life is? A ride to visit the peaks and valleys of ones life. I think I’m going to treat it like a roller coaster. Because the entire time I’m on it, I’m smiling. Even when I get off the ride, I’m smiling. Looking around at others asking them, “Want to do it again?”

Everyone should be living in a way that when they are at the end of their ride, they are not only asking that same question, they are answering, Yes.