Writing can be a daunting task, and oftentimes the hardest part of the process is facing that blank page. So, what can you do to overcome these obstacles and what steps can you take to get your story back on track when you feel like you’ve hit a wall?
We’re taking a look back at our conversations with past panelists for their advice on overcoming the common challenges writers face and finding your way back into your story.
Here are five tips for tackling writer’s block from past AFF panelists and celebrated writers/creators in film and television:
1. SHIFT YOUR FOCUS
Don’t get stuck writing something if it’s not working. Don’t get afraid of your work. If you have a feature and it’s dying, or you have a piece that’s not quite getting itself together and it’s making you not want to write it, write something else until you can write it again. Don’t stop writing, just write something else.
-Courtney Kemp (creator/showrunner Power) at AFF 2017
2. OPEN YOUR STORY UP TO NEW SOLUTIONS
One of the classic writers dilemmas is that you get stuck—and the reason that you’re stuck is because you’ve got a problem and your solution is not working. What you have to do is be able to toss it out and put yourself in the position of that character and think of how they would resolve the situation.
-Al Reinert (writer Apollo 13) at AFF 1995
3. LET EMOTION DRIVE YOUR WRITING
I think all of us are sort of terrorized by the blank page…and what it really all boils down to is “What are you feeling emotionally as
a person?” And with that, there is no way to keep that off the page.
-Damen Lindelof (writer/creator Watchmen, The Leftovers, Lost) at AFF 2012
4. GET YOUR FIRST DRAFT DOWN
I trust the mess that I’m going to make in the first draft…Just get to the end of the draft, and then it’s so much easier to go back and say, “Oh, well that sucks. Well this is boring.” But until it’s written, I don’t know what it is.
-Nicole Holofcener (writer/director Land of Steady Habits, Enough Said, Please Give, Friends with Money, Lovely and Amazing, Walking and Talking) at AFF 2018
5. FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU
It’s whatever process works for you to get something on the page. You’re a writer, and there’s not these arbitrary rules or anything you have to set for yourself to feel that way…the most important thing is actually doing the damn thing, and that’s all.
-Zack Akers (co-founder of Two-Up; writer/producer Limetown, producer 36 Questions, The Wilderness) at AFF 2017
Visit onstory.tv for a closer look inside the creative process from today’s leading writers and filmmakers.
Interested in submitting to our competition? Submit before our Early Bird Deadline on March 27, 2020 to enter your work before prices increase! All entrants will receive free reader comments and Badge discounts to the 2020 Austin Film Festival & Writers Conference. For more info or to submit your story, click here.