Manic or Methodical?

October 12, 2017

As I work through draft two of our feature script, Sugar Pine, I am thinking constantly about process. I need to be methodical in writing if it’s to get done, and it took me a couple years to realize this (with the help of books on writing, such as Stephen King’s book On Writing) about myself. Every day I clear at least two hours in the morning and get somewhere in the ballpark of five script pages written. Then I teach for a couple hours in the afternoon. Nice. 


Recently, though, I’ve been hearing stories about filmmakers and screenwriters that charge through scripts in five days or less. They talk about the process as a sort of manic sweat, one in which they’re seemingly possessed by the voice of God, and their words pour out as fast as fingers can twitch. It sounds wonderful. I imagine it eliminates any second-guessing or mind filtration system that might hinder the creative process. That’s something I want… but it has never been the way I work. I wonder if it’s something that can be learned or should be learned, this manic process. I wonder if superior artistry comes from it. I don’t know.


I do know that I want to create something daily and ideally through writing. The nature of these five day writing fevers in which entire scripts get written, makes them (I think) impossible to sustain beyond the five days. If I were to write in manic patches, I think I’d feel a building anxiety between the patches. I’d feel like I was loosing the rhythm and I’d worry that I might never get back to it to start again. It’s a different lifestyle, I suppose. 


Still, I wonder what is gained and lost from both the methodical approach and the manic approach. Does one produce a more alive, affecting product than the other? Lemme know, wouldya?



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