Ah, Twitter. To some, a sign of the end of days. For others, like myself, it’s a fun way to waste time and “meet” new and interesting people. Like my friend @rachlanger, who decided to write a thriller in three days. A couple of her followers thought that was a really good idea, and now we’re engaged in the 5 Day Feature, which, as you can probably guess, means writing a feature-length screenplay in five days.
When you get out of school, forcing yourself to finish things is often hard, which is one of the reasons projects like NaNoWriMo exist. Without deadlines, I have no incentive to bring my stories to an end, and then inevitably bemoan the fact that I don’t have enough in my portfolio. So when this challenge came up, I jumped at it, hoping that by hook or by crook, at the end of this week I’d have a completed screenplay to shop around.
I cheated a bit by coming up with my concept and writing out a beat sheet before the challenge began, but I’m glad I did because day one was a complete wash. I got sick, and despite having an outline for my screenplay, was not in the mood to do anything about it. The next day went much smoother, and I knocked out nineteen pages.
Another reason for trying to tackle this challenge is that it encourages discipline I just don’t have. I don’t like to force myself to write. This blog post, for example. Walked away from it for hours even though I needed to get it done. When the words don’t flow I shrug and move on, which, I’m sure, is exactly why I’ve got a dozen partially started novels and screenplays on my hard drive, and why I really need to go to grad school.
What helps in this instance is other people going through it with me. We can commiserate, push each other, nag each other, offer condolences, become cheerleaders, ad infinitem. There’s someone out there who knows I should be working, and will periodically check to make sure I am still kicking.
The most difficult aspect for me (and the reason I have yet to successfully complete NaNoWriMo) is that I like to go back and tweak what I already have, rather than continue to push forward and just write the damn thing. I love revision, at least until I reach the point where I get too close and can no longer see the trees for the forest. When that point comes, then I just want someone to shoot me.
But with only five days, I don’t have the luxury of doing anything but typing, so even though I’ve already spotted a plothole I want to plug, I have to just cringe and keep going.