When Laryngitis Is a Good Thing
I finished a screenplay months ago, and I've been trying my darndest to really bring it to life ever since. It's like I've got a billion puzzle pieces which would make a beautiful picture but there are too many edges which don't quite fit yet. It's frustrating and annoying, but most of all it makes me feel like I've wasted my time on something that will never pan out. I haven't given up. What I have done is tried to re-write scenes and more scenes, eventually deciding to start the entire process again with a clearer idea of where to place the pieces. It's working, and then it's not working. As if to give itself a break from the impact of me beating my head against the proverbial wall, my brain reminded me of an old screeplay idea that I originally got while writing the one which is giving me so much trouble now.
So, I bit, and you won't believe what happened.
I started writing the new screenplay and the first part of it came together so easily and clearly that I could have sworn I was simply copying the words straight off my brain. It's almost as if the words were waiting for me, not the other way around. It was scary how easy it seemed. Maybe I'm jumping the gun a bit, because I am not even finished with the first act yet. But I'm not worried, not in the least. I know how the first act goes. And the second. And...you guessed it, the third. This script seems like it was meant to be written. And I thought to myself: Self, what changed between the prior script and the one you're working on now? For the life of it, myself could not come up with any answers. Then, a lightbulb went off. Myself said: Wow! It's mighty quiet in here. Where is that constant negative chatter that used to hang off the walls and rise from the floorboards of this mind? Where is the inner critic?
I still don't know where my inner critic is hiding. I'm sure he's there somewhere, but I think he has laryngitis. You see, he tries to speak up every now and again. He says things like, "Ahem, ahem. Might I have a word?" The only difference between now and before is that I answer him with a stern, "Nope!" Wait a minute? Aren't you supposed to let your inner critic speak? You are, after all, your best critic, right? Right and wrong. You are your best critic, but you only come into that role AFTER the first draft is finished. Whether it be the first draft of an entire piece (screenplay, prose fiction, memoir) or just a first draft of a sentence, you have to allow yourself to think through the problems and make it work. Your inner critic's job is to tear down whatever you build up. That is a worthy practice, but you wouldn't demolish a half-finished edifice. Why tear down unfinished work?
Do yourself a favor and give your inner critic laryngitis. That means that once his condition is over (once your first draft is done), he's free to speak again. Until then, he has the right to remain silent.
Until the next scene,