Do you prefer to work on one project at a time, from start to finish? Or do you prefer to keep a couple things going at once, maybe writing a couple pages on each a day?
North Hollywood, CA
When the situation allows — that is, when I’m not horribly behind on a project I owe somebody — I prefer to work on one thing at a time. Unfortunately, I’m usually behind. As of this moment (March 2004), I’m on my third draft of CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, my second draft of CORPSE BRIDE, and finishing my first draft of TARZAN. Generally, they get prioritized based on how soon the movie shoots, so CHARLIE gets the bulk of my energy, even though TARZAN is horribly overdue.
I would never try to write two first drafts at the same time — there’s too much planning involved. But a lot of rewriting can effectively be done in quick bursts, so working on multiple projects in one day isn’t as onerous as it seems. Once you’ve written the screenplay, it’s pretty easy to get back in the right mindset when a director calls with a quick change.
Television writers in particular have to be ready to work on any script at any time, since any given moment they have an episode in outline, an episode in prep, an episode shooting, and an episode in post. Of course, television also benefits from having characters and storylines that continue — you’re not reinventing every 60 pages.