Thanks to everyone who remembered my birthday. Most messages were sent via Facebook and someday, I will respond. I never go on Facebook and I am 100% absolutely, self-sabotagingly wrong, but I always saw social media as a way of either promoting yourself or curiously hovering over people you may have met a few times or during your school days but barely know now or ever. Since I am incurious about most people who are not actively in my life I don’t make time to hover. And I apologize for not catching up in the some way with my Facebook friends who give a shit enough to reach out to me.
That said, here’s my excuse: My birthday really was a blur. No details necessary, although I believe a mermaid and the Rolling Stones logo were involved at some point, but the phrase “I am too old for this shit” really does apply here. My head is still wonky. Which brings me to the subject of this post.
Can you improve your screenplay if you write it while wonky?
No. Wonky – intoxicated, inebriated, drunk, high – whatever you want to call it inhibits the receptors in you brain, relaxes your body and creates a state of somewhere between, “It doesn’t matter” and “This is easy.” Try to write an essay high then read it the next day and see if you can figure out what you were talking about.
Writing is a serious art. I don’t expect Van Gogh was sipping elderberry wine when painting his sunflowers. Poor man had enough demons in his head to deal with. And despite histories of renowned alcoholism, neither Fitzgerald nor Hemingway wrote their tomes unless their heads were clear.
The quote attributed to Hemingway (but contested) glorifies the creative process. But screenwriting is not only about inspiration and creativity of story, plot and character.
All writing is work. Hard work. Screenwriting can seem painstaking because it requires a special format and nuances that come from maintaining the structure. Many non-writers float the myth of creativity as if some muse floats into the head and the art flows forth.
What utter bullshit. Inspiration comes from many muses — and you may have the very best you’ve ever had after a few pints at the pub, but the physical act of typing the correct words in correct format to establish a brilliant flow is a skill. As with all skill, it takes patience, practice and sober thought. You don’t drive drunk. You don’t do your taxes drunk and you do not write drunk.
Wonky in the head removes all filters. You unleash a stream of conscious style that is not bound to the conventions of your structure, plot or character development. Wonkiness allows flow. Okay, fine for a first draft. But what happens when you need to polish this turd? Making heads and tails of your wonky words is now a chore.
In honor of my birthday, go on, by all means have a drink on me. But emerging writers — Beware, you still have all that editing to do. Don’t make it hard on yourself. Find your creativity any way it comes, but when it’s time to write it down, keep a clear head. Wonky definitely has its time and place, but polishing a screenplay that’s been requested by a studio, ain’t it. Have some food for thought and get back to work.