The introverted screenwriter sits at their desk, slumped in their chair, hypnotised by the faint glow of their laptop, where they remain until that laborious first draft is finally finished. But writing is rewriting, and so follows the third, fourth and fifth draft; their work only being done when the feeling of dissatisfaction that roars in the pit of the writer’s stomach is soothed to a dull rumble.
Sometimes, we have to step outside and become a part of the world again, despite our best efforts to bury our head in the pages of our work.
Whether it’s a walk around the block or a hike in the mountains, stepping away from our desk can often give us a fresh perspective. Firstly, there’s the humbling reminder of our own insignificance; depressing, maybe, but also quite freeing. Secondly, we’re given the chance to consider not only our own place in the world, but the place of our work and of the story we’re telling.
Recently, I left the comfort of my desk to explore the Yorkshire Dales in search of a location for a new production, eventually settling on a stunning spot overlooking a village west of Leyburn. Thorough scouting leads to quality footage and we were confident that we’d found the perfect setting for this story: a coming-of-age dramedy following three boys on the day they receive their exam results.
When you find the right location, this wonderful thing happens where you’re able to step into the world of your film. Suddenly, the screenplay feels revitalised with endless opportunities. New ideas start to reveal themselves. Ideas can be like home invaders: they come swinging at you so wildly that you’ve no choice but to deal with them. When that happens, the writer needs to embrace the temptation to revisit their screenplay and implement all of these new ideas that make their story world seem so alive: the distant horn of a train or the old ruins of a castle. As a result, screenwriting can become this beautifully symbiotic process where your story world continues to reveal itself, if only you are willing to look and listen.
There's no substitute for the real thing, so if you’re ever feeling stuck, close your laptop, step away from your desk, and go out for a walk.
Because the world reveals itself to those who travel on foot.