What do you do to regain confidence when your ideas don’t seem to be working or you can’t find an approach?
A very smart writer colleague — and I can’t remember exactly which one, so she’ll remain nameless — takes the time to write a letter to herself when she starts a screenplay, describing how excited she feels to be working on it. Then, when the darkest day hits and she can’t go on, she opens the letter and reads it. That gives her the oomph to finish.
I think that’s remarkable. And completely insane. I mean, who writes letters to themselves? I could never do it. But if that would help you, be my guest.
As I’ve mentioned in countless other columns, I write out-of-sequence. So if I get to a scene that I just can’t crack, I move on to something else.
The greater problem is when I don’t want to be working on a specific project at all. Since I don’t have a magic letter-to-my-future-self, my fallback is to change my work patterns. I’ll write all night, or at a hotel, or longhand on the beach. I’ll write scenes that could never possibly be in the movie, just to break the characters out of the plot shackles I’ve set for them. (I find loud, shouting arguments — which I never normally write — are great for this purpose.)
A lot of it is just facing down your own self-doubt and attacking it. Easier said than done.