Today, kiddies, we’re going to discuss Shiny Object Syndrome. If you don’t know what that is, read this.
If you’re too lazy to click and read, here’s the jist of it:
You discover a great story idea. You leap into it, both barrels of your creativity blazing. Research! Brainstorming! Characters! OMG, this is so incredible, a sure fire spec script sale in the making!
One month later: You’re still into it, but the prep work has become something of a slog. Once you’ve dug into the heart of the story, there are some difficult choices to make in terms of the narrative and characters. You’ve tested out a bunch of them. Some of them work… maybe. Others, not so sure. But you’ll lick this problem! It’s a million dollar idea!
Two months later: What exactly is keeping you from starting the script? This nondescript sense of unease. You know something is just not right. Well, you’re still not quite sure about where the story is going. And the concept. You keep trying to reach back through time to remember being excited about it, but what exactly was it again…
Three months later: You started writing the script, but then out of the blue, BOOM! You came up with a new idea and it is freaking amazeballs! So of course, you set the first project aside because, hey, this one is the real deal, and you’re so excited, you just leap into research, brainstorming, characters…
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
This is the bane of my writing existence. I say that with sheer desperation and disgussssst.
It happens entirely too much with me. I have problems with focus and discipline as it is – it’s truly been a lifelong struggle – but story ideas are like my crack. I love coming up with new ones. I love getting high on the spark and excitement of building out a plot, an arc, and new characters to toy with. I don’t even have to seek it out, crack finds me. I mean ideas… ideas find me. They buzz around my head like gnats or jump out on street corners saying “Say, man… you, uh, wanna write some stories?” < sniff, shifty eyes >
“Fuck, maannn. I just started some new shit last week. Why you gotta come at me now, bruh?”
Walk away, kids. Just walk away. It’s ok to shake hands and get a good look at the product… maybe take down his number for later… but walk away. “Aight, man. Naw, we cool. We cool.”
This latest crack idea came while I was on a “break” from my current #SixWeeksSpec script. I’d hit a snag last week when I came to a tough scene so I took a 2-day breather and that seemed to help. I went back with a fresh set of eyes and made an ugly decision bearable and fought my way through it. I may or may not even like it in the end and totally nix it, but at least I worked through it. BUT THEN… I hit another weird snag this week while trying to strengthen the 2nd main character and his story (B-story). Ugh! So I took it back to the basics of an outline in order to re-wrap my head around the whole thing. Then I took another “break”.
Here’s where the shiny thing came in: On this “break”, I was talking to a friend and re-hashing childhoods when I became completely enamored with her crazy life story and WHOOSH! “Oh my god, that is insane! Oh my god, I have to write that! Oh my god, that would work so well for this character…………” You can imagine the rest. I started having late night booty calls with this shiny new thing and the next thing I know I’m writing a scene.
A scene? A fucking scene from another story? What the fuck, Despina? You’re sorta committed to something else here. What are you thinking?
I can’t keep doing this. Nothing gets finished. I set a goal. I made a commitment. I want to get shit done and out there, otherwise what the hell am I doing?
So I put the hot young thing to bed and went back to my Rachel. My crazy crazy Rachel.
Moral(s) of the story? 1) Crack is whack 2) Don’t stray from a commitment – even a self-induced one and even if the excitement and novelty has temporarily faded. Stay the course and focus on the project at hand. The end result will be typing that glooorrrious FADE OUT and the almighty feeling of completion and satisfaction 3) Don’t get stuck watching late night back-to-back episodes of Friends when you should either be sleeping or writing because it will invade your brain and you’ll wind up quoting it or referring to it all the time and strangely craving sandwiches and adding weird inflections in every day communication (could that BE any more lame?) and making stupid dinosaur jokes with your kids that fly waaaay over their heads and…
And 4) Never forget why you chose a disco ball as your pic of the week 🙂 Listen at your own risk, you Vegas hoes!