Well, I had a whole long blog post written. It was one of my regular Thursday/Friday essay-style blog posts about how one knows that they have finished writing when they don't have a hard deadline that forces them to be done.
And then, somehow, it got deleted. I don't know what kind of combination of buttons I accidentally pressed. I was going to add a tag, and then... nope. It vanished. It was rough, I'd admit. Even for these blog posts that are mostly about showing my personality to anyone who is looking at this website and trying to decide if they like me and my work. I was upset to see it go.
But I was inspired to write such a post because I'm working on a short screenplay now! And you guys, I'm not gonna lie, I like it. It's called "Just the Tip," and it's about millenials as we're beginning to come into adulthood, sexism in the workplace and dating, and what romance is evolving into in modern society. It's about what journalism is and should be, how people treat each other, and the life of a workaholic. And you know what else? It's good. It's not perfect - it still has a few drafts to go before I'm willing to give it to my director absolutely for shooting - but it is good.
The thing that's concerning me, though, is that right now I'm not only the screenwriter, but also the producer. Which means that any deadlines I may have are being set by me. I'm used to projects where someone else gives me a hard deadline for which a piece absolutely has to be finished, and I work on it as much as I can before it, but once that deadline comes it's out of my hands and that's how I know that it's done. But now, I could edit "Just the Tip" indefinitely, and there's really no one to stop me from pushing the deadline back again and again.
Ira Glass once said in an interview that young creatives have a problem where we start creating because we have excellent taste, but we are so inexperienced that our own work doesn't measure up to our excellent taste, and the trick is to keep working past that until we are capable of creating work that does measure up to our taste. (For the full quote, you can read it over here.) I certainly wouldn't disagree with anything he said there. I know that I'm not doing work on the level of writers I especially admire (in writing I'm talking Nora Ephron and Aaron Sorkin, in acting I'm thinking about Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, and Anne Hathaway, just to name a few) and it certainly irks at me when I'm trying!
But the thing is... I know that "Just the Tip" is good. Not great. Not revolutionary. But it's not bad, either.
That is a statement I'm 100% certain I'll be embarrassed of later on in my life and career, when I'm really doing good work and I look back at this time with nostalgia and condescension. But it is also what I'm thinking now, and it would be pointless to deny it.
So my question is... how do I stop when I don't have anyone to command me to do so? Having good taste as I like to believe I do, I know my screenplay isn't ready. And I do know a few specific things that have to be changed about it to make it better, and I'll do those. But at what point do I stop and say that it's done enough and ought to be produced? At what point do I decide for myself that it's done, even if I know it's not perfect, and allow myself to move on to the next project?
That's a question I'm genuinely asking, by the way. If you have any tips or ways of thinking about it, I'd love to discuss them with you!
In the meantime, I'm going to try to decide for myself what I think the... tipping point is.
Puns. You're welcome.
Funny Vine of the Week: I literally cried with laughter from this. Nbd.