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    How much time do you guys spend just sitting there when starting a screenplay?
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    I imagine that when you have a basic outline of a screenplay, there is a more clear cut idea of what has to be done: each scene has already been organized with a particular purpose, and now it's time to put it into words.

    But before there is even a basic idea, what do you guys spend time doing?

    And by "before there is even a basic idea" I mean you might even know what you want the screen play to be about, maybe how it starts or even ends, but there is still yet to be a coherent narrative, and thus the full idea isn't there.

    I find I'm just sitting down, and just simulating outcomes of various choices the characters make - choices that are limited to what I can actually film. I'll go over and over again what could happen; sometimes if my vague idea shows a glimmer of hope but requires me to write it down to confirm this, I'll do that. I've tried some free writing at times as well. But mostly it's just sitting there, sometimes drifting into sleep, waking up, trying again.

    I also find I have to take a break, as in a two day break. I find I become bent on a particular part of the story to work, and i'll replay it in my head again and again to try to make it work "this time" but to no avail. The problem with this is that it's impossible to disassociate from that idea if you attempt to abandon it, because I have gone over it so many times as being apart of the script.

    I'm curious to know what other people do in this somewhat slow and arduous part of writing.

    The best,

    Re


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    I used to spend a lot of time walking around with an idea, literally getting up early and taking long walks working out certain issues in my head. As soon as I get back I usually have a clear picture of where I'm off to for the day. Sometimes a walk to a restauraunt first thing gets me going and i usually either work on new scene or read over work from day before.When I had a writing partner and we were under a deadline an afternoon walk in the hills after a long writing session usually refocused us for the rest of the day. Sometimes a field trip is necessary to see the layout of a particular town or a technical issue ( one story we were working on a very technical maneuver on a train siding and were able to safely examine it). If a scene or idea seems integral to your story you might try setting the scene you've already written aside and writing it over without looking at the work. Sometimes you'll get the scene down to its essential elements and you've eliminated the fluff. Not always, sometimes it just confirms it doesn't work and time to pitch it.


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    I write next to never, but when I DO write, I simply keep a file/note on my phone/whatever with notes, ideas, etc. Literally every single potentially good detail about the story I can think of ("guy goes here." "guy does this." random jokes, details, etc. etc.). Any plot points I'm certain I like, I wrote those down, and when I get to a point in the story where I'm not sure if A, B, C, etc. is the best choice for what should happen then, start kinda. . .brainstorming(?) the results of each choice ("if guy does A, then this could happen, or this could happen or this could happen." "If guy does B, this could happen, or this could happen" etc. etc.). Just getting everything single thing you can think of in a broad outline/story structure sense down on paper/computer/phone in some tangible form you can look over seems to help. . . you get your thoughts organized, don't forget anything good, can sort of see it all laid out in front of you and start working it over in your mind more easily. Eventually, A, B, or C (or whatever) should reveal itself after enough pondering to be the "right" choice and you eliminate the others, and keep doing that 'til you have a story.

    As to the answer to your original question, so far like 3 years and counting.


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    I recommend completing a script before walking away from it. Unfinished stuff, and I have plenty of it, rarely gets concluded.


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    I find that actually literally sitting down at the computer, looking at the screen, in an attempt to generate/refine story ideas ends up being unproductive. Long walks/drives/rides, exercising, etc. are good ways to let your mind wander, not pressuring yourself to come up with ideas, but just letting the ideas take their time, creating themselves out of free associations with stimuli from the surroundings, often in the subconscious. Start out with whatever germ of an idea is there, and let your mind wander with it. But of course, everyone's creative process is different to some degree.


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    Quote Originally Posted by KMR View Post
    I find that actually literally sitting down at the computer, looking at the screen, in an attempt to generate/refine story ideas ends up being unproductive. Long walks/drives/rides, exercising, etc. are good ways to let your mind wander, not pressuring yourself to come up with ideas, but just letting the ideas take their time, creating themselves out of free associations with stimuli from the surroundings, often in the subconscious. Start out with whatever germ of an idea is there, and let your mind wander with it. But of course, everyone's creative process is different to some degree.
    https://youtu.be/jdZ4vSXeXJk


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    I was about to say the same. Nothing is more useless than sitting at a computer waiting for inspiration to strike. The only urge that usually strikes me is the one to peruse the more unseemly corners of the internet. I usually kick a story idea around in my head for months until I feel it's reached a critical mass. Then I finally sit and throw it down as fast as possible. Sitting down to write without having your major story problems figured out is asking for frustration. Things often evolve, and you might come up with a new twist or something even better along the way, but always have a game plan. Then the day to day writing problems to solve are mostly about scene work, dialogue and visuals.
    "Money doesn't make films...You just do it and take the initiative." - Werner Herzog


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    Very useful information offered in this thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by OldCorpse View Post
    Thank you for sharing the informative video.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rehdarh View Post
    I'm curious to know what other people do in this somewhat slow and arduous part of writing.
    I've found it useful to mimic the process of the mighty John Cleese: https://vimeo.com/89936101

    There are numerous ways to engage with the liminal state necessary during this part of the process. Salvador Dali (or Edison, I can't remember) would hold spare change or keys in his hand and then relax in a comfortable chair, hand hovering above the floor. The moment he fell asleep, he dropped the coins, startling himself awake. He'd immediately get back to work. Neuroscientists Terrence Sejnowski and Dr. Barbara Oakley refer to this as the 'diffused mode' of thinking. It can be accessed through exercise, taking a shower, a walk, all kinds of ways. Complementing the 'diffused mode' is the 'focused mode'. Both are vital. Not only to creativity, but to learning and memory formation. The Dali(?) anecdote is from an excellent (free!) online course that I wholeheartedly recommend called "Learning How To Learn". Link: https://www.coursera.org/learn/learning-how-to-learn

    I do various tricks to access what an early teacher of mine called 'active/guided daydreaming'. The two practices during this stage for me are fingers moving steadily on the typewriter - focused mode - and active daydreaming - diffused mode.

    All that said, if I'm on a work deadline, which is most of the time these days, I have to do whatever I gotta do to get the pages done.

    Hope this proves useful for you and good luck with your work.


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    I recall reading many, many years ago that there was a prominent Hollywood sitcom writer who "wrote" by getting into his car and driving around LA. Once an idea popped up, he simply recorded it onto a hand-held tape (do people remember tape?) recorder. Lorenzo Music, creator and the executive producer of the "Bob Newhart Show", apparently (re)wrote scripts by going into an adult establishment and staying there until close.

    PS. As a side note - does anyone use voice recognition software for dialog?


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    Quote Originally Posted by DLD View Post
    PS. As a side note - does anyone use voice recognition software for dialog?
    Tried it years ago, too awkward for me. I can type just as fast as I can speak, more accurately. I tend to subvocalize my dialogue so I know it sounds right coming out of a person's mouth. On the rare occasions I've written with a collaborator, we do throw dialogue around the room. But I try not to lean on any method or location to write, otherwise it becomes a crutch. I mostly write in my office chair, in front of a computer, but I've written just about everywhere, on the sofa, in coffee shops, in my car on my phone while waiting for my wife to finish shopping.
    "Money doesn't make films...You just do it and take the initiative." - Werner Herzog


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