We’ve all had it, we all hate it. If you’ve ever stared at a blinking cursor on your screen, or at a stack of empty note cards, or off into the abyss and thought, “I’ve got nothing,” know that you’re not alone. Even the greats find themselves in creative and motivational funks. But just because things may seem difficult or bleak, doesn’t mean that there isn’t a way out.
Here’s a concise and action-centered list of things to do to shake off the gloom and get back into the swing of things. It also has a handy list of things that do NOT help with writer’s block (like reading and writing articles about writer’s block, whoops!).
But as every article, blog, and well-meaning professor or mentor will tell you, the only true way to get through the writer’s block is by simply writing. Writing crap, writing nonsense, writing something terrible and confusing and so off that it’s cringe-worthy. It doesn’t matter what you’re writing, so long as you actually do it. So stop dragging your feet, stop expecting perfection or inspiration or ease, and just write already!
How have you dealt with your creative blocks? Share any helpful tips or encouraging stories in the comments.
Naomi Beaty with ScreenCraft offers three tricks to help you get your screenplay done. Time and motivation are hard to come by sometimes, so you have to be creative about how you keep yourself from getting jaded.
Indie Film Academy provides an interesting technique for getting your screenplay finished: reverse engineering. That’s a simple way of saying work backward. This may help you get over that seemingly impossible bump in the road or give you a new way to look at the writing process. Give a whirl and see how it works for you. Happy writing!
One of the biggest mysteries for a creative person: is my work done? Well, Ken Miyamoto with ScreenCraft created a handy list to help you determine if and when your script is done, and what steps come next.
Grammar Police, this one is for you. The folks at TED-Ed provide a delightful tutorial on how to use the mysterious semi-colon. You’ll feel like a grammar Super Mario ready to take on anything after watching. I hope you find this helpful!
Ken Miyamoto at ScreenCraft sat down with Jim Uhls to offer insight on writing, original work versus an adaptation, how to interview your characters, making both the analytical and intuitive sides of your brain to work together, tricks for pitch meetings, and how to handle that unavoidable demon known as writer’s block.
I’ve come to the realization that I’ve been running this blog page for Hollins University for a year now and I have yet to properly introduce myself. Where are my manners? Allow me to ameliorate this.
Name: Amanda Hobbs
Hometown: Richmond, Virginia, USA
How long at Hollins?I’ve been a graduate student in the summer graduate screenwriting & film studies program since 2015.
What made you chose this profession?Long story short, this place feels like the right place. This industry has given me more chances than others. I believe in following the yes’s. So this is where it’s lead me.
Favorite films/directors/writers/scores/composers/costume designers? Favorite films: Chicago, A League of Their Own, The Sandlot, just about any Disney film, The Princess Bride, Invictus, Long Strange Trip, Midnight in Paris, The Dark Knight, Charlie Wilson’s War, Elizabeth: The Virgin Queen… Directors: Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino, Woody Allen, Alfred Hitchcock, Susanna Bier… Writers: Joss Whedon, Aaron Sorkin, Quentin Tarantino… Composers: Michael Giacchino, John Williams … Costume Designers: Colleen Atwood, Alexandra Byrne, Jenny Beavan
Goals for this blog:To reach as many people as possible and be a valuable tool for as many people as possible. I strive to include articles about multiple aspects such as filmmaking and production, the atmosphere and culture of the industry, women and minorities in the industry, and perspectives from the actor’s or director’s points of view. I seek out multiple – if seemingly unusual – sources for inspiration, creativity, and anything else I think could be of value to anyone working or hoping to work in the film industry. Since this page is sponsored by an actual living, breathing university, I also like to showcase the work of our students and professors in hopes that you will come spend time with us so you can become better at your craft and become a part of this incredible family of creatives and artists.
What genres do you like to write? Is there another genre or aspect of the industry you’d like to explore more? I’ll admit my brain tends to go into a Hallmark/Lifetime kind of place. But, I do have an incredible fascination with history. It’s really not as boring as people think. History is all about people and their stories. As far as the film industry goes, I want to learn about anything and everything I can get my hands on: writing, directing, acting, film scoring, or costume design. My skill set, however, is an entirely different discussion – ha ha. Anything can be learned if you’re willing to be a student.
Where do you find inspiration? History and real life stories fascinate me. I also find myself gravitating towards stories about women. Women have stories just as rich and compelling as anyone else. I’m not the sort to condone or resort to man-bashing; I think it’s neither necessary nor appropriate and contradicts the goals of gender equality. I just think women deserve to have the credit for their contributions, respect for the abilities of their brains, and deserve to have their stories shared and celebrated.
Tricks for sustaining/maintaining creativity? How do you fight creativity blocks? When I write, I like to lock myself in room with a big window, stick my earbuds in and listen to classical music (which is also not as boring as people think). The Beethoven station on Pandora does the trick for me. It’s nice to have something in your ear that will block out the outside world for a bit while also stimulating your brain enough to keep your attention. Whenever I find myself struggling to write, I realize that it’s time to take a break. The brain needs some rest. So I’ll find something else to do like go for a walk – fresh air does wonders, find a craft to do, read a book, or exercise. I like to think of it this way: when you hit a block, the creative fuel tank is empty. So in order to keep going, you need to refuel. I find it enormously helpful to go find something else to do because staring at a blank page all weekend accomplishes nothing. Go socialize, enjoy a meal with people, have conversations… I’m an introvert and I’m saying this. Yes, private time is important. But humans are social creatures and require interaction with other humans for a multitude of reasons. That’s neither an accident nor a fluke. Also, pick a writing time and defend it like mad – this is something I struggle with immensely.
Fun facts/favorites/interests/hobbies: Fun facts: I attended the Sundance Film Festival in Salt Lake City for the first time this year and volunteered with the Richmond International Film Festival. Both wonderful experiences. Interests: outdoor activities, travelling, gardening, music, cooking/baking, crafts, reading
Bio: A little bit about me. I’m Amanda, your humble blogger. I grew up in Chesterfield, VA (just south of Richmond). I received my Associate’s in Arts degree from Richard Bland College, my Bachelor of Arts in History from Virginia Tech, and I’m currently working on my MFA at Hollins University. As far as my involvement with the film industry, I’m slowly but surely, making my way. I was an active member of the music community as a band student in high school and wanted to pursue a career as a music teacher, but eventually realized it wasn’t a good fit for me. However, I did become a sister of Tau Beta Sigma, the National Honorary Band Service Sorority. I considered pursuing a theatre major, but opted for history because I felt it would be more versatile, it was subject I was genuinely interested in, and I still thought I wanted to be a teacher. After teaching preschool for several years, spending a semester in a teacher licensure program, and not satisfied with where I was headed, I decided to take another direction and go after something that I really wanted. I came upon Hollins University after doing an online search for film programs in my home state of Virginia. I stewed over it for some time before applying, but once I did I never looked back. I’ve continued to pursue work in this industry because it’s given me opportunities that others wouldn’t. And, plus, there’s more than one way to be a teacher.