When you fall off the writing wagon, you may hear a well-meaning friend, colleague, family member or mentor tell you to “Just Write!” This is a version of the Nike credo, “Just Do It!” People say this when they don’t really have useful advice to share, because it sounds like useful advice.
Most likely we say these words when we feel the blocked writer in our life is thinking and stressing too much about their troubles. Their problem starts to create stress for us as we listen to them. We want them to be quiet, and maybe if they were writing they wouldn’t be as inclined to talk so much.
It is true that when you stop thinking ‘about’ your writing and engage in the practice of actually writing (even if you’re uncertain about where it is going) good things can happen and logjams can loosen. The thing is, most writers who are avoiding their work have already told themselves to ‘Just write!’ countless times, without good results. To hear these words from others only accentuates feelings of guilt and discouragement.
I was hoping that the 1997 movie “Just Write” would serve to elucidate these matters and assist me with my post today, but I was disappointed. In this “Cinderfella” story, a depressed, balding, tour bus driving Jeremy Piven with little going for him ends up writing a screenplay for a beautiful, famous actress (Sherilyn Fenn) who somehow falls in love with him, and they live happily ever after.
Unlike the audience and everyone else in the movie, Sherilyn thinks Jeremy is an experienced screenwriter. When Jeremy seeks wise counsel from a bartender about how to write a screenplay, he is told to get drunk, because” that’s what writers do.” Hijinks ensue, he alienates the movie star, then has an agonizing, couple-of-hours ordeal with writer’s block. But before you know it he opens the floodgates and becomes totally immersed in a 48 hour writing binge that results in a fantastic screenplay (evidently not the one they used for the “Just Write” movie) that wins back the the heart of the movie star.
I’ve written before about the tried and true Hollywood cure for writing blocks – it almost always involves a conflicted protagonist who confronts and resolves personal issues, and then finds true love. If nothing else is working for you, you might want to find a movie star and give this method a try.