Script Your Success™ Podcast

Writer's Block Part II: The OTHER BS That Stops You From Writing

May 03, 2022 Eunice Smith Season 2 Episode 205
Writer's Block Part II: The OTHER BS That Stops You From Writing
Script Your Success™ Podcast
More Info
Script Your Success™ Podcast
Writer's Block Part II: The OTHER BS That Stops You From Writing
May 03, 2022 Season 2 Episode 205
Eunice Smith

Eunice gets real about the other B.S. that can stop your story in it's tracks and it's not bull$#it.

If you ever find yourself struggling to get your ideas out of your head and onto the page, tune into this informative episode where Eunice, writer, producer and script coach, shares some of her personal struggles, strategies and triumphs over writer's block.

Powered by The WordSmith Writer's Lab and the PWR Writer App, the world's first end-to-end screenwriting process that fits in your pocket.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Eunice gets real about the other B.S. that can stop your story in it's tracks and it's not bull$#it.

If you ever find yourself struggling to get your ideas out of your head and onto the page, tune into this informative episode where Eunice, writer, producer and script coach, shares some of her personal struggles, strategies and triumphs over writer's block.

Powered by The WordSmith Writer's Lab and the PWR Writer App, the world's first end-to-end screenwriting process that fits in your pocket.

They are rushing you to get it done. Or they're telling you that they got a story for you, or they're telling you that you should write your story a certain way. If it's causing you the kind of pressure that's stopping you from feeling like you can create and you can get into a flow, this is not the kind of pressure you need. Okay? So, keep... 

The big question is this? How do screenwriters like us connect to the people, the resources, and information that allow us to tell our stories, make powerful movies and leave the legacy that our community deserves? These are the burning questions that I'm going to explore week after week. And I want to welcome you to the script, your success podcast. Thank you for joining me. And today we're going to be talking about the second part of writer's block, and why sometimes you can't write. And we talked already about belief systems. If you haven't seen that episode, be sure to tune in and check that out, leave a comment. But today we're going to talk about the second reason, most writers find themselves stuck. And that is your blind spots. Now, I got to start off by talking about what is a blind spot. And here's the thing, a blind spot can be even more dangerous to a screenwriter than your belief system. So why? Because you don't even know that you don't know it. You don't even know that this is the way that your mind is working. You don't even realize that you've got these habits. And if you don't know, you can't fix it. If you don't know, you can't improve, if you don't know you can't address it right? So let's get right into what I'm talking about-- your blind spots. 

The first one is, there are some common culprits right? When we start thinking about the technical skills around screenwriting, and becoming a filmmaker, for example, how you format a screenplay, how you develop a strong character, the way that you write dialogue that's rich and dynamic, and seems real world even though you're doing the things a dialog needs to do, right? If you aren't sure of how to do those things, and you don't even know that you're screwing it up every time you sit down to write. Those are some blind spots. If you don't realize you're not doing and I talked about this in prior episodes, you do the best you can with what you have when you have it. But once you know better, you do better. And this is why we got to understand what those blind spots are right? 

Now I talked about some technical, some technical blind spots that can cause us to have problems. But these things don't typically run us into a rut when it starts to talk when we start talking about writer's block, not knowing how to do something on a technical end, we typically can Google that stuff, right? Once we know that it's a problem. But in order to know that those technical things are problem, we got to get some script coverage, get somebody to read our script, have somebody who's honest, give us some feedback, some mentoring, some coaching, right? So those aren't really easy to handle. The things that I want to talk about today, though, are those that are a little bit more difficult to address and why? Because they reside within us. Okay, now I'm going to talk about these common culprits. 

The first one is purposeful procrastination. Oh, who am I talking to raise your hand if this is you, the purposeful procrastinator, and I want to I want to start off by saying if you are a procrastinator, that does not mean you are lazy, that does not mean anything negative. A lot of times, we have so many different things that we are working with that we are trying to get over that we need to address right. And one of them and my female, my lady clients, we tend to deal with this more than the male clients that I deal with. Purposeful procrastination is when we will do everything under the sun. I'm telling you, if you want my house to be clean, top to bottom, give me a writing deadline. And I promise you, I will do everything in my house. I will clean the bottom of the refrigerator. I will do all my laundry and fold it and if Listen, I'll let my husband tell you washing the clothes, drying the clothes that's done in one day folding the clothes and putting them away. Seven to 10 business days. That's me on average, but give me a writing deadline. I will wash the clothes, dry the clothes, fold the clothes, organize the closet by color and season and all that stuff, right? Because I'm doing everything except writing. Because for whatever reason something is in my mind and I just can't release it. I don't feel comfortable. I'm not confident that I can get these thoughts out of my head and onto the page as vividly as they are in my mind. And as a result

To write the next thing... 

hey, you liking this podcast? Well, you can support us by liking, sharing, and giving us reviews on all major podcast platform. Look for us at script your success And be sure to tell a friend to do as writers. 

And this is a blind spot for us is we fill in the gap. Now, this is different from purposeful procrastination, how? Because the things that we do when we fill in the gap are related to writing example. And I'm telling you all myself, because I want you all to understand that I am not that much different than you. Okay? The only reason that I can sit here and talk about these things and laugh about it is because I've been through them and I have survived these things. Right. So okay, here's the next thing, fill in the gap. Have you ever decided that you're going to write a screenplay, and instead of you sitting down and following the steps now my process is logline synopsis, outline, right until the story's done. But instead of me doing that, when I'm not very sure of the process, what will I do, I will spend three hours researching what I should name my protagonist, I will sit and go on Google and look up the name of the street in 1979. That would have been relevant in this storytime that I'm writing, right? I might try to make all the names of my characters create an acronym, I do this kind of silly stuff, this research research about the names of streets and what stores would have been called and how much crackers cost in 1920, do we need this information, we may or may not need it. But when I'm doing this, or when I decide that I need to know all the different ways that I can format a montage. This is me doing writing related work, that's not actually getting the story written. And that's why I call it Filling in the gap. Now, if you can relate to this,

there is a way to do something different. How? Well, all I do, I can't tell you what your process needs to be understanding that you're doing it is the first step right, you got to know that this is what you're doing is the end before you can stop. But when I recognize that I'm spending a lot of time on researching frogs, or dogs or street names or character names, I asked myself, what's at the heart of the matter? Why want to just sit down and write? Is it that I really need to know these things? Or is it that I'm really nervous about what's going to happen when I start to put this information on the page often is not about me being nervous about the street. And then because guess what? If I can get it on paper, I can make it better later. That's the reality. But I won't do it unless I allow myself to move in a different way. And that requires me to be actively aware of what I'm doing. Okay, so that's another blind spot. 

Now the next one is that peanut pressure, peanut gallery pressure. Now this one kind of lies outside of ourselves. But it starts with us all the same. So that's why part of the reason that I call it the blind spot, the peanut gallery, you know who that is? That should people that should besties that's your social media, Facebook groups, that should Instagram groups that might be a writing group that exists in the real world. But that peanut gallery, and what I mean by that is the people that are always in your ear, and they become the subconscious voices that cause us to worry about whether or not we're good enough whether or not we're writing fast enough, are we making enough progress? The peanut gallery might be the people that we start to compare ourselves to, which is a belief system, right? Where we start to think that we're not as good as we should be. We're not as far along as maybe we could be. That is what happens when we start to talk to the peanut gallery. someone reads our script, we tell them about our idea. And what do they do? They tell us it's not good enough doubt in your mind. And it's just swirling and it's picking up steam, right? So you'll never write it. And this is what you'll call writer's block, when really it's fear of judgment. Now, how do you handle that? I'll tell you what are the ways that I do it, you can take it or leave it. I don't tell nobody nothing about my stories until I'm ready for them to see it. That's just reality. Now I'm not necessarily keeping my story a secret. Everybody in my family knows I'm a writer. But what I learned to do very early on in my writing career and like I said, I've been doing this since I was like six years old is I don't tell people about my works in progress because like Erykah Badu said, I'm an artist and I'm sensitive about my shit. And if you are an artist and you are also sensitive, this peanut gallery pressure whether they are rushing you to get it done, or they're telling you that they got a story for you

something along the lines of don't share big dreams with small minded people. And all they're saying is if you have a tendency to share your vision with somebody and they cut it down, stop sharing it with them. That's what I do. Stop sharing with them. Now what does that mean, you might feel a little bit lonely. The writers life is a lonely life sometimes. But I encourage you find a coach or mentor that you trust that is going to encourage you to do your best and call you on your BS when you need when you need that, right. But beyond your coach or your mentor, find a small writing group, this might just be one or two people that you trust, right, and you got to build that trust up. And once you establish those relationships with those people, hold them close. I got three people and I'm gonna call them by name because I love to give people their flowers while they are alive. Sylus Green, Edwin Walker and Lesley Martinez, those are my people, I can call them about anything creative, and they're gonna keep it real with me. They're going to encourage me to dream beyond what I even thought was possible. And they never shoot my ideas down no matter what else is happening. So I found my tribe and I have grown substantially in the time that I have been working with them because they always encouraged me. Now my family, I'm blessed to have an extremely supportive family. But with inside that creative when we talk about the creative community, it's Lesley, Sylus and Edwin that always have my back now y'all can't have my people. But I encourage you to go find your own. And that's going to help you with that peanut gallery pressure. 

The next up on the list. This culprit is serious. Yeah. And it's called what I like to call misplaced creativity. But have you ever spent hours on social and I'll mean just like you check your status, you check to see if anybody said anything haha, Cool beans, move on with your day. But I mean, ours, you inside the Facebook group, talking about writing, you commented on everybody's post that pops up on your timeline.

You making your own long drawn out Facebook posts. That's one thing that's misplaced creativity, because think about it. Every time you comment, every time you share, you're sharing a story. There's some creativity that goes into those comments, because you're thoughtful, your writer, your writer. So some of your best creativity, almost on Facebook boom is on Twitter, boom, it's on Instagram, you might have even made a tick tock. That's that creativity. And you know, I tend to believe we get like a certain dose of creative creative juices in our day. And once we use up our creativity for that day, like we gotta recharge, that's just me that might not be you. But then here's another Have you ever binge watched the show? And we call it research? I have done it. I am guilty. If you are guilty as well. You are in good company. I will watch all 12 episodes of four seasons of a show. And swift Oh Lord, that I can't write. Why can I write because I just sat there and zapped all my creativity watching TV. What am I doing? Don't get me wrong, watching TV and truly researching projects that are similar to projects that you're trying to write or formats or genres that you're trying to master.  Perfect. You need to do that every now and again. But we don't need to spend the

Whole Memorial Day weekend, the whole Thanksgiving holiday weekend binge watching the first season of power, we just don't need to do it. Right now I get why we do it. Sometimes we don't necessarily feel as confident. Sometimes we don't necessarily have the energy. Sometimes we might not feel like our imagination is really flowing. And maybe we need some inspiration. And if that's what we're doing, that's cool. But just recognize that you have to create a healthy limit to how much television watch and how much social media, how much of other people's creativity you're going to engage in, before you start to do some wonderful things of your own. You see where I'm going with that. 

All right, so the next thing that I want to talk about, and this one is highly related to the perfectionist, belief system that I talked about in the prior podcast episode. If you haven't seen that episode, I encourage you to go ahead and check it out, because we talk about some powerful things there. But this one is analysis, paralysis, analysis, paralysis, just generally speaking, is when we have to think about every possible combination and sequence of events and align everything the sun, the stars, the moon, the shadows, the trees, the birds, the bees, the ants, right, everything needs to be in perfect alignment before we will actually take action for riders for us as writers, when we get into analysis paralysis, we want to know that everything we do in the beginning is going to work out perfectly in the end. So what happens, we do that we do need to do some planning when it comes down to writing the screenplay. I talked about my process, logline synopsis, outline writing, right, and there's a whole lot of other steps in between those things.

If you are trying to analyze everything that you're writing, you're not giving yourself permission to create and you deserve that freedom. So good enough, is enough to keep going right? Don't let great be the enemy of good. Get it down on paper, we can always revise it later. That's the way that I like to teach my clients and encourage my clients. And that's how we keep ourselves from falling into analysis paralysis. 

Now, this next one is a major blind spot. And I might spend a little bit more time here because this one is really difficult for a lot of writers.  It's one that I avoid like the plague, by the way, and it's when we are too close to the story to be able to write it in the most authentic way. I'll say it like that. Well, a lot of times writers, especially newer writers, all writers tend to do this at one point or another in their careers. And that is writing a story that is highly personal, meaning it might be autobiographical. Or it could be about a situation in their neighborhood. Or it could even be about a family member or something that they

You are there telling you that you should write your story a certain way. If it's causing you the kind of pressure that's stopping you from feeling like you can create, and you can get into a flow, this is not the kind of pressure you need, okay? So keep your creative juices to yourself, allow all that energy to transfer from your mind onto the page. And when you got something substantive, then you can share it with your people and get the feedback. But make sure it's getting you getting feedback from people you trust, because not everybody that you know, is worthy of knowing what you are doing. So there are some people in all of our lives who don't necessarily want to see us when, what does that mean for you as a writer, if you decide to share your one of the most sensitive things that you have, and this is I call our stories, the most sensitive thing about us because it comes from within us, right. But if you decide to share that sensitive part of yourself, that vulnerable part of yourself with someone who is hell bent on breaking you down, they are not going to do anything that's going to encourage you to keep being creative. In fact, they will make it their business to belittle you to condescend you to Oh, you wrote a little script, or what you think you did what you're gonna do send it to Oprah Winfrey, now oh, you've sent you finna go to Tyler Perry studios, they'll belittle your dreams. And I don't remember exactly how to phrase goals. But it says

witnessed a family member or their community go through right. And here. And by the way, before I get into the crux of this, I want you to understand there is nothing wrong with our autobiographical screenplays. There's nothing wrong with biopics. Here's where we run into an issue though, when we are very close to the story, meaning we are creating characters based on our real world experiences. For example, let's say I was writing a story about a mother and a daughter who had a contentious relationship. And I am in my mind, either the mother or the daughter, naturally, I don't want to make myself look bad. And I don't want to make my daughter look bad. So what happens, this is how it translates on to the page, we start to write and I'm talking about, I'm speaking from experience from reading clients work and even my own experiences, right? This is part of the reason I avoid it. We start to write, we feel like we, we err in our family's dirty laundry, we feel like we're going to be embarrassed, we don't want to make ourselves look bad. We don't want to make nobody else look bad. We worry about is this legally? Okay? Do I need permission to tell the business, all of these questions start to come up when we are very close to the story. And what that does faster than anything else. I mean, you can have a wonderful story at play. But if you are worried about exposing yourself, or exposing others, or someone coming back to you saying that you expose them without proper permission, then quickly what will happen or what has happened, and I've worked with several clients who have had this happen to them, what happens very quickly as you end up not wanting to write because you are afraid of what happens if you actually write it. Now I had one client and I worked with her over a series of weeks. And she was writing a very personal story. And what we had to break through was the fact that her writing had become therapy. Because as she was writing, she started remembering information and details that she didn't necessarily consciously recall, when she began writing the story. Now, for a few weeks, she found herself unable to write it all because she was really dealing with the triggers that the story was bringing up for her. But we worked through it week after week until she was able to kind of release those things and come to terms with the fact that she was okay, it was safe, and she could move forward. But I want you to understand that if you are trying to write a story of a personal nature, and you find yourself unable to do so, this is one of the few times that I recommend stepping away. And I recommend stepping away because like I said, like I mentioned with my other client, sometimes you can unearth old wounds that you don't mean to that you might not necessarily be equipped to handle. Sometimes you are afraid of like I said exposing people and and it's very difficult. This is tender territory. And you can't i can't dictate to you what the outcomes will be if you are telling a very personal story. So if you find yourself unable to tell that story in its best, most authentic version, then stepping away from that to a project that's less personal, is the recommendation that I will give you until you find yourself in a position where maybe you can get a mentor like my client that maybe a mentor can help guide you through some of those emotions. That's part of what we do as coaches and mentors, is we help writers get past the things that are causing them anxiety in their writing process, right.

And then the last thing I want to talk about, that tends to be a blind spot for writers, the real life need to take a break. Because here's the thing, one of the things that I see way too often in the creative community, especially with screenwriters is this whole mentality of you got to grind every day you got to write every day. That's absolutely not the truth. It's not only not true, it's dangerous. I want you to understand that mental fatigue is serious. Sometimes life is throwing more at us than we can handle all at once. That's just reality. Now this is not the same as purposeful procrastination. I'm going to give you guys an example of a time where I had to take a break. From my writing I was writing a screenplay, writing almost everyday journal and every Day, going to work all those things right. And I got the call that my father had fallen ill um, he has stage four terminal cancer. God rest his soul. But during that time I became his primary caretaker. So I'm going to work full time I got the kids at home, I you know, I got family stuff happening. I'm trying to make sure his estate is in order. There's a lot this happening in my life. At that time. I just did not have the energy to write a screenplay about anything at any time. And, you know, at first, I felt like, oh my god, Eunice, you're being lazy? What's going on? How are you going to consider yourself a professional writer, people say you got to write every day, if you want to be a writer, and I'm like, I can't, I need to take a break. And that break, like I gave myself I had to give myself permission. After I had a break down, naturally speaking. I mean, it was a very tough situation. But after I gave myself permission to step away from my story, and then when I was ready, you know, we laid my dad to rest, we got the family affairs in order, everything was kind of moving back towards some semblance of normal. When I picked that story back up, not only was I able to finish it, but I was able to read it, and I was reading with a fresh set of eyes. So that first part of the first draft, I was able to revise that and make that even better, and then finish the whole script off in a very strong manner. And when I sent it to my creative producer, they were absolutely amazed. So I want you to understand that sometimes life is gonna throw something at you that you need to kind of handle and writing might need to go on the back burner for just a little while. So if that's your reality, that's okay. Like, nobody should be judging you. And that's why you got to be careful about that whole thing that gala and all those other things that we talked about those black spots, right. But all of these things, I hope you can understand their son in one way or another. They all relate to certain fears and certain triggers and certain traumas that we have to give ourselves permission to be okay with and when we can do

Transcribed by

Purposeful Procrastination
Filling In The Blank
Peanut Gallery Pressure
Misplaced Creativity
Analysis Paralysis
Too Close for Comfort
Life Itself