29 January 2009

do what you do

I was reminded (again) this week how often the simple truths seem to elude us, or -- worse -- quietly tiptoe away and hide themselves even after we've already learned these truths once or ten times before (usually at the expense of some humiliation or personal pain).

I am a screenwriter. By that I mean "I write screenplays." The fact that I have yet to actually sell a screenplay remains just an annoying detail in this tragicomic opera. The central point is I write.

Except, you'd be amazed at how easy it is to somehow forget that or lose sight of that. To think that somehow the actual, ya know, "writing" part of "screenwriting" just sorta magically happens -- unseen, unnoticed and on its own, kinda like grass growing. Instead of chaining yourself to the keyboard, you fret and fiddle with all the various other semi-related aspects of the game rather than the core critical tasks.

Such behavior is, of course, high-grade idiocy. Self-delusion of the most destructive sort, for you have no real business in expecting to enjoy much success unless you remember to actually DO what you DO.

Eyes on the prize... Focus on the goal... Know your role... Dance with the one that brung ya....

All of these are variations on the same underlying theme: that in any task, there is that simple undeniable part of the task which **is** the task.

Fire fighter.

Lion tamer.

Pole dancer.

Ditch digger.

Screen writer.

We can find ourselves distracted and diluted by all sorts of perfectly sensible-seeming side ventures and secondary tasks -- the classic "vacuuming before finals" behavior where we become almost desperate to find a legitimate justification for not actually doing what it is we most need to be doing. It's a nasty dangerous habit. One that I find myself prone to far too often and too easily.

So it feels good to look up and get back on-task. To resume course and get back to basics, to take care of job one so that even if none of those cute and amusing secondary tasks are addressed, you still can look back at the day's efforts and realize that you did some good.

So today's scripture lesson is simple. "Do what you do."

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

dominus vobiscum B


T.C. Jakobsen said...

Relevant point.

I always carry a notebook and a pen.

Though, I believe there's a danger in over-emphasizing the 'writing', as what we do is only remotely related to literature. In my experience a lot of scriptwriters writes too much and construct to little.

As a consultant on film project I often find myself wishing that the writers had waited writing their first draft until they were sure about their underlying construction. Write synopsis, write outlines, write treatments, but wait with first draft.

I know myself how tempting it is to just dive into writing the scenes. In a way it is easier for me than the other pre-forms, but you'll end up in a mess.

Warren said...

Good God, is this blog still here?

Ironically, I've actually been paid to do three of the five jobs listed in your post.

Hope all is well!