Today, though, I don't want to talk about the books themselves. Instead, I'd like to discuss a theme that seems to show up in almost every screenwriting book I read.
Blake Snyder (Save The Cat) summed it up almost perfectly in one sentence, "To be a screenwriter is to deal with an ongoing tug of war between breathtaking megalomania and insecurity so deep it takes years of therapy just to be able to say 'I'm a writer' out loud."
Can you say, "busted?" Because, I did. (I could focus on the megalomania portion of the quote, but to paraphrase Roseanne Barr, I don't come off so good there. So, insecurity it is.)
I've always called myself sensitive, I guess because that sounds nicer and downplays the negative aspects of the emotion. However, as I try to write "more real," I've attempted a deeper self-analysis. What makes me tick? The answer seems to be insecurity.
So, how do I deal with insecurity? Or, more importantly for you, how can you deal with your own insecurity? Mainly, I fake it. I'm no Dr. Phil, so I have no idea if this is a good idea, but it's all I've got so far. That, and my Rocket Fuel.
WHAT IS ROCKET FUEL?
Rocket Fuel is anything that gets you back to feeling good about yourself, so that you can return to pounding out words. (If you're writing a drama about depression, Rocket Fuel may not be for you.)
My Rocket Fuel is three-fold. One, I tap into previous positive feedback. Two, tap into my own megalomania. Three, pull out the big guns.( I let my wife praise me. If it's really bad, call Mom.)
Let's break it down:
Rocket Fuel One: Go Positive. When I'm really stuck in suck, I refer to a list of professional notes that I've received over the years. The good ones, not the changes. "Overall, this is a truly impressive sitcom pilot." and "Impressive, witty storytelling." and "Your characters and world feel real, as opposed to exaggerated, which makes the sheer amount of humor you generate quite remarkable." My point isn't to brag, that's a bonus (score one for megalomania), my point is: I find something, anything, to trick myself back into feeling good so I can continue writing. I go to the pros first, because, frankly, they're the ones I'm trying to impress. Their comments have the biggest impact.
Rocket Fuel Two: Megalomania. I use the strangely confident side of me to try and override the insecure side of me. This can get weird. I look for something that I am uncharacteristically confident about. These items are rare, so, my example is ridiculous, but I do it. And it works. (Deep breathe, about to get mocked.) Sometimes, I use fantasy football.
I have spent years in my fantasy football league feeding my arrogant side. With that particular set of guys, I'm confident and brash, an ass, really. I don't take crap, but I regularly dish it out. It's all in fun, but it's also been very deliberate. I recognized early that I was able to be someone different there, and I stuck with it. Now, it's paying off. When I'm feeling bad about my writing, or obsessing about what other people might think of it, I tap into Sidewinder Paul, destroyer of fantasy football dreams. He doesn't care one bit about other people's opinions. He plows forward with no regard to anything but self. When it works, I become Screenwriter Paul, destroyer of blank pages.
Rocket Fuel Three: Outside Support. For me, its my wife. Or, if necessary, my Mom. Hey, writing is a lonely world. My wife's been writing for twenty years. She gets it. As uncomfortable as it is for me to receive a compliment (VERY), sometimes I just allow my wife to give me one. She can tell when I need it. And, when she's not available, I call my Mom. Who can't feel better from a quick talk with their mother? Mine still thinks I could be President. Certainly she believes I can write a screenplay.
These tricks don't always work. On those days, I just work on something else. Research the biz, read a book, or all too often, stare out the window, check e-mail and waste time in dramatic and creative ways. Like blogging.
Ideas for overcoming? Share them in the comments!