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A Big Picture Thinker in a Step by Step World

Since I started this blog last week, I’ve been giving my faults and foibles in relation to writing some serious thought. I appear actually to be giving writing nothing but thought recently. I’ve been working away on the outline of one of the three ideas I mentioned in my first post and it’s lead me to come to some rather annoying realisations about why I’m still “thinking” about writing and not actually doing it.

I was talking to a friend on the phone the other day, for our purposes here we will call her Kirsty. She made a comment about my writing – or lack of it to be honest – and it sort of opened the flood gates on my behalf. Instead of the usual comments of “I’m writing” while not writing at all, or “I’ve got writers block” – more on that little gem in another post – I started talking about plotting and planning and being a big thinker in a step by step world.

It was then I realised that I somehow have developed the rather delightful habit of using the “big picture” as a way to stop the “step by step”. Let me explain that.

I’ll be happily plotting the scene outlines, developing characters – more on that later too – and all of a sudden I’ll start thinking “I can’t do that, how am I going to get the budget to film this in Monaco, Brazil or Darlinghurst. Where is the money going to come from? Maybe I should look into how people get film grants for their movies? Are there any queer film grants in Australia? I wonder what the poster would like in the local Event Cinema, it should definitely be blue, I like blue. How do I get a distributor? I’ve never been to Monaco, I wonder if I could find someone on line to chat to about the place. What’s the best cafe? Is there a beach, there needs to be a beach. How do I find a director? It’s not like they’re falling from the skies? I’ll need to do a directing course, I’m sure I’ll find someone there who might know of a director who will want to make my movie. What if I can’t find any actors who will agree to be in the movie? What happens then? How come crappy movies keep getting made? I wonder if it’s possible to even make a movie these days that’s not a reboot of a 5 year old movie in the first place. How am I going to know what is an appropriate budget for this movie? Maybe I should move the location from Monaco to the Gold Coast, that has to be cheaper from a budget consideration doesn’t it?”

As you can see by that random sampling of questions, none of them have anything to do with the question that sparked them all, which was “so, what happens next”.

Kirsty gave me some sage advice – after saying “thank god you’re pretty honey cause your too bright”, and telling me “I love you honey but you shit me sometimes” – and the advice was this “Not My Problem”. I need to remember that. Next time my brain decides to take off into all the issues and problems and challenges that the film will face when it’s written, I have to remember that “it’s not my problem”. We even created a song. I think I’ll keep the song in mind when I finally get around to writing my Boy Band Opus, Zombie: The Musical.

By allowing myself to disappear into the bigger picture of film making – a bigger picture I have less clue about than I do about reading a non digital watch – , I ignore the step by step process necessary to actually complete the outline of the script, let alone the script itself. I guess it’s a protection mechanism. By not finishing it I can’t fail so to speak. I mean I can and I do, but at least there’s no one smacking me over the head with a wire coat-hanger and telling me I’m stupid.

The film project most likely to be awarded a public conception and birth – i.e. the focus of this writing effort and the blog itself – is half way through the scene by scene outline. Once I’ve done that I need to develop the characters which is frankly where the writing normally stops. By the time I’ve done all that I usually jump on the next random idea because it’s fresh and new and not ready to be seen.

Focus is a problem area for me, at least focusing on what is important, rather than focusing on the fluff around the edges. I’m very good at focusing on edge fluff.

So there’s my second set of thoughts for Writing in Shadows. The creation of a new outlook on writing – and life – that lead to the new motto of “It’s Not My Problem”. I think I will have t-shirts and mugs created with that on it.

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43 year old Australian writer currently working on the first of a planned three book Epic Fantasy series. When he's not writing policy discussions, or tales of swords, Gods, and magic, he can be found making a mess in the kitchen, and turning perfectly good ingredients into crimes against humanity.

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