Nothing Changes If Nothing Changes

     Most screenwriters (and writers in general) are in one kind of rut or another. It just ain't happening. You have a mediocre idea or not even an idea--maybe just a notion of a story. Or the premise you fell in love with doesn't love you back. It sounded like such a good idea at the time. Now you hate it and you wonder why you ever thought it was any good.
    Back to the rut. You're not writing. The only thing you're doing is feeling sorry for yourself. Days go by. Maybe weeks. And then a few months have gone by and you're self-esteem is dwindling as your self-loathing is increasing. 
     That's when it really gets bad because you're starting to become immobilized with fear that you'll never find another good idea or that even if you do, you won't be able to finish a draft or if you do, you won't be able to rewrite it or rethink it.  That kind of thinking pushes you down even further into the miasma of a blocked writer.
    Oh, by the way, that's what you've become. You are not a screenwriter anymore. You are now a screenwriter who can't break through his block and that's dangerous territory because with all that free time you have because you aren't writing, you can spend it "thinking" about how you're not writing and that brings you down even more.
    Is there a way out of this horrible place?
    Only if you change the rut you've been in. How do you do that? Depends on your psyche. Maybe take a short vacation. Or a long one. Get away from your environment and the daily bullshit.  Join a health club. Exercise can be a very freeing experience once you find a routine.
     I won't kid you. There are might be 50 things you can try to get out of your rut and none of them may work. But you have to try. 
     You have to change whatever pattern you've fallen into.
     Because nothing changes if nothing changes, you have to take that first step.
     If you don't, it'll only get worse.

Every Screenplay Starts With A Raw Idea

     Nobody knows where it comes from...that elusive idea that sometimes materializes in our brains. It's not even in our comfort zone. It's just the nucleus of an idea or even a raw notion of a concept. But it's something and it hooks us. Maybe in the form of a sentence or maybe a theme or maybe some primal event that suddenly gets your mind cooking.
     That cooking feeling is what lights the fire under our seats.  We can't get it out of our minds. It starts to build momentum. Suddenly a character, your hero, pops into your head. What he or she wants is very clear. What he or she has to do to attain it comes next.
     Then the complications and obstacles.
     Then the protagonist.
     Then you mysteriously know the event that will come at the end of Act One. And the middle of Act Two hiccup arrives. And all of a sudden a subplot comes to mind.
     Then you realize what the end of Act Two moment will be. Something unexpected and exciting that will propel you into Act 3.
     And maybe you even know how it's going to end.
     If you're really lucky you pound out an outline that feels right. Then you start the script. It's not as if the screenplay will write itself, but you're churning out pages faster than ever before and they feel right and you've got your muse riding with you and you're writing in one of those outbursts that rarely come so you know you'd better stick with it because "make hay while the sun shines" keeps reverberating throughout your head.
     And you complete the first draft faster than anything you've ever written and you get some feedback from your key readers and they like it and they give you some good notes that feel right and you dive into the rewrite and...
     It all started with that raw idea that you weren't even looking for.
     Sometimes those are the best inspirations, much better than those other ideas you've been thinking about or making notes for or doing false starts on. Not that they won't materialize into screenplays.
     But never underestimate the wild idea that pops into your head.
     Like a new friend or a new lover, those are the best kind.