It’s a herculean task to produce a television show every seven business days. Scripts have to be written, locations have to be scouted, directors have to be prepped, sets have to be built, props have to be made, costumes have to be made, actors have to prepare, scenes have to be shot under difficult conditions and extraordinary time pressures, episodes have to be edited, music has to be found, sound has to be mixed, and a network and, in our case, two studios have to be kept updated on the status of every one of these endeavours. (Shawn Ryan, October 31, 2003)
Shawn Ryan created The Shield, a show I was a big fan of. I bought this book when I’d finished season two a good few years ago now –
and for some reason I glanced at the foreword by Ryan today. I hadn’t looked at or read it in years but reading that foreword got me psyched up to get going again with the writing after an unproductive last week and a bit.
What that little quote above does is give you that sense of momentum, of having targets to hit that keep you going, motivated and working.
I’ve let myself off the hook a couple of times recently in terms of targets and I know why – it’s because for the first time I’ve got to the stage where I’m submitting work, which was like the biggest obstacle to get over. It was never a case of being scared of rejection, it was a case of not feeling like I was producing work that lived up to my expectations.
Rejection, feelings of inadequacy and striving for perfection that is never forthcoming are, from what I can tell, par for the course when it comes to writing and most pursuits where you are relying on yourself to push yourself.
But, putting all of that aside you can still have a very real, grounded take on your ability and where you are talent wise. Hence the amount of time it took for me to feel confident enough to start putting work out there.
It’s quite possible to be rational and separate yourself from the irrational feelings that can sometimes dominate, and that’s kind of the point, the fact that sometimes you are mentally unbalanced and the irrational part wins and, lets just use a simple example, you can feel like every sentence you write is useless.
Trying to make people understand this though can be difficult. I’ve had many discussions with people where they’ve questioned if I’d ever put work out there.
I always knew and could sense my ability improving and knew the time would come, which leads naturally I think to the slight cut off in the amount of work since.
People react to reaching and surpassing milestones and plateaus in different ways. You see this in every walk of life and is probably most overtly viewed in sport. Some people get to a certain level and just can’t break through to the next stage. An easy example would be to look at Andy Murray and the people who said he’d never win a grand slam, that he’d always be just short.
Other people can make huge break throughs early on, like Juan Martin Del Potro and then, for a variety of reasons find it hard to reach that level again.
Whatever the situation, whatever the person, everyone reacts differently. The key is why, and when it comes to analysing anything, honesty is the key and I suppose, the real reason then, for the dip in my work ethic, would be fear.
The balance has been thrown off with thoughts of, ‘so what now? what if your work is roundly rejected?’
Well, now we’re back to the age old mental battle.
So it’s time to get right back into it and the next target is this: To have the script I’m planning worked out and ready to go by the end of the week so that I’m starting a first draft next Monday.
If there’s one thing that breeds confidence, it’s getting stuck good and proper into a piece of work and nothing is more exciting than that period when you’re first starting a new project.