Screenwriter Zachary Rowell has come a long way since he first started his 90-day screenplay Challenge on October 1. He has three and a half weeks left to finish his feature-length script, and he’s more than halfway there. Zachary won SoCreate’s “So, Write Your Bills Away” Sweepstakes, which awards him $3,000 per month for three months, as long as he writes 30 pages every 30 days.
Last week, he shared 60 pages of “Still Water Runs Deep” with us, and we’re happy to report, it is a great script, and we can’t wait to see where the story ends!
Zachary has three and a half weeks left to wrap things up. Meanwhile, he’s sharing his latest vlog update with the writing community to talk about lessons learned during this process. This week, he knocks down the wall on the topic of writer’s block and tells you the simple trick he uses to motivate himself to continue putting words on the page.
“Hello, and welcome to another edition of the weekly blogs. It’s the week after Thanksgiving, so hopefully, everyone had a good Thanksgiving. The day before Thanksgiving, I got a call from the producer who was interested in my “VIDEO RENTAL” script, which is a workplace comedy about the last video rental store in Alaska. It’s one I sent into SoCreate. And he sent me an article about CBS or NBC picking up a sitcom called “The Last Video Store.” It’s an ensemble workplace comedy revolving around Calvin, who returns home to run the last video rental store of a once-major video rental franchise with his estranged best friend. So, obviously, it’s not a super original idea, so more than one person can think of it. I found it funny that their lead person is named Calvin, and Calvin, of course, is the main character in the script that I’m writing now. So, yeah. Funny stuff. I don’t know if that’s going to hurt my chances for "VIDEO RENTAL," but that’s why it’s good to not rely on just one script. You’ve got to keep writing. You’ve got to have multiple scripts. One script is not going to knock down any doors for you. Or, it might, but then what do you have after that? You can’t survive on one script.
So, yeah. I thought that was a little fun update to share with you all.
Now to talk a little about writer’s block today. It’s something we all experience. Some people have different views on it. Are you actually blocked from writing? Or, what’s going on there? Is it physical? Is it mental? Obviously, it’s a mental thing, and I think it comes from not the act of writing itself – I think you could still write – but I think you're too critical probably. That’s in my experience, at least. When I just can’t write, it’s because anything I write just reads like garbage to me, and so I don’t want to continue writing, and so I just get stuck, and I don’t write. So, that would be my first suggestion to avoid falling into that trap. Just write. Write and don’t even read what you’re writing. There will be plenty of time to rewrite or improve on whatever it is that you put on the page. But just start writing. You can write. It’s just that you don’t like what you’re writing. That’s what it comes down to. So don’t even read it. Don’t read it. Just start writing. That’s my number one, number one advice, number one tip for that. And I’ve said that to a few people before who have asked, just like friends or whatever, and they don’t like that tip. They’re like, “that’s not the problem. I just can’t write, I can’t come up with anything.” I think it is the problem.
But, if that doesn’t work for you, looking at a list I’ve got here, people say take a walk. Walking helps. Personally I love walks, and sometimes that does get the creative juices flowing. You can kind of zone out and just really think about those ideas that are kind of bottled up in your head. So, yeah, try taking a walk. Don’t get too lost in your thoughts. You want to look both ways when you cross the street.
Some people suggest listening to music, specifically, probably music or a song that fits with the theme of your script. That also helps. Music sparks scenes for me all the time. I’ll be listening to a song, and I’ll get an image of the scene and the song playing in the background. So that definitely helps. I would suggest that. I would not suggest listening to music while you write though. That could be a personal thing, but that, ooh, bad results for me when that happens.
You can also give yourself a reward. Probably not the best thing to do in the long-term. But you know, once or twice? Doesn’t hurt. Sometimes when I need to write a scene and really get to it, I’ll be like, I’ll get a cookie. I’ll go up and get a cookie after I write this scene — a literal, actual cookie. And you know, I’m basic. All I need is a cookie. It helps me. The promise of a cookie is all I need.
You can also just write about your day. Write about things that happened. You’re not really using your imagination. Just write about what happened throughout your day. That way, it gets the writing process going, and maybe that creates momentum, which leads to some creative writing. It could work. Or, it might not. If you’re like me, you’ll probably waste an hour trying to remember what you had for breakfast.
So, different tips and tricks work for different people. Find whatever works for you, but again I would suggest just start writing. Stop being so critical. Stop reading too much into whatever it is you’re writing. Just write and worry about all that later. Because if you don’t write, then you have nothing to improve on. You’re just staring at a blank white page. So, yeah, I’ll see you next week.”