Best time to get a new idea

23 May

…when you’re suffering in the middle of your old one.

There’s nothing like wandering through the lawn maze of ACT 2 on your current script to make you mind race with the untold possibility and wonder of your NEW IDEA.  Everything you’re doing now seems so two thousand and late compared to the genius brewing in the NEW IDEA.  In fact – you can’t believe you are still writing something so bad and derivative when there is the potential BEST SUMMER FILM ever just sitting there in the back of your head.

Whenever this happens – and it does happen, like, every script – I think of one man.

Ever heard of Ron Bass?

If you haven’t – you’ve surely heard of his movies.  Rain Man. Dangerous Minds.  Joy Luck Club.  My Best Friend’s Wedding.  Sleeping with the Enemy.  Right now, this guy has 8 films listed in development on IMDB.  For a run through the 80-90’s – this was the go to guy for just about any kind of script.  And this doesn’t come close to counting the number of rewrites and passes he made on other people’s projects.

Ron Bass started writing as a kid.  By 17, he had a novel – and showed it to his teacher who said it was good – but a bit too personal.  Ron responded by burning the manuscript and giving up writing.  He instead went to law school.  At Stanford.  At Yale.  Finally at Harvard.  Specialized in Entertainment Law – moved out to LA and eventually worked his way up to partner at his firm.  Then he remembered he liked to write.  He started waking up at 3 AM and would crank out stories till he had to go to work.  His first novel was reworked from the memory of his burned manuscript.  He would publish 2 more books before finally turning his last book into a screenplay.  That screenplay started an impressive run that made Ron into the high-priced screenwriter he remains to this day.

Ron is somewhat famous for how he works.  He sits down and writes up to 12-18 hours a day.  He has a team of research assistants that get him whatever info he needs about whatever he is looking at.

And then he writes.

Half the day is the project he’s working on – the other half is the next project.

Half the day is about cranking out the pages.  Half the day is being creative about what’s next.

How does he do it?  “Discipline, grasshopper.  Discipline.”

I don’t have the luxury or patience for discipline, thank you.  I want my brilliant script and I want it now, thank you.  I have the job, the two kids, no time… I want it all and I want it on the first draft, thank you.

Oh well.

My advice?  The great idea will still be there when you plow through this script. Truth is – this script most likely started as a great idea in the middle of your last failed script.  The best way to get better is to keep writing and the only way to do that is to finish.  The more bad scripts you’ve finished – the better chances are that you’ll be a good writer when you get to your truly great idea.  In other words, the best way to get better is to write till you stop being mediocre.

And start taking notes.  Now.  While you’re at work.  On the train.  In the car.  Flesh the new idea out till it sparkles like gold.

And once you finish the stinker you’re in the middle of – jump into your new one with excitement.

Cause there’s another idea out there.  And trust me, its way better than your new one.

And it’s just waiting for you to get stuck in ACT TWO.


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