Don’t Underestimate The Value of Distancing Yourself From Your Work

     It’s been over a month since my last post, but I have a good reason. I had a great vacation during which I did no writing. I also got a new book deal and I spent time before the vacation finishing it up. Since I got back I’ve been involved in another project that’s kept me not only away from Screenwriters Rehab, but the project I’d been working on since February.
     Without going into details (it’s not good to talk about your work when you’re writing it), it’s something I’ve gone back and forth on for over a year, but it was going to be the thing I wanted to finish by the end of Summer. I think I still may be able to, primarily because the distance I’ve had from it has invigorated me. I feel refreshed and excited to get back into it.
     And I do mean excited. I re-read what I have so far to familiarize myself with the characters and plot and I’ve already gotten fresh ideas and a stronger perspective. One of the story points I came up with is major. I don’t believe I ever would’ve found it if I hadn’t been away from the script these last couple of months.
     This is a simple example of the importance of distance, whether you have 30 pages or a first draft.
     Most screenwriters, myself included, loathe putting the script away for a few weeks, let alone a few months, largely because we want to get it done and “out there” to get a deal or an agent or manager.
     I can speak from past experience: distance works. Usually it was forced on me. I’d finished something. It got read. The feedback wasn’t great or it was good, but with a proviso strong enough to make me take another pass. And that pass made the script better.
     As difficult as it is for me to be patient, I’ve learned that being patient with a script is crucial. And to me, patience means giving yourself some time away from your baby.