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Stories from a seasoned screenwriter. Take heart! Your creative source is infinite and un-ending. Sometimes Hollywood just rips up the roadmap back to it. The bottom line is that Hollywood is not at all as bad as it sounds. Additionally, it's worse than you can imagine. Remember to pack a sense of humor.


I am a screenwriter living in Southern California. I've written screenplays for most of the Hollywood studios over the past 20 years. One of the uncredited writers of FANTASTIC FOUR, I wrote FIRE DOWN BELOW starring Steven Seagal, and the TV Movie 12:01 PM starring Martin Landau and MANEATER with Gary Busey. I have directed short films. I have written on numerous Hollywood studio assignments, some for big shot actors, some for small shot nobodies.

Friday, January 13, 2006

The Many Deaths of a Writer

You'll feel it as you work, and an idea slips away, or a perfect structure suddenly tangles.

You'll feel it as months of hard work stares back at you and feels empty.

Or when you soldier on through that despair and hit the elation that comes from breathing true life into the once empty vessel and then getting your first ream of notes about how the hero isn't likeable, the story takes too long to get going, and the villain isn't working.

Writing alone in a little room, poor and hungry is bad enough. Writing professionally and being lanced regularly like an annoying boil makes the poor and hungry thing seem romantic.

Until you remember being poor and hungry and how that's really much less romantic in hindsight.

What makes it romantic? Staying true to your vision. Trusting your judgement. Letting the story shine through you.

These are the moments of the phoeonix when the death every writer experiences on any number of days is turned into new life.

It's the thing new writers can appreciate now, before they have to look back and appreciate it.

It's the thing veteran writers need to stay in touch with, as the re-write, adaptation and endless variations thereof require them to dig deep to their source, the spring where the new material comes from, and let that inspire their demands of the craft.

This profession has many deaths, daily, weekly, yearly. It needs to have many lives and re-births as well to keep one's talent blade sharp.

Find that thing that feeds your pheonix. New work not based on source material. Parallel work (poetry, book), music (composing or playing - that's my trick), painting, clay - what have you. Hell, just go to the gym or ride a bike to start if you're not doing tha tnow.

Creating is messy, demanding and thrilling. It shouldn't be endlessly controlled, contoured, adjusted, tweaked and strangled. Make sure you haven't put all your creative energy into one basket that will be blundgeoned to death regularly.

If you're channeling your creative fire into a creative profession, make sure you're feeding it too.


Blogger MaryAn Batchellor said...

Tragically, I'm not following this. New writers need to appreciate being poor and hungry before the death of that romance?

Friday, January 13, 2006  
Blogger Philip Morton said...

Well - I guess what I'm saying is, when I was poor and hungry, and I would write, it was a great experience to lose myself in the creative world and that joy brought me relief from my other stuff. That feeling is one we should all connect to, and never let go of regardless of where we are. If you create from that place, that energy is contagious - I believe it goes straight into the story telling.

Friday, January 13, 2006  
Blogger Gilman said...

Writing professionally and being poor and hungry are not mutually exclusive. The thing that feeds my phoenix is a decent paycheque. The trouble is, I don't get very many of them.

Sunday, January 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

one creative hobby that's easy to do these days and will definitely help you as a screenwriter is video editing. they are very similar in some ways, but obviously different, and I feel that editing makes me a stronger screenwriter and storyteller overall.

Monday, February 13, 2006  

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