Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Another word about deadlines

As we at the Grind, by which I mean me at the Grind, often do, I'd like to clarify the previous blog entry, as I have been getting a couple of questions about it.

While I think that imposing a deadline can be a very good thing for a first draft, I do NOT recommend imposing deadlines for final drafts, unless you've found that it works for you.

I like to work in a world where I will do 1-2 drafts in a day for x number of days until the project is done. Then, I will vet that script with a select group of people whose opinions I trust. Then, I will do the same thing, over and over. For every x number of drafts I do, I will ask for an opinion, sometimes from the same person, sometimes from another person. For me, I know that usually by the 10th draft, a script is solid enough to stand on it's own and after 20 drafts I've cleared out all the bugs down to the smallest typos. But, that doesn't work for everyone, or possibly anyone else.

It's not always a good idea to give a time limit for a final draft because yes, it does, or could, lower what you would consider your best work. Only after mulling things over, stewing on them, and kicking them around in your brain will you be able to see if there is a clear reason for what you are doing. On the other hand, professional writers work on deadlines constantly, and if might be good to get in the habit of learning a skill like that, if it works for you.

An exercise I like to do is AFTER writing a first draft of a script, step away from it for a month and start a new project, then, come back to in 2 weeks-1 month later. After that amount of time, you'll be able to have a new perspective on your script. Then, take your time molding and crafting your story, your characters, and your dialogue. Whenever I do one of my "cycles", I try to step away from the script for a couple of days until I get notes so I can see the script with a clear head. I recommend this to everyone, because having good friend to tell you what sucks or what doesn't in your script is invaluable. Not your mother, either. They love everything you do, even the horse manure.

The only deadline that should be imposed is if an outside force (i.e. contest, fellowship, or, god willing, client) put an outside deadline on you. But then again, that's how my mind work. It's all about what works for you to create the best product in the end. And even after it's a finished product, who knows in a year you might think of a brilliant piece you want to add, and I encourage that too, if it works for you.

P.S.-Part of the joy of writing comes in finding what methodology works for you. If you're a chronic procrastinator, or work really well on a deadline, consider setting a deadline up...who knows, it might work for you.