Sunday, March 8, 2009

How I Write: Maturing My Scripter Self

I've realised that I have at least two writing 'selves'.

The first, which I'll call the Planner, is my more familiar self.

In my Planner self, I'm figuring the script out from a distance - I don't want to get too close. I'm considering the questions of theme, of structure, of the purpose of a script. I come up with plot, characters, and situations, and can write a million and one notes (for the current script, 'The Gap', Hix and I have put together a Foolscap File Box full of notes...) I can stay in this Planner self long enough to kill a script - to have written it to death in my head without actually having written it at all.

The second self, which I've been experiencing again as I start to write 'The Gap', is my Scripter self. In this self, I'm actually writing, but in many ways I'm running scared. I'm usually just trying to blat it out. Thinking? Consideration? Who needs it? I just want to get the scene written as fast as possible and get it done.

The Scripter self picks up directly from the point I left him, which happens to have been the moment I finished working on my previous script 'Run' last year. I use the same style, the same tone, the same voice for the characters... And I can sense my Planner frustration (what's happened to all that good work we were doing!!) with the results the Scripter self is firing out.

I'm not suggesting that this differentiation of writing 'selves' is utterly unique to me - in fact I hope that other writers reading this post may be able to relate. But I am very conscious that in my case, I've spent a lot of time in my Planning self for the last ten years, and far less time in my Scripter self.

Consequently I'm feeling that my Scripter self has a lot of maturing to do. I need to be able to loosen up and consider options while I'm actually writing. I want to be able to calmly think about the best ways to express character and the heart of the scene, rather than always going for the easiest course, just because I want to be done with it as fast as possible. If I want to be a professional writer, then I need to be a lot more comfortable in my Scripter self.

I'm hoping that my Planner self can help my Scripter self, so that this maturing process doesn't take years! But it seems to me that getting more comfortable with my Scripter self is the most important thing I can be doing right now as a writer. So if it takes years, it takes years!

Finally, I'm sure there's some things my Planner self can learn from my Scripter self too - like when to let go and just do it!


the daily screenwriter said...

I think I'm more comfortable planning than writing drafts too... the thing I'm working on right now is being okay with drafts (especially the first one) being nowhere near perfect.

Benedict Reid said...

I'm a blatter myself. I stick it down on paper before I've fully worked out the plot. As a result the last third of my scripts are often disappointing. However I always tell myself I can fix it in the rewrites.
Still not too sure how much that's true.
However something I notice is that the more time passes between my having actually worked on scripts, the more scared I am to actually work on scripts.
I've just spent a month doing outline work for a TV series and giving people feedback on outlines. Now I find myself unwilling to get back to the coal face and actually work on script pages... even though I know that the coal face is where I'm most comfortable.
It's just that outlining is a world of possibility. Script is a single, often flawed, fact. None of this possibility nonsense. Just where you are, and where you're going. And it's never as good as you hoped it would be. It can't be. Because it's a tangible thing, and the outline isn't.

Tim Jones said...

I think the Planner is like the rhythm guitarist in a band, and the Scripter is like the lead guitarist.

The Planner sets up the parameters and structure of the song/the script and then the Scripter goes out there and plays the solo/puts the words on the page.

The Planner is a left-brain, analytical type, whereas the Scripter is a right-brain type who is just, like, into communing with the muse. They are both needed, and they have distinct roles. Together, they can make beautiful music.

(Actually, I think the Planner is like James Hetfield, and the Scripter is like Kirk Hammett. In other words, you are Metallica.)

Sean_Molloy said...

That's right. I am Metallica.

Thanks for the ego boost!