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Printed From: NYC Midnight : Creative Writing & Screenwriting
Forum Name: Screenwriting Bar & Lounge
Forum Description: Discuss NYC Midnight Screenwriting Competitions or Screenwriting in general.
Printed Date: 19 Oct 2017 at 1:25am
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 11.10 -

Topic: Nerves!
Posted By: Tynnyt
Subject: Nerves!
Date Posted: 21 Apr 2017 at 7:26am
Soooo, I'm in need of advice!
Recently I've become more and more panicked by writing, to the point where I'm shaking when I sit down at a monitor. It's starting to become a real problem. In both the screen writing comp 16 and short story comp 17 I got through to the second round, but then felt so utterly useless as a writer  I didn't submit anything. Writing is one of the few things I feel passionate about but It's become such a 'thing' I'm now going into this screenwriting comp already dreading it.
Does anyone else find themselves feeling this way? If so, how do you deal with it? I'm at the point where it's making me feel bad about myself as a person and I just don't feel, well, worthy, if that makes sense?
Sorry for the downer of a topic, but any tips for coping with this head nonsense would be very much appreciated at this stage!

-------------" rel="nofollow - Flash Fic Rd 2: Double Fault

Posted By: Emmageek
Date Posted: 21 Apr 2017 at 9:57am
You know you're not alone.  Many times for me it's just avoidance.  Or wanting everything to be perfect.  Big's won't be perfect, it will have deformed ears or fingers that are too long, but it won't be the bundle of joy you were expecting.  And you know what, that's fine.  

Put on some classical music - Mozart is good for changing the brainwaves, get the app "Calm" to help you meditate or just listen to nature sounds, and begin your ritual.  There is a reason for them.  I start with editing something I've done before that is still in work mode before I begin something new.  With the older material, I know what needs to be done - a tweak here or there based on a critique, but it puts you in "write mode". 

Now I write out an outline, put it on index cards, and then long hand.  Once I have done the index cards I want for the day, wrote it out, then it is computer time.  

I don't know if that helps you but it helps me!


Group 46: Crime Caper/delivery service/barista Pig In A Poke

Posted By: stephenmatlock
Date Posted: 21 Apr 2017 at 1:28pm
I feel your pain! I am panicked by the thought that I have to create something that didn't exist. And for me the idea that I might not be able to do it means I've lost my touch. Like a painter who's gone blind or a singer who's gone mute. If I can't make the words become a story--where am I, anymore?

And for me, the answer is to do something else for a while and let it go. I might not get that particular objective done, right now, but I'll do something that engages me separately. Maybe I'll go for a walk. Go out for coffee with a friend. Work on an issue at work. Watch a rom-com or an action-adventure movie. In general, do something else and let my mind handle it without my attention.

Then I just treat it as "The worst that will happen is that it will all be crap. But it will be your crap. And that's good enough."

Hang in there. Talk with us. You're OK. This is all normal. You're not wrong or different or awful. You're just you, and this is you, too.

FFC R2 H69 |" rel="nofollow - Troubles Do Not Exist Inside a Vacuum
FFC R1 H69 |" rel="nofollow - Skim Milk Masquerade

Posted By: Anthonypittore
Date Posted: 21 Apr 2017 at 1:53pm
Two things:

1) have a glass of gin
2) realize this isn't real life

Nothing in the NYCM contests is life changing, good or bad. No matter what you do, you'll either be disappointed for a week or two or you'll be happy for a week or two.

Don't worry about impressing anyone. Do your best, work your hardest, and rock on.

Stay Scary,

Anthony" rel="nofollow -

Read My Round 2 Script:

Posted By: lisafox10800
Date Posted: 21 Apr 2017 at 4:13pm
Feeling this way took me away from writing for 20 years.  20 YEARS away from something that was so much a part of my identity.  

On a whim, I entered Flash at the last second last summer.  And I did better than I thought I would.  I was feeling awesome when I got through to the semi-finals... and then utterly, horribly depressed when I was cut from the last round.  And for the most recent short story contest, "just" missing the next round with HM didn't help my psyche much, either.  I had a bit of a pity party and thought, eh, what's the point.  

BUT...I decided to write anyway.  Got together with a few others from the forums who also came thisclose to Round 2 and picked a random group's prompts, and just carved out time to write.  And it felt good.  I wrote for me.  Not for judges.  Not for a contest.  Just because I felt like it.  

And it was liberating.

Now I'm getting back in the saddle for Screenwriting.  I have NO IDEA what I am doing but am just going to have fun with it.

I say this because I've come to realize that life is way, way too short to let fear hold you back.  Will any of us here write a best-selling novel?  Will any of us produce an award-winning script?  Who knows.  And honestly, does it really matter? 

As writers, it is normal for us to be our own worst critics.  And sometimes success can be scary. (You mentioned you advanced in both contests - that is fantastic!  But it can be terrifying as you question yourself - do I have it in me to do it again?)

I can tell you, with certainty from my own experience, with 20 years between the final line of the last poem I wrote in my twenties to the opening of my first-ever flash fiction story at the age of 41, you DO have it in you.

And the beautiful thing about this community is that we all 'get' it.  We're all in the same boat.  And we're here to help.

So grab those prompts tonight with both hands.  Shake the hell out of them.  Turn them upside down and backward.  Twist them inside out.  And have a blast doing it.  

Just write.  Just. Write.  You CAN do this.

And don't forget to breathe.  

-------------" rel="nofollow - FFC 2017 Round 2 SciFi" rel="nofollow - FFC 2017 Round 1 Political Satire

Posted By: LoboGal26
Date Posted: 22 Apr 2017 at 1:12am
My guess is you started writing because you love to write and you have something to share. It's an easy guess to make because I think it applies to everyone who tries these challenges.

My first go at these challenges was in the 2014 short story version. I had retired from my 25+ career in defense and gov't service, moved to the middle of rural nowhere, planted a garden, got chickens, and thought I have found the next version of my life. Nope, instead I found gloomy isolation. Since I'd always wanted to be a writer I applied for an MA program and signed up for my first NYC challenge. My prompts were SciFi/video games/a housekeeper. SciFi!? Ugh!

The story I submitted was rough, but I had fun and played around with the story; I may even use it as a basis for some future creation.

I've delved headlong into screenwriting and nonfiction, and although more times than not my family's response is "I don't get it" when I excitedly let them read something, I won't stop; I write for me. My characters use me to tell their stories. That is more satisfying than the judgment of some unknown people who are probably looking for something different than I'm offering. (My SciFi story was comedic...set in Farmville...and the SciFi purist judges were offended.  That was their issue, not mine.)

Write for you.

R1 H33:" rel="nofollow - Selfie

Posted By: adreens
Date Posted: 22 Apr 2017 at 10:01pm
Hey there.  I definitely relate to this.  

One thing that I've found is that sitting down to write makes me anxious, staring at the blank screen creates all this pressure for me.  I've found it very helpful to talk out what I want my story to be and record myself.  Somehow speaking it out loud is less pressure for me and then I talk out my story until it starts to make sense.  At that point it's easier to go ahead and write it.

Going for walks clears my head a lot too.  If I start feeling stressed or down about what I'm trying to write I go outside and walk around the block.  Getting myself into a new environment away from the pressures of writing is helpful so that I can create.

Also, surrounding myself with the kind of creativity I like is really helpful to get myself inspired and in the right mood.  Music is so helpful for me, if I'm starting to get stumped I'll turn on some of my favorite music and listen to it and remember why I love creativity, then go back to my writing.

I've also started looking at my scripts for this contest as first drafts.  I know I'll never create a masterpiece in 7 days or 2 days or whatever, so I use this as a chance to learn how to push myself into new genres.  Then after the contest I'll revise it and improve it.  In a way, these contests are kind of like going to the gym for me, keeping my writing muscles strong so that I can keep writing on my own. That perspective has helped me a lot to take the pressure off.

Good luck! :)

Short Screenplay Challenge
R4 "#solidarity"

R3G1 "Love at First Reel"

R2G22 "Looking for Death"

R1G22 "Conformity"

Posted By: emdashem
Date Posted: 29 Apr 2017 at 11:05am
When I feel this way, I tell myself, "Oh, this is the part where you want to give up!" -- as in, this despair and terror is part of the process, not the end of the road.  

I  believe that writing something good isn't the main goal. Writing something is the goal. When you complete an assignment, even if you hate it (I often don't like what I submit), you're learning to write better, and to persevere despite your fears (essential for any writer).

Posted By: MaHaBone
Date Posted: 29 Apr 2017 at 1:02pm
I've been here. That feeling if you're not writing something good, you're wasting your time.

My personal epiphany was to give myself permission to write like sh*t. Hot garbage. Puke a bunch of pure crap.  Flat characters, contrived plot, babbling prose, cheap cliches, bad grammar, the whole nine.

Then go to bed.

Then get up, and look at the turd you laid, and bit by bit, fix it. As they say, writing is rewriting.

R1:H44:" rel="nofollow - Pressing the Flesh
R2:H3:" rel="nofollow - Beef

Posted By: Vernacula
Date Posted: 29 Apr 2017 at 1:29pm
My trick? I write everything in an email draft first. EVERYTHING. Email is not intimidating. I've worked as a writer for 15+ years, and have always used the draft trick. It's just a brain bait-and-switch to decrease white-page intimidation. You're just casually writing an email. See? LOL

Hope you're doing well!

-------------" rel="nofollow - FFC 2017 R1: Cirque du Fae" rel="nofollow - SSC 2017 R1: Serious Only Need Apply - 1st
Screenplay Challenge Finalist 2016 (HM)

Posted By: stephenmatlock
Date Posted: 29 Apr 2017 at 1:49pm
My tricks are as follows:

I take the prompt, and think "what would be the least predictable story here?"

Then I create a general idea of a plot that meets the requirements but isn't the predictable story.

I start thinking up characters to fit the story, with names or personalities.

I write a little about their characteristics. I do some small dialogs with them. I try to figure out what connects them and what disrupts them. What do they like about the other person, and what jerks them off. I begin to overwrite madly, making them say the most outlandish things and act in the most astonishing ways. The key here is, I think, to make them as sharp and bright and different as possible.

Then I try to fit them into the plot where they fit.

The first draft is just putting the chess pieces on the board.

I leave that for a day.

Then I come back and start killing off unneeded characters and scenes. "Could I do this with a line vs. a scene?"

that's the second draft.

Then the third draft is highlighting the characters and the plot through word choices and rewriting.

That's the longest, but as I do so, the plot and the characters start shining.

To me, the key is strong characters followed by forceful actions. In a story IN MY OPINION a character or speech or scene that isn't strong and sharp isn't going to be interesting to the reader.

Then, when I've trimmed the script down to 253 pages, I start the denial part about having to reduce this to a 12-page script.

FFC R2 H69 |" rel="nofollow - Troubles Do Not Exist Inside a Vacuum
FFC R1 H69 |" rel="nofollow - Skim Milk Masquerade

Posted By: shanan187
Date Posted: 29 Apr 2017 at 7:44pm
Originally posted by lisafox10800 lisafox10800 wrote:

I have NO IDEA what I am doing but am just going to have fun with it.

I have recently adopted this philosophy for just about everything in life. If the shoe fits... LOL

Seriously though, I've struggled with the same feelings of fear, crushing self doubt, inadequacy, imposter syndrome, you name it. When it comes down to it, you just have to tell that nay-sayer in your head to shut up, and then do your thing. Or maybe turn that voice into a character, write him or her into a story, and then kill 'em off!

R2 G64:" rel="nofollow - Fire in the Hole
R1 G64:" rel="nofollow - Slow Spiral

Posted By: Tynnyt
Date Posted: 29 Apr 2017 at 11:00pm
Thanks for the supportive words everyone. 

This week has been a tough one. I tried to take the 'eyes down, get it done' approach, but that didn't seem to go so well. I was thrown from the start with romance as a genre. That's so far from my comfort zone it's untrue. Give me political satire any day!

I'd actually booked the week off work with the intention of putting a few days to this and then doing a lot of other stuff for 'me'. Unfortunately, those obnoxious little head demons came back in full force and I've spent most of the week staring at the blank screen feeling increasingly sh*tty.

About 18hours ago I had a page of a script I thought couldn't go anywhere. It's now 4am here and I've just submitted something I'm not really happy with and I'm pretty sure doesn't cover one of the prompts.

That said, I *did* submit! Wahoo!

It's a comfort to know I'm not the only one who goes through this stuff. I feel a bit daft sometimes talking about it, but it's got to the point (esp with writing) where it's having such an effect I know something needs to change. Confused

-------------" rel="nofollow - Flash Fic Rd 2: Double Fault

Posted By: Annerocious
Date Posted: 29 Apr 2017 at 11:50pm
I had this exact feeling for this prompt! It was hard labor all the way through, and second guessing. I do like the structure and deadline of this competition to get me to go to work, but the arbitrary elements and judging and time lock all work against getting a flow going and being happily surprised by what turns up.

No good advice to get around it other than don't only slave away doing this. I got stuck once and just started a novel for no other reason than it's paralyzing, this form. Reading all these answers, though, it's obviously not just us. 


Round 1 Heat 21" rel="nofollow - The Gentle Sex

Posted By: DeniseMcD
Date Posted: 01 May 2017 at 6:06pm
I'm with you!!!! But this time I was out of the country with no email and didn't get the assignment till Thursday afternoon. One day to ferment the perameters in my brain, one day to throw something together and only enough time left for a spell and grammar check. I re-read my submission on Sunday and wanted to throw up. SO disappointing that I couldn't have done something better.

Posted By: Annerocious
Date Posted: 01 May 2017 at 8:06pm
Originally posted by DeniseMcD DeniseMcD wrote:

I'm with you!!!! But this time I was out of the country with no email and didn't get the assignment till Thursday afternoon. One day to ferment the perameters in my brain, one day to throw something together and only enough time left for a spell and grammar check. I re-read my submission on Sunday and wanted to throw up. SO disappointing that I couldn't have done something better.

That sounds like a nightmare. Good for you for finishing. Never surrender!

Round 1 Heat 21" rel="nofollow - The Gentle Sex

Posted By: DeniseMcD
Date Posted: 01 May 2017 at 8:56pm
Nope. Muddled through. Thanks!

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