WRITING: Writing vs. Development

For over a week now, I’ve been in a bit of a seemingly paradoxical situation. I’ve been very creative and getting  lot done on them… but my page count has stubbornly refused to life above zero. Why: Development and editing. Two processes I love, but don’t really lead to progression on any of my scripts. So, are these processes valuable, or a distraction to avoid the potential agony of writing through my block?


Development is a lot of fun for me. I consider development everything before the script, though I expect some writers consider the outline a separate stage. I love developing a new series, fleshing out the cast while listening to music and figuring out who belongs in this world, and how their character intertwines with the others. I love imagining the energy in the room when two particular characters are talking, their dynamics, and how episodes would build from that. I enjoy placing act breaks, and building the episode’s pacing around that*. I even enjoy the fantasy casting process, though I try to hold off on that now until I’ve written at least a few scenes. Development is a load of fun.

*Better writers than I don’t need necessarily to do this, but I’m still pretty green compared to them.

Blogging is also a lot of fun, when you’ve got a good topic to write on. And writing on social media can also be a productive use of your time. Editing, while less fun, can also be really enjoyable. Looking at a script and getting that flash of inspiration that will fix a scene, or a line, is a pretty big ego boost. Cleaning up dialogue so that it reads better can be tedious, but it also offers its own dividends, especially if you’re doing it to avoid a script that you’re blocked on. Or, say, all of the scripts you’re blocked on.

Which is, sometimes, exactly what these activities are doing. Allowing you to avoid pushing through on that script.

Now, you might say. I can’t write a script if I don’t have an outline. That’s perfectly fine. But do you have another one outlined? Why aren’t you pushing that closer to a full draft? Because you desperately needed to blog about how you avoid writing by blogging?* No, because you’re afraid of the blank page. Of not having inspiration to sail on. At least, that’s what I do. Especially if I don’t have a pressing deadline. I can avoid a script for months, by developing six or seven new ideas, fleshing out five of them, outlining three of them, and never writing a page.

* Yes, I’m being meta. Sue me, I’m a Community fan.

So, in the name of helping you not land in my current sorry fate: write. Sure, keep development hopping. Keep your social networks active. Outline, outline, outline. But we’re not outliners. We’re writers.

So write.

2 responses to “WRITING: Writing vs. Development

  1. getgeekier February 5, 2012 at 10:28 am

    This is actually why I wanted to switch to trying my hand at TV writing. I used to write novels (or pretend I wrote novels anyway). My favorite part of writing these novels was the part before I started the story. I loved creating the characaters, imagining exactly how they’d react to every situation, developing the world they were going to live in . Then I’d start the novel and get about 20k words in before I realized the magic was gone. The novelty of the idea is what appeals to me most I guess. I figured that if I wrote TV, I’d get to do a new idea constantly and be the time I was bored with it, we’d be on to the next script and the next idea. Here’s to hoping that pans out for me!

    • R. Lackie February 5, 2012 at 5:51 pm

      I’d say, keep going for it! TV is a lot of fun, especially if you like dialogue. I’d also try short stories, because 20k is quite a bit for a short story and then you aren’t saddled with something you can’t do anything with.

      Something else that might help: pushing through after the magic’s gone. I’ve found, sometimes even with a script, if I keep pushing I’ll find something that sparks my excitement again. You might find you’ve lost momentum at 20k, for example, then find something at 30k that blows your mind and makes you want to keep going!

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