Monday, March 01, 2010

Mind The Gap

Any form of distraction when you should be writing is usually classified as procrastination. Surfing the net, watching TV, blogging, tweeting, hell, even housework. You know the drill. Anything but writing. However, there's a form of procrastination that's not quite procrastination, yet it is. You're not writing, but you kind of are. It's a bit weird. It's 'the gap' - the gap between having completed all the necessary prep to write and actually starting the first draft.

The gap can be an awkward and confusing place. On the one hand, you're happy with your research and preparation. You feel confident about your style and approach. You know the emotional tenor of your characters and the journey that awaits them. You know exactly how scenes will pan out, happy in the knowledge that the audience will laugh and cry in all the right places. Yes, it's all perfect. In your head. You sit down to write the sucker. There's a pause. A hesitation. It's the gap.

What does it mean? Usually, it's a pesky insecurity about ourselves or what we're about to write. The perfect scenes in your head now refuse to flow from the brain to the fingertips to the keyboard to the screen. If it's a spec script, the gap can last a long time; so long, the script may never get started. If it's a commission, the gap lasts as long as the looming deadline. You're forced into writing something, anything, until you somehow bleed a first draft.

It's never ideal. It can send you into a real tailspin. But don't be afraid of the gap. Listen to it. You might feel ready to go and the script could be playing beautifully in your head but the gap's subconscious snag usually indicates some sort of problem. Something that you're not willing to admit. It could be a minor point or a major issue. Don't fret. Go over your notes and seek out the niggling doubts.

Luckily, the gap doesn't happen all the time. It's just one of those things. A unique form of procrastination when you're ready to start writing, but not quite. Yet another cruel and frustrating reminder that this writing lark is, like, hard, innit.


And here, due to popular demand, is more comic book goodness from Sam's Grime City P.D. Enjoy!


Mockwriter said...

I can relate to this, although I often find myself 'falling into the gap' regardless of the warning signs. Good post.

Tim Clague said...

Apologies for being a stuck record - but I find my 'crazy tim charts' (tm) prevent this from occurring. Which is why I do 'em.

Danny Stack said...

Mockwriter: phew, not just me then!

Tim: you're the only person in the world who can understand those 'crazy Tim charts'. Freak!

Unknown said...

Being smack dab in the middle of the gap at the moment, this post could not have been more perfectly timed!

I've found that there's a difference between the necessary gap, those couple of days or even weeks to let the prep settle in my brain before I'm ready to dive in to 'Fade in', and the panic-arghIcan'twritethisIcan'twritethisIcan'twritethis-gap and the trick is not to let the former morph into the latter when you're not looking!

Tim Clague said...

Bow before the chart!