- Re-think your story. Look for holes and disconnects, because your story was fine until they occurred. You have to get back to the point just before the story began resembling Swiss cheese.
- Re-work your idea. Whether it's a 2-D story that you're writing on a computer or a story that you're bringing to life in front of a camera, the holes won't fill themselves. Therefore, you sometimes have to make tough choices like cutting or replacing ideas. You have to re-create an atmosphere of order.
- Wait a minute…why isn't this the last step? You said there were 3.
- So, I did.
- But in the same way that this article's original 3-step vision is being blurred into a 5-step vision, your creative eyesight will eventually blur again.
- And again. The atmosphere of order will give way to Entropy. Hey, it's a Law of Physics…what can you do?
- You can get a stronger prescription. Even though you've re-thought and re-worked your project once, scenes will need to be re-shot…again. The budget will fall apart...again. The story will take an unexpected turn…again. You have to keep re-thinking your vision, re-working your story, and renewing your mind!
- That brings us to revision. You have to re-see it in order to re-do it. In this context, revision is a fancy term which means 'filling a stronger prescription'. It is a necessary evil, and only those who brave it are fit for greatness. Think about it: Would you want to read or watch a project done by someone too thoughtless or too egotistical to revise their work? It's a waste of time that could be spent creating…or at least supporting some other creative's worthy (and revised) projects! Revision can take a project from mmK to mmmm-mmmm-GOOD!!!
Your optometrist stares down at you. "You can begin whenever you're ready," she says. You begin reading letters displayed on the wall mere feet away. You're doing a great job, and you're almost done. The only problem is that the letters you name aren't the same as the ones on the wall. Not even close. The optometrist gives you a speech about how you should have come in sooner and writes a prescription for glasses. At first, you're confused. You think, 'I can see just fine. There's nothing wrong with me.' So, the prescription remains posted on your fridge for days, weeks, months. You've been caught in the strange position wherein you know that there is a problem, yet you can't seem to do what's necessary to fix it. Psychologists call it denial. Writers, filmmakers, and optometrists call it 'loss of vision'.
Now, leave the optometrist's office and morph back into the creative that you are. You had an idea, an amazing idea. You just know that this idea would make you the bestseller/best filmmaker/best poet/best astrophysicist/best *insert your niche here* of all time. The problem is that halfway between conceiving the idea and transforming it into something tangible, you lost your eyesight. Your once 20/20 vision is now blurry at best. What do you do about that cloudy vision?
First, you must know that if you had a ground-breaking idea, you can probably get it back. But you must fill out the prescription. There's no prescription to writing or filmmaking, right? There's no elixir you can gargle while standing on your head and facing the sun that will magically turn your creating woes into a slice of genius that's all the rage. Right?
Wrong. While the elixir is currently unfit for human consumption, the safe (read:legal) answer is much simpler than a potion. It requires no ingredients, because it comes from within you. The answer isn't an answer at all, it's a question: "What am I trying to say?"
Not me, you. What are you trying to say?
If you ask yourself this same question while writing a story or even while picking your set pieces, you'll find that your trouble thins out as you answer. "What am I trying to say?" is the question that acts like a mirror. You stand your vision in front of this mirror and get real honest with yourself. You start to see things the way they were intended to be seen.
Paul Rodriguez, a successful actor and comedian said, "Vision without action is daydreaming." And he was right. The first step is to have to vision, but if you do nothing substantive with the vision, it's like it never happened.
What 'prescriptions' have you filled to make your projects better? In other words, have you ever had to admit to a loss of vision and re-adjust? What steps did you take?