Write On Wednesday – Bricks or Plaster?

“Don’t write too much. Concentrate your sweat on one story, rather than dissipate it over a dozen.” ~ Jack London.

Fam, I’ve been participating in an experiment. 

I’ve always fancied myself a deliberate writer. Instead of churning out half-baked tales like twitter thoughts, I prefer to write a few things well.

I take my time. 

Now, some might argue I take too much time. And I have to admit, it does make it difficult for me to become a prolific fiction writer. A recovering journalist, I spent years spitting out stories on deadline, so I not so unconsciously decided that when I weave words just for me, I was going to savor the process.

The result? I have a book and a few screenplays I’m proud to put my name on. The problem? I work in Hollywood. And in this town – where you’re expected to have fresh writing samples every other day – I fall short.

At least that’s what a panelists told me last year. As a rule, I don’t normally attend industry panels, because they usually turn out to be a collection of folks telling me what I already know. But every now and again, someone will drop a reminder or kernel of knowledge that hits home. For me, that someone was screenwriter/producer, Charles Murray.

His secret to success, Charles said, was that he always has stories percolating. The exact opposite of Jack London’s advice, he shared that we should work on multiple scripts at a time – grinding on  one as our main focus and doodling on the others – so that when the opportunity arises, we always have a finished script, treatment, something to show.

At the time, I was in a complete writer’s funk, so I took Charles’ advice. And you know what happened, Fam? Absolutely nothing.

O.K., no, that’s not true. I wrote a lot. But by the end of 2011 – packs of yellow index cards and reams of printer paper later – I hadn’t finished anything.

That’s when it hit me. I’m not an A.D.D. writer. I’m a deliberate one. More writer/producer, than writer for hire, it’s just not in my nature to prolifically pen tales, throw them in a drawer and wait for opportunity to show up.

I gots to make my own.

And that takes time. But that’s O.K. I’m building a career here.

And like an architect constructing her dream home, I prefer to use bricks, not plaster.

Sister/Brother writers, what works for you?


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